13 Things You Can Do To Slow Down Aging

Not to start this out negatively, but life is hard. And over time, the natural aging process and challenges we face start to take their toll on our bodies, both internally and externally. On a visible level, our skin begins to lose some of its natural elastin and collagen as the years start coming (and they don't stop coming, as you know). While there isn't a ton we can do to inhibit this process, we can provide our skin with the necessary care it needs to thrive despite the stressors and chaos of life. The spectrum of things to do to help our skin appear youthful spans a spectrum from topical serums to having a keen eye for what we put into our bodies.

But slowing down aging is more nuanced than just being skin deep. By striking the right balance of specific foods and taking care of our brains in the best way we know how, we can slow down our aging process on a more physiologically global scale (via Vanguard Dermatology).

Wear sunscreen

If you are a product of the generation that slathered baby oil on their bodies before lounging beneath the sun at its highest, you've probably been warned about the perils of opting out of wearing sunscreen. As it turns out, wearing sunscreen is one of the best ways to prevent our age from showing through on our skin. A 2013 study found that those who wore sunscreen every day for four and a half years showed no outward signs of their skin aging. But beyond that, when compared to people who wore sunscreen sporadically for four and a half years, the consistent sunscreen wearers showed a 24% less increase in skin damage beneath what the eye can see (via Stylecaster).

So, what does this mean for you? It means that you should be wearing sunscreen, of course! And not just on your face. Dermatologists advise us to remember to slather the sunscreen onto any parts of our bodies that will see the sun, including easy-to-forget places like the backs of our hands and the tips of our ears. They also say that we should be applying sunscreen every day, even if we plan to spend most of the day inside. Experts recommend lathering up every two hours or immediately after sweating or swimming (via Vanguard Dermatology). It sounds like a lot of work, but it seems worth it for a more youthful countenance (and a decreased risk of cancer).

Don't smoke or use tobacco products

Avoiding smoking and using tobacco products is another way to slow down aging. Staying away from nicotine and tobacco can slow the outward signs of aging. Still, it can also help prevent many illnesses caused by using these products year after year. Tobacco, and the nicotine it contains, are highly addictive and are actually responsible for around 6 million preventable deaths annually. Tobacco use can lead to many different types of cancers, heart disease, strokes, and multiple types of lung problems — all of which can lead to premature death, the true anti-venom when it comes to slowing down the aging process (via Healthline).

Using tobacco products doesn't just affect your internal organs, though. It can also play a role in the age you look on the outside. Nicotine use can narrow the blood vessels, which inhibits the movement of blood and necessary nutrients to your skin. It can damage your skin's elasticity from the inside, but the heat and smoke can dry and damage your skin from the outside. And as if that isn't enough, the consistent squinting and pursing of the lips can aid in the formation of lines around the lips and eyes. Over time, those lines can turn into furrowed wrinkles (via Mayo Clinic).

Eat healthfully

Eating well is something that we often hear about as a way to slow the aging process. Still, this blanket statement is not always followed up by specifics. It turns out that there are quite a few specific dietary items to include if your goal is to look and feel younger. Typically, the foods that offer the most bang for your buck when it comes to helping you feel youthful are the ones that are stuffed full of nutrients. Healthy sources of protein, fat, and loads of antioxidants are a good place to start if you are curious about revamping your diet.

Specifically, some of the best age-defying foods you can choose can aid in keeping your skin looking young and your body feeling fresh. Olive oil often tops the lists of anti-aging foods because it can actually help lower your risk of developing many chronic illnesses. Extra virgin olive oil can help reduce inflammation, which is at the root of many chronic diseases. Green tea, dark chocolate, flax seeds, and pomegranates all have hefty doses of antioxidants per serving, which can help counterbalance the harmful effects that free radicals have inside the body. Tomatoes, avocados, and most other vegetables are nutrient-dense in their own ways and provide the youth-promoting vitamins, minerals, and other substances that our bodies crave. Collagen peptides have been having their moment in the spotlight, but their popularity is warranted. Consuming this type of protein can help keep your skin looking plump, less wrinkled, and more hydrated as you age (via Healthline).

Balance your fat intake

Not all dietary fats are created equal, especially when it comes to their ability to expedite or quell the aging process of our bodies. Omega-3 fatty acids are an excellent place to start when it comes to upping your healthy fat intake. Omega-3s are plentiful in many types of seafood, including fish, oysters, caviar, and even cod liver oil. If the idea of downing cod liver oil just ignited your gag reflex, fear not! Healthy omega-3s can also be found in flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans (via Healthline). Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to increase your "good" cholesterol levels while simultaneously keeping your "bad" cholesterol in check. People who consume diets high in this specific type of fat have been shown to have less oxidative stress than those who don't consume it.

