Fountain of Youth

Adopting these habits can make you look younger

By Barbara Pierce

Aging is a fact of life.

This is the message from Joe Martin, doctor of physical therapy and founder and CEO of Function Better Physical Therapy in the Mohawk Valley.

“As you age, your spine and joints become less mobile,” he said. “Your muscles shorten, your strength fades, and your balance declines. Your bones can weaken and arthritis can set in, making getting out of bed in the morning a stiff and arduous task. Body fat increases and lean youthful muscles can shrink. Getting in and out of the car and up and down from your soft cushy couch can become difficult.”

Pretty dismal picture — a picture none of us would choose for ourselves.

All of this can change. All of this can be improved, Martin said.

Forget aging gracefully. Here’s how to age youthfully, how to avoid being that decrepit, pitiful old man or woman stuck in a low chair or car.

— Exercise four or more times per week. “Exercise is the miracle drug that people need to open their eyes to,” said Martin. “The reason people look old and decrepit is because they sit more. Our body is designed to move.”

“You don’t age if you exercise. Exercise is the fountain of youth,” Martin said.

— Get strong with protein is a recommendation from an article on RD.com, “Adopting these 50 everyday habits can make you look way younger.”

Getting enough protein can help to build and maintain your muscles to keep fit. Loss of muscle can lead to loss of strength and balance, accelerating the aging process.

Other suggestions from RD.com to maintain a more youthful appearance:

— Eat more greens and reds. Vitamin K helps your blood coagulate, reducing the possibility of bruising. Fruit and vegetable consumption result in a better complexion.

— Drink more water. Water keeps your skin hydrated to avoid it looking dull and dry and creating wrinkles. The more hydrated you are, the more plump and youthful your skin will appear. In addition, staying hydrated can improve energy levels and fight against cravings.

Shelve the booze

— Drink less alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates the skin and increases inflammation, both of which give the skin a dry, wrinkled appearance. It’s best to drink in moderation, along with a lot of water.

— Smile wide. In a study, people were asked to guess the age of people in photographs, with various facial expressions. Happy faces were rated as younger than they really were.

— Get your beauty rest. Your body needs seven to nine hours sleep to rest and repair your body’s cells. You know lack of sleep causes puffy eyes and dark circles, but it also dries out your skin, making wrinkles deeper and more visible.

— Wear the right bra. Gravity affects us all, but wearing the right bra can shape your figure into a more youthful silhouette. Over 50 percent of women wear the wrong size. Get fitted at a lingerie store.

— Avoid ugly shoes. Try on different brands to find shoes that are the most stylish and comfortable for your feet. Yes, you can wear high heels and still feel comfortable.

— Wear less make up. Heavy makeup ages your face.

— Give yourself a hand. A study showed people could accurately guess the age of women by looking at their hands. Use a good hand cream frequently.

— Cleanse and moisturize regularly. This helps protect skin and keeps it healthy. Banish regular soap that can be drying for older skin. Avoid skin toners, especially those with an alcohol or astringent base. Follow with a good moisturizer, morning and night. For the visible signs of skin aging, you may want to consider botox and other cosmetic procedures.

— Have fun with nails. Nail polish makes hands appear younger. Nails are the new accessory, so try a fun color like blue or purple.

— You need the right haircut. Long, heavy hair pulls down the face. Lifting layers and adding texture to frame the face will take years off.

If you opt for shorter hair, don’t cut it too short on top. Leaving more length at the crown gives a more feminine, youthful profile that can be more forgiving.

— Dress smart, not shapeless. Dress for the size you are, not the size you were. Hiding in big, baggy clothes isn’t flattering.

— Lighten up your liner. Avoid the black color you may have been using for years. Try chocolate brown or blue.

Function Better operates in Clinton, Herkimer, New Hartford, Oneida, Rome, Utica and Yorkville.

For more information, visit www.functionbetter.com.