If you feel like the last year has aged you before your time, you’re not alone. The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic has been wearing on us all. These kinds of life events are beyond our control. But they don’t have to show up on your face. The good news is that there are science-backed strategies to improve your overall health that will also keep you looking and feeling young. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
Getting too much sun can damage the skin, causing long-term changes like photoaging, a premature aging of the skin because of sun exposure. “In photoaging, the skin develops wrinkles and fine lines because of changes in the collagen of a deep layer of the skin called the dermis,” says Harvard Medical School. To protect your youthful visage, wear a facial moisturizer daily that has at least 30 SPF and protects against both UV-A and UV-B light.
To prevent premature skin aging, get moving. “Moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system,” says the American Academy of Dermatology. “This, in turn, may give the skin a more youthful appearance.” Experts including the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to prevent chronic disease—and more is even better.
The fountain of youth contains as little added sugar as possible. “Findings from research studies suggest that a diet containing lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates can accelerate aging,” says the American Academy of Dermatology. When we consume excessive amounts of sugar, it reacts with protein in the body, a process called glycation. The excess sugar binds to collagen and elastin, the two compounds in skin that keeps it looking plump and youthful. This produces “advanced glycation endproducts,” or AGEs, which damage collagen and elastin and actually prevent the body from repairing them. The result: Dull, sagging skin and wrinkles.
Over time, being chronically stressed can age us on the cellular level. That’s according to Harvard Medical School, which reports that chronic stress can shorten our telomeres, the structures inside each cell that contain genetic information. As telomeres get shorter, cells age and eventually die. Not only is this the literal process of aging, people with shorter telomeres are at risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer.
During sleep, the body reboots and repairs everything from your brain to your skin. If you’re not getting enough, it can show up on your face. According to a study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, women who reported getting good quality sleep experienced 30% better “skin-barrier recovery” than those who got poor sleep, and they had “significantly lower intrinsic skin aging.” What’s more: Research suggests that quality sleep lowers the risk of chronic diseases associated with age, including heart disease, cancer, and dementia. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.