Oxidative stress has been known to cause inflammation in the body, which is a factor that contributes to many long-term health problems. The more omega-3s you consume, the lower your oxidative stress is, typically. But eating salmon at every meal is not quite enough to enjoy the youth-promoting benefits of omega-3s. You'll also need to avoid the more harmful omega-6 fatty acids, which can be found in grapeseed, corn, and sesame oils. Omega-6s can increase cellular inflammation, unlike their healthier counterpart (via Shape).

Regulate alcohol intake

Keeping tabs on our alcohol intake is something that we often hear is good for us. Still, many of us don't find that particularly enjoyable while we're out socializing with our friends. As Ria Health puts it, "There is a strong relationship between alcohol and aging." Consuming alcohol can greatly impact your complexion, making it look redder, wrinklier, and drier. Regularly consuming alcohol can lead to vitamin deficiencies, zapping the collagen and elasticity from your skin, especially your facial skin. Dehydration is also super common and can begin to visibly make itself known if you imbibe too often.

Moving beyond just the complications that your favorite cocktails can have on your skin, alcohol can also make you feel older than you are. Alcohol can affect your body's ability to absorb the nutrients from the food you eat, which can ultimately lead to faster aging internally. It can cause your body to release more stress hormones and make you feel more anxious, leading to a cycle that can potentially culminate in depression. Drinking less will help you look and feel younger.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).


From your brain to your appearance to your health, exercise is one of the greatest things you can do to slow down the aging process that is already taking place in your body. Exercising will help you appear younger, no doubt, but it can also boost your energy and help you feel younger on the inside too! Obviously, regular exercise can tone your muscles, which can aid in a feeling of health and well-being. But beyond that, exercise helps jumpstart your brain, which can lead to higher energy levels and more vitality throughout your day. Exercising also helps increase the blood flow throughout your body, which can lead to higher arousal levels and, you guessed it, potentially better sex (via Health)!

Exercise helps tone and strengthen your muscles, even the smaller, more supportive muscles surrounding the spine. By engaging in regular strength-building exercises, you'll maintain the strength to have good posture, making you appear taller, healthier, and younger. This can also help relieve some of the risks of developing chronic back problems. However, many other factors influence this as well. Engaging in strength-building moves will have you bending this way and that — a great way to keep yourself flexible as you age. Flexibility is a bonus in that it reduces the rigidity of your muscles. It can result in fewer aches and pains.

Exercise helps improve your cellular function, the rate at which cells age, and the quality of sleep you get. It can help relieve stress, build confidence, and enhance your memory (via Health).

Exfoliate your skin

If you aren't in the skincare game, consider this your initiation. Of course, youth and beauty are much deeper than outward appearance. Still, a bit of skincare and exfoliation, specifically, can leave you with more supple and younger-looking skin than you may have imagined possible. However, it is all too easy to overdo the exfoliant, making you look older.

Exfoliating is the process in which you remove dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. When exfoliation is executed properly, it can lead to more radiant, younger-looking skin. If it is overdone, though, you can degrade the skin's natural barrier and leave it more susceptible to acne, redness, and other blemishing. Dermatologists lean towards recommending gentle chemical exfoliants and peels instead of harsher options like scrubs and exfoliating washcloths. The main reason behind this explanation is that it is easier to overdo mechanical exfoliants, as they call them, even when used infrequently. Stylecaster also recommends avoiding scrubs made of seeds or crushed shells because the jagged edges on the little bits can lead to tiny abrasions on the skin's surface.

And finally, when it comes to skin exfoliation, always moisturize and use sunscreen after. This trifecta of skincare practices can help erase years off of your face.

Get adequate rest

Throughout your life, you have probably noticed that skimping on sleep can lead to dark circles, less vitality, and an overall exhausted appearance. But did you know that getting adequate rest is a huge trick when it comes to anti-aging? Studies have shown that even one sleepless night can lead to physical signs such as drooping eyelids, a paler skin color, drooping around the corners of the mouth, and more fine lines and wrinkles. One study even found that sleepless nights can affect our thoughts about ourselves. Insufficient sleep can skew our perspectives of our own self-worth, attractiveness, and more.

Your body uses the time while you are sleeping to repair vital parts of itself, and many of these repairs are directly related to the youthfulness of your outward appearance. As we sleep, our blood flow increases, and the increase in blood flow means that more nutrients are circulated throughout our bodies. These nutrients help rebuild collagen and repair sun-exposure damage that can lead to fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.

