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Apr 08, 2024

What does healthy ageing look like? Also, what does the science of ageing tell us about longevity, the role of lifestyle factors, genetics and more?

As we grow older, these questions take centre stage. Everyone ages, but the way we age differs from person to person. The ageing process is a complex interplay of biological, environmental and even sociological factors.

But for everyone who wants to age gracefully, the field of ageing science is helping people beat the stereotypes of growing older, slow the ageing process and make the most of the years they are given.

So, what are the most important factors in the ageing process? Let’s take a look.

Longevity and lifestyle

Lifestyle factors play a significant role in the ageing process. Regular exercise, a balanced diet rich in fruits and veggies, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking and excessive drinking can add years to your life.

It’s not just about living to as old an age as possible. Ageing gracefully is much more important. You want to be able to enjoy every moment.

Oh, and don’t forget your sunscreen.

Genetics and ageing

While healthy lifestyle choices can stack the odds in your favour, your genes also have a say in how you age. While it’s true that you may have higher odds of living longer if you have a family history of people reaching a great age, lifestyle changes can still tip the scales in your favour. Your genes are the foundation, but how you build on that foundation is equally important.

Ageing at a cellular level

Ever heard of telomeres? Much like the protective caps on the ends of shoelaces, telomeres are the protective ‘caps’ for your chromosomes. As you age, these caps naturally wear down, leading to cellular ageing. Lifestyle factors like stress and poor diet can speed up this process. Learning how to manage stress and ensuring your diet includes foods rich in antioxidants are essential to protecting your telomeres.

Over the past decade, research into reversing telomere damage has shown great promise, with a study published on Nature.com, called “Telomerase reactivation reverses tissue degeneration in aged telomerase-deficient mice”, showing results in as little as four weeks in an attempt to reverse telomere damage in mice.

But while there isn’t a telomere damage miracle medicine, the small choices you make every day might make the biggest difference.

The mind-body connection

Ageing is just as much about your mind as it is about your body. A study published on the National Library of Medicine website, called “Circumstances that promote social connectedness in older adults participating in intergenerational programmes with adolescents: a realist review” states that “Limited social connectedness is a risk for poor health and wellbeing in older adults”.

So, maintaining strong social connections, staying mentally active, and cultivating a positive and resilient mindset can all contribute to graceful ageing. Also, never underestimate the power of learning. It keeps your mind healthy and active.

The science of ageing is understanding more about that the human body and ageing process every day. While influencers and beauty companies may all tout the latest solutions and products that claim to be the answer to all ageing woes, the proactive steps we take to age with grace and vitality may just be the key differentiators. Eating well, moderate exercise, keeping your friends and family close, and maintaining a thirst for knowledge and learning are essential.

So, here's to embracing the journey of ageing, wrinkles and all.



Circumstances that promote social connectedness in older adults participating in intergenerational programmes with adolescents: a realist review. NLM. 2023. Available here.

Aging by Telomere Loss Can Be Reversed. Science Direct. 2010. Available here.

Telomerase reactivation reverses tissue degeneration in aged telomerase-deficient mice. Nature.com. 2010. Available here

Healthy Ageing Strategy. New Zealand Ministry of Health. 2016. Available here.

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