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At 66, I consider myself in pretty good shape. Most people who meet me think I’m younger than my age. I live alone and enjoy it. I work for myself and live an independent lifestyle.
On the other side of the coin, though, my waistline has expanded two sizes in two years, my balance isn’t as good, and I’m way more nearsighted than I used to be.
I’m learning now that these issues probably started when I wasn’t paying attention, back in my 50s or even my 40s, and that I might have been able to address them then.
So, for those of you in your 40s, 50s, and even your early 60s, here are some signs to watch out for. They’re telling you that your body may be aging faster than it should.
4 signs of premature aging and how to fight back
1. Slow walking. There are fast walkers and there are s-l-o-w walkers. But it turns out that this isn’t just a matter of preference.
An astounding study showed that slow walkers at age 45 are more likely to show accelerated signs of aging, especially in the lungs, teeth, and immune system. They’re also more likely to show decreased cognitive function sooner than fast walkers. But new research has found brisk walking is key to slower aging because of the effects on our telomeres.
The answer: Start a walking program. Begin with just five minutes a day and build up to thirty minutes. Try to work up to a pace of 100 steps a minute. How many steps are optimal? That depends on which side of 60 you’re on.
2. Dark spots. Dark spots, age spots, liver spots, no matter which name they are called, are most common once you’ve reached 50 years old. They’re brown spots of discoloration, also known as hyperpigmentation, that appear most often on the face, hands, and arms. They are mostly harmless, except to our ego, but you should see your doctor if they are black instead of brown, or if they change shape or bleed.
The answer: Avoid being in the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun is strongest. And always wear sunscreen. But be aware that some sunscreens pose a danger. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s list for safer sunscreens.
Eating an abundance of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, significantly those high in polyphenols, like grapes, can help boost your skin’s protection.
3. Easy bruising. As you age, your skin gets thinner and loses fat. This is especially true after 60, and especially if you’re a woman. Your blood vessels are also more fragile. And certain medications make it worse.
The answer: Vitamin C and two other natural supplements can strengthen your blood vessels, stop the bruising and help skin look younger and healthier.
4. Decreasing hand strength. Your grip strength may start to drop when you reach your 50s. You might find it harder to open a jar or keep your grip on the steering wheel.
So much of what we do these days is automated. The push of a key on the keyboard or the tap of a Smartphone can accomplish a task that used to take effort. One study found that hand strength among millennials is nearly twenty percent weaker than it is in people thirty years their senior.
This may not seem like a big concern. But studies have shown that grip strength is statistically connected to your lifespan, as well as to your risk of dementia, heart attack and stroke.
The answer: You need to exercise your hands, just like you exercise the rest of your body. Here are eight simple things you can do to keep your hands strong, whatever your age.
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