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3 Things You Didn’t Know Are Aging You

Written by S.O.

Posted on March 2, 2015 at 5:50 pm

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When you’re young, growing old looks like a straight line – First, you’re a little kid, then a student, and before you know it, you’ve become an adult. Eventually you might get married, pursue a career, and/or follow your passions well into middle age.

And then you get too old to have any fun.

Photo by Paul Townsend

Of course as the baby boomers age, and more time and effort is put into studying what actually is happening as we get older, many of our preconceived notions regarding aging must be reconsidered or jettisoned altogether.

Unfortunately, lots of activities that we once thought did not affect aging actually do. Likewise, those of us whom harbor those incorrect notions rarely challenge them. And even when we do, often it is too late to do anything about it.

The good news (or the bad news, depending on how you choose to view it) is that you won’t have that excuse anymore, as we dive right into three things that age you, even if you do know it.

1. Exercising as a Means to an End, Not as a Lifestyle

You will find few people who don’t already know that exercise is very good for the human body. Even though we often failed to reach the age of 40 prior to the invention of modern medicine and sanitation, our ancestors were hearty, finessed folks in a very demanding world. We inhabit essentially the same bodies as our Cro Magnon forebearers, so it stands to reason that the activities that kept them svelte and on the go would have the same effect on us.

Let’s not forget that early modern humans lived in fairly inhospitable environs, hunting for and running away from a variety of big-game terrors, such as the short-faced bear (which measured about twice the size of today’s largest bears), saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, and the mammoth.

Needless to say, if Cro Magnons hadn’t achieve a certain level of fitness, it wouldn’t be too long before they ended up on some ghastly monster’s dinner plate.

The same is true for us. For most humans, fitness is one of the main keys to looking and feeling younger.

Sadly, in today’s value-rational world, exercise often is considered a means to reach some goal – i.e. weight loss, health benefits, looking younger and fitter. While there is nothing wrong with goal-setting when it comes to exercise, turning to exercise to solve a problem or two isn’t just putting the cart before the horse, it also tends to make getting back there a miserable experience.

What do I mean?

Firstly, it is a fact that those who exercise with some a single health goal in mind have trouble sticking with that level of activity once the goal is reached. We all know the feeling – Say you’ve trained hard for a marathon, and when the big day comes, you are ready to tackle the 26.2-mile trek. Yet, once a goal like that is achieved, many of us feel lost without a brand new challenge. We can feel adrift, and, having just put so much effort into marathon training, now that the goal is realized, a perfectly normal malaise can set in.

Of course, we aren’t all marathoners. But, the same is true for the gym member who has been instructed by a doctor to lose weight. Once we reach a goal, we tend to slack and eventually abandon the practice. And it’s a vicious cycle in that, when we are once again told to lose a few more pounds, we remember the kind of effort it took to lose that weight the first time. That is, you know how hard it will be to get back to where you once were.

So, save yourself the trouble. Make a lifelong commitment to health. Think about it: Once you’re in shape, you’ll never have to get in shape again.

2. Turning Up The Noise

Nothing says old like struggling to hear at a normal volume.

It might be an old canard, but age-related hearing loss is real.

The reason for this is that, as we age, the hair cells used for hearing inside our ears slowly degrade and die. These hearing hair cells aren’t like some skin or hair cells – Once we lose them, they won’t be coming back. Of course, heredity is a major cause of this age-related hearing loss (so is smoking, by the way).

Another cause, though, is life-long exposure to load noises, such as music and other loud blaring sounds. That doesn’t mean you have to expunge Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ or Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’ from your MP3 player just yet, but there are a few things you can do to cut down on the risk.

On thing you can do is limit your contact with loud noises. See a construction site ahead? Walk a block over to avoid it. Going to a big concert? Consider wearing earplugs. Wear ear buds to listen to music? Adjust the volume so that it never exceeds a comfortable volume.

Losing a portion of your hearing is as natural as going gray. But, with a little bit of intention, you don’t have to be the person yelling at the grandkids to “Speak up, sonny! I can’t hear you!”

3. Falling Out of Touch With Your Peers

It seemed so easy when you are younger. Strike up a conversation and suddenly you had a friend. Go to a gathering and meet dozens of like-minded folks who enjoyed many of the same things as you. Hit the usual social spots and you’d quickly find a soul mate or fellow traveler who could relate to your story.

Often, when you are in your teens and twenties, the problem is that you have too many friends to manage. But, as we grow older, the opportunities to meet and gather with people severely decrease. In turn, we become consumed with our jobs, our families, and the great life we are trying to build or maintain. Thus, one of the first things we neglect is maintaining the social links we thought we couldn’t live without just a few short years ago.

But the science is saying that cutting the cord completely from your peer group can have disastrous effects on your health.

Studies have shown that prolonged feelings of loneliness can damage your heart and immune system. A recent study by researchers at Brigham Young University found that long periods of isolation could be as bad as smoking! Further, studies have concluded that as aging progresses, the decline in health was most steep for those who feel lonely – Some research concludes that it can increase your risk of dying early by almost 50 percent.

If you’ve been feeling out of the loop lately, it is time to reengage and get back out there. Call up an old friend, organize a gathering of your college clique, or make it a point to join a social or service group that embraces your worldview.

Understandably, it is difficult to juggle all the things in our lives. Draw up a list of priorities, though, and make sure that reconnecting with friends, or making new ones, is high on that list.

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