By Beth Carson
The last birthday you celebrated may not have been all that it seemed. That’s because the biological age of your body can be quite different from your actual age! It’s called your RealAgeTM – and it’s a great way to learn more about the effects of healthy (and not so healthy!) habits on your body.
So why not jump in to find out your RealAge – then make that number even lower with these five tips from the doctors who helped create the test:
1. A little exercise goes a long way. It’s hard to find time for exercise after a long draining day – but lack of exercise, even skipping a daily walk, can age your body. Even just 30 minutes of exercise on most days can have genuine benefits. For starters, you’ll lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, decrease stress and inflammation, and improve your brain function.
2. Stub out the smoking habit. It’s not easy to stop smoking – but it is easy to start reaping the benefits when you do. Just 20 minutes after you stop smoking, your heart rate begins to drop. Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood begin to fall. Your lung function starts recovering in just two weeks, and at the one-year mark, your risk for heart attack is cut by half. You’re also reversing the effects of all the toxic chemicals in cigarettes – the ones that age skin, increase cancer risk and contribute to memory loss. And the best time to stop? It’s right now.
3. Pass on junk food. Next time your tummy has a tantrum and tells you to head for the crisps or fast food, don’t listen. Processed foods are full of refined sugars, unhealthy fats and preservatives – and can damage nearly every system in your body, leading to aging factors like increased belly fat and inflammation. Healthy snacks like nuts, fruits and veggies are the way to go.
4. Check in for a check-up. Check in a couple of times a year with your GP to get regular tests. They’ll keep you informed of what’s going on with your body, making it easier to prevent and treat age-related conditions. Make sure to ask about your important health numbers– including cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar. Unsafe numbers on these tests can be good indicators for potentially serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease, that can make your RealAge much older.
5. Chill out. Between kids and work and crazy schedules, it’s no surprise that we all get a little stressed now and again. But stressors small and large can impact your RealAge – sometimes significantly. So next time you’re feeling a little too tense, try simple things like going for a walk, sipping a cup of tea or even just a little 5 minute meditation. It could send your RealAge back a whole year if you’re a woman, and nearly two and a half years if you’re a man.
Sources: Sharecare Editorial Team
Medically reviewed in March 2020.