Six keys to elevating the quality of your life as you age

Genetics may play a key role in the way you age, but that doesn’t mean it will determine your fate. In fact, just 30 percent of physical aging is genetically predetermined, according to an eight-year study. Yes, lifestyle trumps genes, so if you’re keen on keeping your body functioning optimally as you get older, try remembering these 6 keys to healthy aging. The first key is exercising. The brain and body are connected, meaning what is healthy for one promotes fitness in the other. Secondly, nurture friendships. Evidence suggests that what enhances well-being is getting together with people, no matter what the activity is. A more recent study also found that folks with close friends and confidants lived longer than those without, while tight family relationships made no difference in mortality. In fact, avoiding negative family members may enhance health and longevity. Third, be cognitively stimulated early. The sooner you delve into complex activities that get your brain working, the less of a chance you have in developing Alzheimer’s. The fourth key is to stay cognitively engaged. Whether the activity is playing bridge or crossword puzzles, mental exercise may be as key to keeping the mind supple as physical activity is to the body’s functioning. Fifth, eat a healthy diet. You most likely have heard that fruits and veggies benefit the brain, but are you aware to what extent they benefit the brain? According to one study, the capacity of fruits and vegetables to absorb damaging free radicals cuts the risk of dementia, while the same antioxidant-rich foods also prevent some loss of learning and memory function. Lastly, kick nasty habits like smoking or excessive drinking. These only degenerate your body, rather than nurture it.

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