How Old Is Your Body, Really?
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Chronic Dieting2 of 8
By Emili Vesilind
“Women who’ve been chronic dieters most of their lives look older,” says San Francisco-based nutritionist Rania Batayneh. “The skin by the jowl area and the general skin tone are affected.” She estimates that yo-yo dieting can set a body back 4 to 6 years, “because most people have tried to lose weight by depriving their bodies for long periods of time.”
Being Underweight3 of 8
It’s easy to equate fleshiness with obesity, but “fullness is a sign of youth,” says Batayneh. “People are afraid of gaining weight to look better, but that’s what cosmetic fillers do — restore the plumpness to the face.” Being chronically underweight can also affect your insides, contributing to infertility, anemia and osteoporosis — potentially shaving six to seven years off of a life.
ON ELLE: Exercise Makes You Smarter
Inactivity4 of 8
Living a life where your primary exercise is picking up the mail can take up to 20 years off your lifespan, estimates Jennifer Burke, personal training manager for Crunch gyms in New York. “Not keeping up with your cardio training is going to make your heart work that much harder, and eventually work less efficiently,” she explains.
Ignoring Your Muscles5 of 8
Nothing says “old” like a crooked, stooped spine — which is where resistance training (anything that builds strength) comes in. “It will make sure your alignment remains good and counteract hunching,” says Burke, who guesstimates that letting your muscles stay forever flaccid can knock five to 10 years off your life span.
Overdoing It6 of 8
On the opposite end of the fitness spectrum is compulsively working out — which can ultimately take five to 10 years off a life. When your body is in overdrive, “you’re not giving your muscles the opportunity to build back up,” says Burke, “so you’re less likely to fight off bugs and germs, and your immune system is going to be lower.”
Sun Damage7 of 8
Did you know that the sun’s UVA rays go straight through window panes and penetrate the skin on a deeper level than the “burning” UVB rays? Using “a full-spectrum sunscreen with zinc oxide that protects against both UVA and UVB rays every day,” is a must, says Los Angeles dermatologist Rebecca Fitzgerald, MD, estimating that sun exposure can age your face up to 10 years.
Ignoring Dental Health8 of 8
As you get older, tiny surface cracks appear in your teeth, picking up stains that add “decades” to your look, says Beverly Hills dentist Alan Zweig, DMD, FAGD, who added that another clear sign of an aging smile is the wearing down of the ridges of teeth. Whitening, veneers and cosmetic re-contouring can combat both issues.