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2/1/2011
Ninety Starts Here
Ninety Starts Here

Nurture yourself & others until 90 and beyond

Like a fine wine or a comfortable pair of jeans, some things really do get better with age. As Weleda celebrates its 90th birthday, we explore the best ways you can age gracefully until 90 and beyond, while nourishing your body, soul and spirit—as well as the world around you.

Recent research suggests that the secret to youth and wellness is really no secret at all: living healthily and happily will add years to your life and life to your years. Genetics certainly play a part, but positive lifestyle choices are just as powerful. As the world grows smaller and we realize how connected we are to all living things, aging gracefully has become less about outer beauty and more about developing wisdom in the way we relate to our inner selves, the people around us and the natural world.

Exercise for a balanced body

When it comes to aging well, the body’s health is crucial. The USDA recommends 30 minutes of daily activity as part of a healthy lifestyle, but many people don’t realize that regular movement can also improve our minds. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, that same half hour of activity will also reduce the risk of memory loss later in life.

Getting outside can be an inexpensive way to get needed exercise. “There are benefits to simple things like daily walks, yard work and playing tennis or golf,” says fitness and nutrition expert Aileene Palm. “These help to keep the body limber and to keep the blood flowing.”

Regular exercise also improves balance. A study by the Oregon Research Institute and Willamette University found that senior citizens who walked on a cobblestone mat lowered their blood pressure and improved their balance more than those who walked only on flat surfaces.

Seattle-based personal trainer John Verd keeps this research in mind, especially when working with mature clients. “Balance training improves core strength and confidence,” he says, “but it also can greatly reduce the risk of injury in the event of a fall.”

Verd recommends simple and cost-effective exercises for staying balanced. Start with trying to stand on one foot for 20 seconds, and then stand or kneel on an unstable surface such as a Bosu ball.

Eat plants, preferably organic

Most sources agree that a plant-based diet is best for longevity. According to a recent study in the journal Diabetes Care, older adults who stick with a diet rich in plant-based fats are less likely to develop diabetes than seniors who follow a low-fat diet.

The good news is that eating mostly plants is a win-win situation for both your health and Mother Nature’s. According to a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report, livestock production is a primary contributor to global warming, accounting for almost one-fifth of the country’s total carbon-dioxide emissions.

For fruits and vegetables without thick protective skins, research suggests we should buy organic. Naturopathic physician Wendy Wells advocates eating organic, antioxidant-rich foods like berries, broccoli, tomatoes and whole grains. “For longevity, a low-calorie, nutrient-dense diet is best,” she says. “This gives you better sugar control, lower cholesterol, and balances hormone levels.”

Put your best face forward

Labels on many beauty products these days read like a high-school chemistry final. If ingredients on products sound overly complicated, they probably are. A regimen that embraces the bounty of nature is the safest and most effective path to maintaining beautiful, healthy skin.

“We have everything we need in natural skin care,” says Weleda esthetician and natural skin-care expert Patricia Pol. “Our skin absorbs much of what we put on it. It’s like eating organic. You make the choice not to introduce pesticides and chemicals into your body, and now you are choosing not to introduce them through your skin.”

According to Pol, if we nourish our skin with pure plant, seed and nut oils, like those found in Weleda skin care products, we will be helping our bodies look, feel and stay healthier. Pol suggests a three-part routine: wash your face with Weleda’s Gentle Cleansing Milk, refine pores with the Refining Toner, and moisturize with a day or night cream best suited for your skin (click here for Weleda's skin care usage chart). Use a gentle approach to skin care. Avoid scrubbing and extreme exfoliation, which will only break down the skin and strip it of its natural, protective oils. If you’re going to be out in the sun, apply a natural sunscreen.

While we can mitigate the signs of aging, we must accept that it is nevertheless a part of life. There is a beauty that comes from having lived through our experiences, and our skin care choices should complement this wisdom. Skin has different needs as we mature, and skin care regimens should be adjusted based on these needs. For example, Weleda’s antioxidant-rich Pomegranate Regenerating Body Care products are ideal for mature skin. According to Pol, the products boost the production of collagen, nourish dry skin and increase elasticity.

Learn to stress less

In today’s world, everything from financial turmoil to a hectic workday can add stress to our lives—and in the process often shorten them, experts say.

“Stress triggers an inflammatory process in both the body and the mind, which is responsible for disease, poor digestion and sadness,” says Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life.

One way to instantly de-stress is by communing with nature. “Tuning into the rhythms of nature decreases stress and boosts longevity,” says Sarah Kinbar, former editor-in-chief of Garden Design and the founder of GoodGardenIdeas.com. “Sustainable gardening is an activity that connects us to the earth and slows us down to nature’s time. Digging in the soil, nurturing plants: these ways of engaging the natural world have been shown in studies to benefit us psychologically and strengthen us physically.”

Traditional stress relievers, like massage and meditation, can also contribute to a longer, more peaceful life. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that a single 45-minute Swedish massage decreases the stress hormone cortisol and increases immune-boosting white blood cells.

Give to others and yourself

New research shows that one of the best ways to help yourself is by helping others. According to a report by the Corporation for National and Community Service, people who volunteer for a cause they believe in enjoy greater longevity, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease. “Just two hours of volunteering a week can bring meaningful benefits to a person’s body and mind,” says Robert Grimm, director of the corporation’s office of research and policy development.

A new trend among travel-loving do-gooders is using vacation time to give back. In her book The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life, Pam Grout details many such opportunities to help others, from volunteering on an organic farm in Hawaii to helping build eco-friendly homes with Habitat for Humanity. After such a vacation, “you probably won’t look different to the naked eye, but you’ll be different—guaranteed,” says Grout. “Your heart will be bigger, your purpose will be clearer, the petty things that used to seem so overwhelming will eventually disappear.” Volunteer vacations provide an attitude-boost that leaves you happier than spending a week in a five-star hotel.

These vacations, like the aging process itself, are all about making the most of an exciting journey. As Weleda turns 90, we invite you to join us in embarking on a personal voyage of peace, health and sustainability by incorporating these simple suggestions into your life. Remembering that we are all connected, and that simple decisions can make a big difference, is the true secret to aging well on your own path to 90 years, and beyond. cdo

9 Tips For Living ‘Til 90

Healthy aging is not about one big decision, but rather a hundred small ones made every day. Practiced regularly, the simple ideas below take little time but will make a big difference in your long-term wellness.

  1. Bypass the center of the grocery store. Stick to the market’s periphery, where you’ll find the produce and refrigerated sections, which are chock-full of nutritious whole foods.
  2. Take the stairs. Skip elevators or park farther away at shopping centers. You will instantly build minutes of walking into your day.
  3. Spend time with a fluffy friend. Owning a pet has proven health benefits, which include reducing anxiety and increasing immunity.
  4. Bury the hatchet. Learning to forgive can be a great stress reliever.
  5. Treat every day like it’s a journey. Stash travel-sized products in your purse, such as Weleda’s Pomegranate Regenerating Body Care Kit, and always have beauty on hand.
  6. Sleep it off. During shuteye, your body goes to work repairing itself at the cellular level. Sufficient zzz’s will keep your memory sharp and even help control your appetite.
  7. Take a soothing bath. Adding a splash of essential oils to warm water will nourish the skin and relax the mind
  8. Stay hydrated. Coconut water, rich in electrolytes, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, is a stellar alternative to regular water and will tantalize the palate.
  9. Indulge in a daily dose of treats. A 5-ounce glass of red wine and a 2-ounce serving of dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure and prevent inflammation. Opt for organic.