Provo, Utah is home to the happiest and healthiest seniors. Utahns are more likely to stay active, independent, and mobile compared to other people their age — however, they are also more likely to show their age. Utah’s environment is conducive to skin aging, making residents appear more than a bit older.
Stop aging at its track and hold on to your youthful features with just a few simple measures.
Block the Sun
Sunlight, particularly ultraviolet (UV) radiation, is the leading cause of skin aging. Utahns have it bad as UV concentration can go up by 8 percent for every 1,000 feet of elevation. Salt Lake City and Provo residents get hit by 32 percent more UV, and people living in Park City get exposed to more than 50 percent higher UV concentrations. UV radiation damages your skin at a cellular level, disrupting the production of collagen and elastin.
Collagen gives your skin strength and firmness, making it less likely to crack. Elastin provides elasticity to your skin and lower levels will give it a tendency to sag. Constant exposure to UV also increases the risk of developing skin cancer and melanomas — and Utah has one of the highest rates of the two conditions in the nation. Protect yourself from UV by avoiding the sun, particularly when it is at its height (10 AM-2 PM).
Wear clothing that limits your skin’s exposure to the sun and wear a hat to protect your face. If the UV index is particularly high (around 5 or higher), use an umbrella to ward off direct sunlight. Use sunblock when you need to go out into the sun with limited cover or protection — but remember to re-apply frequently as its efficacy only lasts a couple of hours.
Another culprit that depletes your body of collagen and elastin is smoking. Inhaled smoke make their way to the lungs and get absorbed into the body as free radicals — damaging the production of both collagen and elastin. Nicotine can also restrict the natural flow of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in the gray or orange skin tone that marks heavy smokers. The effects of smoking on the skin are largely reversible. Quitting will immediately increase your oxygen levels in a couple of days and your collagen and elastin levels should go back to normal in 2-3 weeks.
With altitude comes drier air — and Utah air is drier than the Sahara’s. Most Utahns also drink less than their body needs, as elevation also diminishes feelings of thirst. Dry skin is more likely to crack and develop wrinkles. Proper hydration by consciously drinking water can limit the effects of dehydration on your skin — but you might need to use moisturizers to keep your skin healthy and looking young. This is especially true for older women, as the oil production of the skin diminishes significantly after menopause.
Follow a strict moisturizing regimen before you sleep, preferably using cream-based moisturizers. Bring a mist spray to the office, as air conditioning can dry the air even more. Buy a humidifier or swamp cooler — they increase the humidity in a room by introducing water droplets into the air.
Get Your Blood Flowing
Increased blood flow works wonders on your skin. Blood flow nourishes the skin with oxygen and nutrients, while also carrying away free radicals. Exercise is a great way to increase blood flow — just make sure you do it away from the sun. Spa treatments and massages can increase blood flow to certain parts of the body. Facial treatments can stimulate blood flow to the face while also activating cells to produce more collagen and elastin.
Maintaining proper weight makes you look younger and keeps your skin healthy. Gaining weight can alter your epidermal barrier and increase the skin’s moisture loss. Subcutaneous fat can also increase the skin’s production of sebum (fatty oils) and sweat — while impairing its production of collagen. Type 2 diabetes can drop collagen levels to dangerous lows, impairing the skin’s ability to heal from wounds.
Proper diet is essential in maintaining proper weight, as is physical activity. Utah’s outdoor culture has helped residents stay within their proper weight range for decades — just make sure to have adequate sun protection during your walks, runs, or hikes.
Growing old might be inevitable — but looking old isn’t. Utahns are some of the spriest seniors in the nation, it’s only fitting that they look how they feel. A few measures can stop the hands of time from stealing your youthful looks, and all you need to do is make a few simple changes.