7 ways to look and feel younger and healthier based on research

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published July 22, 2019

Key Takeaways

What’s the secret to looking young and feeling healthy? You know the answer: Eating right and getting exercise. If you’re already doing that—or if you don’t have the time and energy to do that—there are other easy ways to look younger and feel healthier. As a bonus, most of them don’t cost very much or take up a lot of time.

Put on a happy face

Have you heard the phrase “Fake it ‘til you make it”? It applies to smiling, too. Believe it or not, the more you smile, the happier you’ll feel (not just the other way around). Smiling reduces stress and makes you feel more positive. More to the point, researchers found that people who smile are often perceived as being younger than their actual age, while people who frown appear to be older than they really are. So, turn that frown upside down and put on a happy face.

Get together with friends

Make time for friends—they’ll keep you young and healthy. For real. According to one study, having strong friendships can actually help you live longer, be healthier, and feel more youthful. In an important study, researchers found that people who had strong social connections had lower measures of obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure. So, call up your old pals—see a movie, go bowling, or just meet for coffee. It’s a fun way to feel young and be healthy.

Wear sunscreen

Nothing says old age like leathery skin, sunspots, and wrinkles. So, slather on the sunscreen to keep your skin from looking old. But here’s the trick: Sunscreen isn’t just for the beach—wear it regularly, no matter the weather, experts advise. In a randomized trial in sunny Australia, researchers showed that middle-aged adults who applied a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily had skin that was 24% younger compared with those who wore it only when they thought they needed it. Another thing to consider: A broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen from the drug store is far less expensive than anti-aging and anti-wrinkle creams from the department store.

Have sex

Do we have your attention now? According to an expert on aging, having sex regularly can make you look and feel up to 7 years younger. For middle-aged adults, that means getting busy about 3 times per week. This amorous activity provides a Fountain-of-Youth effect by producing endorphins, boosting circulation, and releasing human growth hormone, which makes the skin look more elastic. Try that argument on your partner or spouse.

Smell like grapefruit

Want to look younger? Smell like citrus. In a small clinical trial, the smell of grapefruit caused men to perceive the age of women to be 5 years younger than they actually were. The scents of grape and cucumber had no such effect on men’s perception of age. Interestingly, the smell of grapefruit had no influence on women’s ability to judge the age of men (or women, for that matter). The researchers hypothesized that the aroma of grapefruit arouses a heightened sense of wellbeing in men, which leads to a more “optimistic” view of the physical attributes of the women around them.

Get a dog

Old age is for the dogs? Yes, it certainly is. Dog owners are likely to live longer than their pet-free peers, according to the authors of a large 12-year follow-up study. Owning a dog is even better for you if you’re single, with a 33% reduced risk of mortality and 11% lower risk of heart attack compared with dog-less single people. The reasons for such reductions? Having a dog tends to increase a person’s activity level, but also increases well-being and social interaction. The dog may even have a positive influence on the owner’s bacterial microbiome, the researchers suggested. (However, the researchers couldn’t rule out that people who choose to have a dog may already be more active and in better health.)

Have a purpose in life

Having a purpose in life may help you live longer. In a study that included nearly 7,000 middle-aged and older adults, those with the strongest sense of purpose in life had a significantly lower risk of all-cause mortality compared with those who had the least sense of purpose, researchers recently reported in JAMA Network Open. People with a stronger purpose in life also had lower mortality related to heart, circulatory, and blood conditions. The researchers defined purpose in life as “a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals, promotes healthy behaviors, and gives meaning to life.”

Doctors, in particular, seem to find great purpose in life through their chosen profession. Perhaps this is why they are so reluctant to retire.

Share with emailShare to FacebookShare to LinkedInShare to Twitter