Many of us spend a disproportionate amount of time worrying about ageing. We’ll do anything to appear younger, from rejuvenating laser treatments and Botox injections to restylane fillers and even surgery.

Society’s current quest for “perma-youth” is a disturbing take on the natural process of ageing.

“The foods you eat, your response to emotional challenges, the amount of exercise you get, whether you were exposed to childhood stress and even the level of trust and safety in your neighbourhood are all factors which influence your telomeres and can prevent premature ageing at a cellular level,” writes molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD with co-author Elissa Epel, PhD, in The Telomere Effect: The New Science of Living Younger (Orion Spring).

Adopt these five good habits now to invest in a more vital and resilient future you:

  1. NURTURE AN AGE-DEFYING ATTITUDE

As our life expectancy continues to climb, a growing movement of women are shirking the anti-ageing movement. This “no-age” mindset bucks all the stereotypes. Known as “perennials”, they’re embracing a full, youthful lifestyle with a focus on looking their best, rather than desperately trying to look young.

This positive perception of ageing actually helps you age better. Researchers discovered a correlation between those who have a positive attitude to ageing and those who live longer, healthier lives, with those individuals with more positive self-perceptions of ageing living seven and half years longer than those with less positive perceptions.

  1. KEEP MOVING

According to recent research by the Mayo Clinic, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can rejuvenate the cells that repair the body. HIIT involves short bursts of intense activity, combined with periods of lower-intensity exercise.

READ MORE: ‘Black don’t crack’: Everything you need to know about ageing

Sreekumaran Nair, lead senior author of the study published in the Cell journal, says: “Based on everything we know, there’s no substitute for HIIT when it comes to delaying the ageing process.”

EASY EXERCISE TIPS:

Leslie Longueira, MD of Ignition Health (@IgnitionHealth), advises a minimum of 20 minutes’ exercise daily. She also suggests the following:

  • “Take a rest day once or even twice a week. This allows your muscles and joints to recover and repair.”
  • “In addition to HIIT training (120 minutes a week), my suggestion per week would be:

– 30 minutes of weight training (improves strength and tone, but helps prevent osteoporosis in the long term);

– 30 minutes of stretching (helps you stay supple and less prone to injury);

– 30 minutes of core/Pilates (decreases the chances of lower-back issues).”

  1. LOVE YOUR SKIN

Dermatologists agree that the best thing you can do for your skin is prevent sun damage. All skin types should wear sunscreen,  with SPF values of 15 of higher, every day of the year.

Make sure you avoid the sun between 10am and 3pm as this is when ultraviolet rays are strongest.

  1. EAT BALANCED MEALS

Eating well isn’t a complicated, mysterious formula. Michael Pollan, renowned food researcher, author and professor of journalism at Berkeley University, says that what he knows can be summarised in seven words: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

READ MORE: Navigating age and the quest of wanting to remain younger

By that, he means eat unprocessed, fresh foods (the kind your grandmother would recognise), don’t overeat and eat mostly fruit and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and lysine, all collagen-boosters that help keep your skin supple.

The main food to avoid is processed meat, which speeds up the shortening of our telomeres.

  1. EMBRACE YOUR CURVES

“As African women, we’re always trying to get rid of our curves,” says Sbahla Mpisane (24), a wellness and fitness motivator (@fitnessbunnie_sbahlempisane) who’s studying housing and town planning at Howard College.

Rather than dieting and trying to be skinny, she says it’s better to focus on your wellness. “I decided to embrace my body – to be fit and healthy, and to stop body-shaming myself,” says Mpisane, who believes we should be eating the natural foods that older generations grew up eating.

“Our grans age, but they don’t crack!”

MPISANE’S ANTI-AGEING HABITS

  • Eat fruit and veggies: “Get a good balance in your diet. Shop on the outer perimeters of the grocery store where there are fresh, non-processed foods.”
  • Work out: “The younger you start, the better, but it’s never too late. It will be harder, but by changing your lifestyle, you’re almost reversing the ageing process and strengthening your immune system too.”
  • Cut out sugar: “I’ve removed it from my diet. Like any drug – nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, etc – your body craves it. It dehydrates you and ages your skin.”
  • Drink your veggies: “If you don’t like eating veggies, make a smoothie. I add pineapple to mine.”
  • Drink green tea: “It’s full of antioxidants and a great detoxifier.”
  • Stay hydrated: “Drink three litres of water a day.”
  • Eat two to three hours before bedtime: “Don’t eat carbs at night. Rather have veggies and protein.”
  • Get six to eight hours’ sleep a night: “Get to sleep by 10pm, as you get your most restorative sleep before midnight. Your body needs time to recover and repair.”