'20 Years Younger': Bob Greene's Advice for Living Well, Eating Healthy and Looking Great As You Age

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It's not practical for most people to get on a bike and ride for a month (it's not something I could easily fit into my life anymore either), but I wondered if there were adjustments you could make to your everyday life that would have a similar de-aging, life-enhancing effect. I knew that a good fitness plan could go a long way toward turning back the clock, but what else was possible? To find out, I spent the next few years talking to experts in other fields, learning about the latest advances in anti-aging science and determining what aspects of that research could be translated into a workable plan for daily life.

After a time, it became evident that there are four main fronts on which you can vigorously fight back against the effects of aging: exercise, nutrition, skin care, and restorative sleep. Addressing any one of these areas with an eye toward shaving off the years can have a tremendous payoff, but it pales in comparison to the combined impact of all four -- especially when you also control the stress in your life and practice positive thinking, two other aspects that can significantly slow the aging process. A well-rounded comprehensive approach can not only help you look and feel younger, but can actually make your body reverse course, even at the cellular level. At this point there's little doubt: Good anti-aging strategies can both extend your life and substantially raise the quality of it.

By calling this book "20 Years Younger" I'm making what some might think is an exaggerated claim. But most people these days are living lives that predispose them to early aging. If you grab ahold of your health and actively pursue greater well-being, I don't think it's extravagant to say that you can dramatically turn things around. It's commonly accepted that the body undergoes certain changes with age, and to some extent those changes are inevitable. Even works of art maintained under pristine light and temperature conditions eventually begin to wither. What is less known, though, is that the life you lead and the decisions you make every day are largely responsible for how quickly, profoundly, and noticeably you age. In fact, much of what we think of as aging -- wrinkles, weight gain, memory loss, lack of energy, certain types of illnesses -- is not primarily attributable to the passage of time. Rather, it's a direct result of sedentary living, poor diet, lack of sleep, insufficient (or nonexistent) skin care, too much stress, and even a defeatist attitude. It stands to reason, then, that if you reverse those habits -- if you get moving, eat longevity-promoting foods, sleep soundly and adequately, protect and nourish your skin, and improve your outlook on the world -- the signs of aging will reverse themselves, too.

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