If you’ve taken a look at yourself in the mirror lately and wondered “who is this aging person looking back at me”, you’re not alone. With aging come a number of different changes to your body that may make you feel and look older than you really are. Unfortunately, wrinkles are a common feature that make you look and feel older that you really are. Another culprit that may make you feel older may be your lack of stamina. If you feel that you have to take a nap after a short walk to the mail box, you may end up feeling a lot older than you really are. Addressing these issues may help you enjoy life and feel young while aging gracefully.
Aging and Changes to Your Skin, including Wrinkles
You may notice that your aging skin has wrinkles, dry spots and/or age spots. You may also notice that your aging skin is thinner making it appear less fleshy and smooth. These changes to your aging skin can make you feel older than you really are. You will probably notice that wrinkles are more prominent on skin that has been exposed to the sun over the years. Commonly affected areas include the scalp, face, neck, hands and forearms. Wrinkles can either be fine surface lines or deep furrows. There are a number of causes of wrinkles including: increased sun exposure, smoking, lighter skin pigmentation, and hereditary factors. While some of these factors are out of your control, some factors can be modified to minimize the number of wrinkles you see. Generally speaking, wrinkles that are associated with aging skin are the ones that tend to bother people.
Preventing Wrinkles in Your Aging Skin
Protecting yourself from sun damage to your skin is an important step to defend against the aging process. Because the sun is responsible for a lot of skin damage, protecting exposed skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays should be your first step. Avoiding tanning beds is another factor in protecting your skin from damaging UV rays. Additionally, smoking is another cause of wrinkles. The extent of wrinkles a person has increases with the number of cigarettes smoked and the number of years a person has smoked for. It’s never too late to quit; quitting will help to prevent future skin damage.
Treating Wrinkles that You Already Have
If the wrinkles that you have are causing you distress, there are a number of medical creams as well as procedures that can help to reduce the severity of your wrinkles. Creams that contain vitamin A acid (Retin A), alpha hydroxyl acids, and/or anti-oxidants may provide slight improvement in fine wrinkles that you see in your aging skin. Cosmetic procedures may provide a more noticeable decrease in the wrinkles that you see. Procedures include glycolic acid peels, microdermabrasion, laser re-surfacing, fractional re-surfacing, heat therapy, plastic surgery, botox, and fillers. Some of these cosmetic procedures will provide drastic results, but many are also invasive in nature. It’s important to do your research and find a qualified practitioner before deciding to undergo any of these cosmetic procedures.
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Decreased Stamina and Muscle Strength
Aging causes changes to your muscle tissue, making your muscles less toned and flexible. Another issue that comes with aging is decreased stamina. This occurs because the walls of your heart become thicker, your arteries stiffen and your heart rate slows down. The aging process of the heart is the primary reason that you aren’t able to exercise as intensely as you age and notice a decrease in your stamina.
Improving Your Muscle Strength and Stamina as You Age
Participating in physical activity that increases your heart rate (cardiovascular exercise) every other day is the first step to improving your stamina. While you may feel tired after exercising in the beginning, it will be beneficial for your energy levels in the long run, so don’t give up! You can take part in activities such as walking, biking or swimming that are low impact in an effort to protect your joints from damage. Be sure to start slow to allow your body time to adapt to the changes. The next step is to add in some resistance training such as light weight lifting, pilates or resistance band exercises. Performing strengthening and stretching exercises as you age will help to maintain your muscle strength and flexibility. You should also focus on diet changes to improve stamina. Skip starchy foods that are high in sugar. Diets that include fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats and whole grains, in combination with exercise, will help to improve your stamina as you age.
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