photo of man sleeping
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You Don't Sleep Enough

If you don't get your ZZZs, your skin can start to wrinkle and sag early. That's in part because your body releases more cortisol, a "stress hormone" that breaks down the collagen that keeps your skin smooth and springy. Try to set up a quiet, soothing bedtime ritual with regular hours, and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and electronics before bed.

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photo of cigarettes
2 / 11

You're a Smoker

If you use tobacco, besides raising your chances of getting cancer, you could end up with wrinkled, sagging skin at a younger age. Smoking lessens blood flow that carries essential nutrients like oxygen to the surface of your skin and may slow your body's production of collagen. Talk to your doctor about ways to break the habit.

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photo of person gardening
3 / 11

You're in the Sun Too Much

Some sunlight is good for you, but soaking up too many UV rays damages collagen in your skin and may cause your body to make too much of a protein called elastin. You might notice your skin start to thicken and develop a rough feel with deep wrinkles and varied color (age spots). If you must be in direct sun, cover up with hats, long sleeves, and sunglasses. Use a "broad spectrum" sunscreen that's got a rating of SPF 30 or higher.

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photo of person applying moisturizer
4 / 11

You Don't Moisturize Your Skin

If your skin dries out, it can give you the rough and scaly look of an older person. Wash your skin once or twice a day. Try to be fairly gentle because hard scrubbing can irritate it. Use a mild cleanser without alcohol or other ingredients that could inflame, roughen, or dry out your skin. Moisturize with cream twice a day to help seal in moisture that keeps you looking young.

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photo of mediterranean diet
5 / 11

You're Not Eating Healthy

The right foods help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses that sap your youthful energy. Consider the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. It's good for your brain, too. You may have to cut back a little on fatty red meat, but you'll get healthy fats from foods like fish, nuts, olive oil, and avocado, as well as plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

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photo of couple walking outside
6 / 11

You Don't Exercise Enough

Regular physical activity is a key way to keep yourself feeling young. It strengthens your muscles, boosts your energy, and improves your mood. Moving around keeps your brain sharp and lessens the risk of age-related diseases like heart disease. You don't need to go to a gym or join a rugby team. Some brisk walking, yard work, or even dancing is just fine -- 30 minutes on most days of the week should do the trick.

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photo of person wearing sunglasses
7 / 11

You Squint a Lot

When you squint, you crinkle up the skin on your face, which over time can lead to lines and wrinkles. Actually, any expression you make over and over can be a problem. If you're outside a lot, sunglasses might keep you from squinting and help prevent the "crow's feet" that can develop on the outside corners of your eyes. A large brimmed hat wouldn't hurt either.

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photo of group painting class
8 / 11

You Don't Have a Social Network

Staying connected with friends and family can help you stay young at heart -- and boost your emotional and physical health, too. It helps stave off anxiety, depression, and the dementia linked to old age, including Alzheimer's disease. And when you look for a community, remember, it's the quality of your social connections that matter, not the quantity.

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photo of someone taking blood pressure
9 / 11

You Don't Watch Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure raises your risk of age-related problems like vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease, probably because it damages the tiny blood vessels in your brain. People who control their blood pressure with diet, exercise, and medication seem to be able to slow or prevent this brain decline.

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photo of volunteers
10 / 11

You Don't Lend a Helping Hand

Your body releases more "pleasure hormones," or endorphins, when you spend money on other people than when you spend it on yourself. But it doesn't have to be money. The calmness, pleasure, and connection you feel when you help someone often makes you do it more, which in turn makes you even calmer and happier. It lowers stress and may even help your heart health and immune system -- your body's defense against germs.

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photo of doctor patient visit
11 / 11

You Skip Your Checkup

You should see your doctor for a physical exam every year after age 50. She'll check your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. High levels can lead to heart disease, dementia, and other age-related illness. She may also check for any signs of mental decline, like memory problems. The earlier you find out about problems, the quicker you can start to treat them.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 08/07/2019 Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on August 07, 2019

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SOURCES:

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Alzheimer's Association: "What Is Dementia?"

Alzheimer's Society: "Smoking and dementia."

American Academy of Dermatology: "What causes our skin to age?" "How to create an anti-aging skin care plan."

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Effects of Sun Exposure."

American Cancer Society: "How Do I Protect Myself from Ultraviolet (UV) Rays?"

American Heart Association: "Why High Blood Pressure is a "Silent Killer," "Lifestyle Changes for Heart Attack Prevention."

CDC: "Tips for Better Sleep."

Cleveland Clinic: "Wrinkles."

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Harvard University: "Loneliness: An Epidemic?"

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.Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings: "Molecular Basis of Tobacco Smoke-Induced Premature Skin Aging."

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Mayo Clinic: "Diet and exercise," "Age spots (liver spots)," "Is it true that smoking causes wrinkles?" "Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep," "Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity."

Medscape: "The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Hormones and Metabolism."

MentalHealth.net: "Socialization and Altruistic Acts as Stress Relief."

Mental Health Foundation: "Altruism and wellbeing."

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Calculate Body Mass Index."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Health Risks of Being Overweight."

National Institutes of Health Research Matters: "Sleep deprivation increases Alzheimer's protein."

National Institute on Aging: "How Is Alzheimer's Disease Diagnosed?"

National Sleep Foundation: "How Losing Sleep Affects Your Body and Mind."

Piedmont Hospital: "4 silent killers of men."

Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences: "A community-based exercise programme to improve functional ability in people with Alzheimer's disease: a randomized controlled trial."

Trends in Cognitive Sciences: "Perceived Social Isolation and Cognition."

University of California Berkley: "The Benefits of Giving."

World Health Organization: "The known health effects of UV."

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on August 07, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.