How you sleep can also play a role in how youthful your skin appears. From sleeping on your back to investing in silk pillowcases, the tips and tricks out there are seemingly endless. Sleeping with your head slightly elevated, drinking plenty of water, and moisturizing your skin before bed can all also aid in your body's ability to repair the skin as you sleep (via Healthline).


Depending on where you live, you might feel like your face loses every minuscule drop of moisture after a light mist touches it. Conversely, if you live in a humid environment, your face might feel heavy with sweat and oil immediately after you wash it. No matter your geographical predicament and skin type, finding a moisturizer that works for your skin type and using it consistently can make a huge impact on your skin's youthful appearance.

Moisturizers can help prevent skin from becoming too dry and flaky. They work by trapping a layer of moisture beneath the top layer of the skin, making it appear fuller and plumper than if that moisture wasn't there. But moisturizers are important for parts of your body beyond just your face. Your hands, in particular, take a beating every day and often do not receive the moisture they need. One of the best ways to keep your hand skin looking young is cloaking your hands in rubber gloves before you do the dishes. Hot water can strip your hands of the moisture they need to stay supple and young-looking, so glove up or convince someone else to do your dishes (via Everyday Health).

Confront your stressors

Not that anything that can help slow down aging is easy, but confronting the things that bring you stress in life seems daunting. Unfortunately, existing in a state of perpetual, undefined stress can accumulate and accelerate aging. In an interview with Shape, professor Perla Kaliman, Ph.D., states that chronic stress can speed up epigenetic aging and that meditation is one of the most useful tools to combat it.

Simply put, meditation is an ancient practice used to calm the mind and achieve a more focused state. Meditation can help lower your heart and respiration rates and literally decrease stress, among many other healthful benefits (via Verywell Mind). While research is ongoing, all of the current research suggests that meditators have slower epigenetic aging rates than non-meditators. One study even found that the people who meditated every day for three years had the biggest benefit. Though confronting the life things that stress you out might sound like a scary task, taking a few moments every day to calm and clear your mind could lead to slower physiological aging (via Shape).

Engage your brain

It seems like so many mature adults are into doing crossword puzzles, but why? It turns out that they might be onto something — engaging your brain is incredibly important when it comes to keeping it healthy, young, and fresh. As the old adage does, "if you don't use it, you lose it!"

According to Harvard Health Publishing, memory loss is not a result of aging exactly but more likely a product of a neurological condition or brain injury. To reduce your chances of cognitive decline, though, it is important to activate a few healthy habits for your brain. In addition to providing your noggin with all the nutrition and rest it needs, it is important to flex your brain's "muscles." For one, keep learning things. Trying out new hobbies is a great way to keep expanding your mind to keep your brain cells functioning optimally. Experts recommend using all of your senses because the more senses used, the more complete the memories you will retain about those moments. They recommend prioritizing your mental capacity by remembering the important things but utilizing the technology and resources available to remember other things for you. And finally, leading experts recommend repeating things you want to remember. After all, we learn through repetition, so it behooves you to repeat a name or date you want to remember aloud a few times.

Know your family history

Knowing your family's medical history is not so much about slowing down the aging process but more about learning what health conditions could spell an early demise for you based on your genetics. The more you know about your family's history, the better equipped you'll be if you happen to develop a medical complication. MedlinePlus states that "A complete record includes information from three generations of relatives, including children, brothers and sisters, parents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents, and cousins."

If your relatives all suffer from one disease, there is no confirmation that you will end up suffering from the same thing. On the flip side of the coin, just because your family doesn't have any health concerns doesn't mean that you aren't at risk for developing something that you may have never anticipated. But knowing your family history and sharing that information with your doctor can help mitigate some of the life-threatening mysteries. For example, if your mother, aunts, and grandmother all had breast cancer, chances are your doctor will start you on yearly mammograms before the standard-of-care age. Asking your family important questions about their health history, if possible, and then sharing that information with your doctor could help increase your chances of graceful, healthful aging.

Visit your doctor regularly

Visiting your doctor consistently for checkups is another great way to keep yourself young. And by young, we mean healthy — which is a great start when it comes to slowing the natural process of aging. Early detection and intervention when it comes to life-altering diseases are crucial for maintaining your health and quality of life as you age. Doctors like to take samples of different bodily fluids to help determine some of your more prevalent risk factors. They will do their best to assess your mental health and identify any lifestyle factors leading to disease and illness down the line.

Your doctor will perform different tests based on your gender and family history as you age. By ensuring that you attend regular checkups, your doctor will be more likely to notice any changes in your body. Your primary care physician can also refer you to specialists based on your family history (via Everyday Health). By ensuring that you are receiving adequate medical care, you are increasing your chances of living your life in tip-top shape.