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The secret to feeling younger at your next birthday

Okay, so you can’t stop chronological age. With every birthday and blowing of candles, you add a year. But can you slow your biological age, how old your cells and tissues are?

The answer is yes. In fact, biological age is a more important number than chronological age.

Recent research shows that you can be younger than your chronological age through living a healthy lifestyle. In particular, keeping your heart healthy and strong serves double duty — as heart health goes up, biological aging goes down.

A younger biological age means healthier insides and better physiological health. Not only will you be “younger,” but this may also translate to a lower risk for major health problems like heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The researchers think this may be linked to less inflammation and oxidative stress, which protects the lining of blood vessels.

Those in the study with strong cardiovascular health were on average five years younger than their chronological age. Those with poor cardiovascular health were on average four years older than their chronological age.

While strong cardiovascular health is the goal, Dr. Patrycja Galazka, a cardiologist at Aurora Health Care, says, “According to statistics, the prevalence of ideal cardiovascular health is very low — less than 1% for all age groups studied and typically further declines with age. Therefore, it is extremely important to take care of one’s heart throughout the lifespan.”

So, how do you achieve this? Dr. Galazka recommends prioritizing your heart health by following the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8:

  1. Eat better
  2. Be more active
  3. Quit tobacco
  4. Get healthy sleep
  5. Manage weight
  6. Control cholesterol
  7. Manage blood sugar
  8. Manage blood pressure

The goal is to incorporate as many of these eight areas as possible. High scores in each of these categories equals high cardiovascular health and lower biological age. Interestingly, the two categories that increased biological aging the most in the study were high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels.

“It’s never too late to start focusing on your health. Heart healthy habits are linked to a longer, healthier, and fuller life,” adds Dr Galazka.

Is your heart at risk? Take a free online quiz to learn more. 

This article originally appeared on health enews.

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