Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness and nutrition courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
1. I support my aging process, and the health of my cells, by:
D—Cellular health has an undeniable influence on how well you age. Cells are the foundation of all living things, and we humans have more than 30 trillion of them. These tiny structures make up more complex structures called tissues, which in turn make up the heart, liver, skin, muscles and other organs. What all this means: the health of your individual cells determines the health of your overall being.
2. I would describe my energy level as:
A—Lower energy levels are common as we age. Many factors play into a slump in stamina. One of the most important (and fixable): a reduction in the body’s production of NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). NAD+ is an important molecule that plays a crucial role in cellular energy production, supporting the mitochondria—the powerhouses of the cells that supply cells with energy. But as we age, our bodies produce less and less, and between the ages of 40 and 60, NAD+ production drops by as much as 50 percent. Support your body’s NAD+ production and increase energy with healthy lifestyle habits and a nutrient-dense diet with moderate calories. Try a vitamin B3 supplement, such as nicotinamide riboside, to promote your body’s natural production of NAD+.
3. I eat five servings of vegetables:
A—Colorful vegetables like carrots, red peppers, sweet potatoes, beets and dark leafy greens along with fruit, and legumes are high in antioxidants that help protect the mitochondria from free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to expedited aging. Other foods rich in nutrients that support energy metabolism and may increase the body’s production of NAD+ include lean protein, whole grains, and seeds. Eat a variety, focus on vibrantly colored selections, and shoot for 3-5 cups a day of fruit and vegetables.
4. I walk, run, bike or do some other kind of exercise:
C—Exercise is crucial for vital aging, and a sedentary lifestyle magnifies the effects of time. An active lifestyle helps cells defend against oxidative damage, and regular exercises increases stamina, helps your body use energy more efficiently and supports healthy aging. But consistently exercising to exhaustion can increase cellular aging. Shoot for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, with more strenuous workouts several times a week. If you’re a gym rat or uber-athlete, offset free radicals generated by high-intensity exercise, with a mitochondrial supplement. Some of the best: coenzyme Q10, glutathione, alpha-lipoic acid, carnitine, and NAD+ precursors.
5. After working out, I recover by:
A or B—What you do right after a workout has a big impact on how quickly your body recovers. Hydration is key, to replenish lost fluids and prevent muscle soreness. A healthy snack that includes high-quality protein (like Greek yogurt, lean turkey, or a protein shake) helps repair and rebuild muscle. Combine this with a moderate amount of carbs such as berries, or whole grains and you will be on your way to recovery. Avoid high-fat foods immediately post workout; they can slow digestion and can hamper recovery.
6. On a weekly basis, my alcohol consumption is:
C— A scientific review suggested light to moderate alcohol consumption may support heart health and lower incidence of diabetes. Red wine contains compounds such as resveratrol, which can support antioxidant activity in the body. But higher levels of alcohol damage cells and contribute to aging, and heavy drinking—defined as 15 or more drinks per week for men, 8 or more per week for women—is linked with an increased risk of liver disease, pancreatitis, heart disease, some forms of cancer and increased mortality. Make alcohol consumption a treat, not a habit, and stick to no more than one drink a day for men, less for women.
7. I feel anxious, nervous, stressed, tense or overwhelmed:
A or B—A little bit of anxiety enhances alertness, performance, and psychological resilience. But chronic stress interrupts sleep, increases inflammation, accelerates aging and, over time, increases the risk of certain diseases. Stress is inevitable; what’s important is how you handle it. If every little bump in the road throws you into a tizzy, try body-mind practices that promote relaxation; try yoga, tai chi, meditation, or deep breathing to restore balance and ease.
8. I eat added sugar, refined grains, processed foods or fast foods:
C—Sugar and refined grains spike blood sugar and can promote inflammation, and fast foods and processed snacks overwhelm cells with free radicals, weakening and destroying mitochondria, sapping energy, and accelerating aging. Swap sugary, refined, processed fare for whole, nutrient-dense foods, like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and lean protein to nourish cells, increase the body’s production of NAD+ and support energy metabolism. Some research also suggests a low-carb, ketogenic diet can decrease the number of free radicals generated by cells, and caloric restriction or intermittent fasting may also reduce free radical, support cellular health and slow the effects of time.
9. I drink ________ glasses of ________ every day.
D—Water is critical for life; it supports nutrient transfer and every metabolic function in the body, and it makes up more than 70 percent of our bodies. Even mild dehydration can lead to weakness, lethargy, and fatigue. And if you’re an athlete, you need even more water to replace fluids lost during workouts. But the right kind of fluid is crucial; avoid juice drinks, sodas or other high-sugar beverages, and opt for plain water. Limit the plastic bottles and stuff from the tap and invest in a high-quality water filter. And amp up your water, with an electrolyte mix or nicotinamide riboside powder to help defend and power your cells.
10. I get eight hours of restful sleep and wake up refreshed:
A—Restful sleep relieves stress, supports energy, benefits your brain and promotes healthier aging. Chronic sleep deprivation stresses cells, making them more susceptible to damage. Even occasional bouts of insomnia can impact health, and chronic lack of sleep is linked with a higher risk of stroke, heart attack and other diseases. Prioritize shut-eye: aim for eight hours every night, to give your cells plenty of time to heal. Get on a regular schedule to support your body’s natural circadian rhythms, including the sleep-wake cycle. And turn off electronics an hour before bed—blue light from devices can interfere with circadian rhythms and disrupt sleep.
11. I’m outside in the sun:
C—Short-term exposure to sunlight promotes vitamin D production, increases serotonin levels, and supports healthy mood and sleep. But excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays can damage DNA, stressing cells, depleting NAD+ and accelerating aging. You can still soak up the sun’s healing benefits, without damaging cells: start your long hikes or beach walks earlier in the morning, when the sun’s UV rays are less intense. Cover up exposed areas of skin, limit prolonged exposure, and always wear a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, even on cloudy days. If you do overdo it, get back on track: stay super-hydrated, amp up antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and take a mitochondrial supplement to boost NAD+ and help support your cells.
CALCULATING YOUR SCORE
Add up the number of questions you got right, and see how well you’re really aging:
10 to 11: Congratulations! You’re aging with grace and vitality. Keep doing what you’re doing: those already-healthy habits are your fountain of youth.
7 to 9: Not bad—you’re doing most things right. Focus on those few questions you got wrong; a few small tweaks to your daily habits will get you back on the path to healthy aging.
1 to 6: You’re growing old before your time—start making changes, right now. Take a good, hard look at your daily routine, and see where you can make healthier swaps. Tackle easier-to-fix habits first, like wearing sunscreen or drinking more water. And you may need extra support; add a mitochondrial supplement, to reduce the impact of aging and daily wear and tear.