Last updated: November 12, 2023
Pro-aging is an idea that emphasizes positive attitudes towards aging and encourages people to embrace the aging process instead of fearing it.
This realistic approach promotes the idea that aging is a natural and inevitable part of life, and that people should focus on staying healthy and active throughout their lives. Makes sense, right?
As a scientist in the field of aging for over a decade, I find it refreshing to see the focus shift to what really matters for a change. A focus on what is real, what’s tangible, and what’s actually beneficial.
There is less money to be made on the commercial end of aging with this approach, and perhaps that’s why it doesn’t have the same momentum of the anti-aging industry. Perhaps that’s why you should pay even more attention to it.
The Pro-Aging Movement
Pro-aging advocates reject the idea that aging is something to be fought or avoided, and instead encourage people to celebrate the wisdom, experience, and maturity that come with age.
This movement emphasizes the importance of healthy lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and stress reduction, to support healthy aging.
This idea also emphasizes the importance of self-care and self-love at any age. It supports the idea that people should value themselves regardless of their age or physical appearance.
Overall, pro-aging promotes a positive and empowering view of aging and encourages people to embrace their later years as a time of continued growth and fulfillment.
Honestly all these things are great things in my book, for people of every age.
Anti-aging vs pro-aging
Anti-aging and pro-aging are two different approaches to the process of aging.
This first term refers to treatments that aim to slow down the physical signs of aging. For example, wrinkles, age spots, and sagging skin.
These practices may include using anti-aging skincare products, undergoing cosmetic procedures, or taking supplements that claim to have anti-aging properties.
The underlying assumption of the anti-aging approach is that aging is undesirable and something to be fought against.
Pro-aging, on the other hand, promotes the idea that aging is a natural and inevitable part of life. That people should focus on staying healthy and active throughout their lives. The underlying assumption of this approach is that aging is a normal and valuable part of the human experience.
Essentially, while anti-aging focuses on fighting the physical signs of aging, pro-aging focuses on embracing the aging process and promoting healthy aging through positive lifestyle choices and attitudes. Which approach most resonates with you?
Potential consequences of the anti-aging movement
The consequences of the anti-aging movement are complex and multifaceted. While the anti-aging movement may have some benefits, such as improving the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, it also has several potential negative consequences, including:
It promotes the idea that aging is something to be feared and fought against, which can reinforce ageist attitudes and discrimination towards older individuals.
Can be costly and risky
Many anti-aging treatments, such as cosmetic procedures or supplements, can be expensive and may carry potential health risks or side effects.
Can create unrealistic beauty standards
The anti-aging movement promotes a narrow and unrealistic beauty standard that can contribute to body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem, particularly among women.
Can promote unhealthy behaviors
The focus on youth and beauty in the anti-aging movement may lead individuals to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as extreme dieting or over-exercising, in an effort to maintain a youthful appearance.
Can lead to bio-hacking
People can misunderstand the use and potential outcome of drugs to “reverse aging,” which is simply not possible. There will never be a drug that can replace a healthy lifestyle that incorporates a good balance of physical fitness, nutrition, sleep, mindset and community.
Can contribute to environmental issues
The anti-aging industry is often associated with excessive packaging and waste, contributing to environmental issues such as pollution and climate change.
Overall, the consequences of the anti-aging movement are complex and far-reaching. While the movement may offer some benefits, it’s important to consider the potential negative consequences and to promote a more positive and inclusive view of aging.
Fun Fact: Lifestyle has more control over your longevity than genetics.
Benefits of promoting a positive aging mindset
Pro-aging has several potential benefits for individuals.
Positive attitudes towards aging
It encourages a positive and empowering view of aging, which can help individuals to embrace the natural aging process instead of fearing it.
Improved mental health
It encourages self-care and self-love, which can help to improve mental health and well-being.
Increased physical health
It emphasizes healthy lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise and healthy eating habits, which can help to improve physical health and reduce the risk of age-related health problems.
Greater sense of purpose
It encourages people to continue to learn, grow, and pursue their passions throughout their lives, which can lead to a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment.
It promotes stress-reducing practices, such as mindfulness and relaxation techniques, which can help people to better cope with stress and anxiety related to aging.
It encourages individuals to connect with others and build supportive relationships, which can lead to greater social support and a stronger sense of community.
Overall, the benefits of pro-aging are numerous and can help individuals to live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives as they age.
Benefits of a Healthy Aging Mindset
The pro-aging movement has several potential benefits.
Encourages a positive attitude towards aging
It helps to reduce age-related stigma and promote positive attitudes towards aging.
Promotes healthy aging
It emphasizes the importance of healthy lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and stress reduction, which can help individuals to age well and maintain their physical and mental health.
Reduces stress and anxiety
It encourages individuals to embrace their age and focus on living their best life at any age, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety related to aging.
It recognizes that aging is a unique and individual experience and encourages diversity and inclusivity within the aging community.
It encourages individuals of all ages to connect and learn from each other, promoting intergenerational relationships and understanding.
Fosters a sense of community
It encourages individuals to connect with others and build supportive communities, which can help to reduce isolation and promote social support.
Overall, the pro-aging movement promotes a positive and empowering view of aging, which can have numerous benefits for individuals and society as a whole.
By embracing the aging process and promoting healthy and fulfilling lifestyles at any age, the pro-aging movement has the potential to create a more inclusive, supportive, and vibrant aging community.
Activities that promote healthy aging
Activities that promote pro-aging include those that emphasize healthy lifestyles, positive attitudes towards aging, and engagement with others. Some examples of pro-aging activities include:
- Regular physical activity has been shown to improve physical health and reduce the risk of age-related health problems.
- Mindfulness and meditation. These practices can help to reduce stress and anxiety related to aging and promote a more positive and mindful approach to life.
- Engaging in creative pursuits, such as art or music, can promote mental and emotional well-being and provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
- Continuing to learn and pursue new interests and hobbies can help to promote cognitive health and prevent cognitive decline.
- Staying connected with others through social activities, volunteering, or community involvement can provide a sense of purpose and social support.
- Engaging in regular self-care activities, such as taking care of your skin or getting enough sleep, can promote physical and mental health and a positive attitude towards aging.
Essentially, these activities are those that promote a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle, a positive attitude towards aging, and engagement with others and the world around you.
Where to Start
Begin with the basics and build from there.
Proper nutrition reduces your risk for a variety of aging-related diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It reduces the odds of getting sick in the short term and increases your ability to recover from it.
Where to start? Start with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for promoting health and preventing chronic disease.
Physical fitness improves your balance, coordination, cardiovascular health, muscle and bone strength and keeps you independent longer. All of these are important if you want to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
The CDC has published a great article on physical fitness and how to get started on your journey toward it.
Sleep gives your body the time in needs to repair itself. Adequate sleep improves your energy, perspective, memory, ability to focus, productivity, mood and how easy it is for others to interact with you.
Where to start? The CDC has published another great article on sleep hygiene and included resources you can build upon from there.
Mindset is the way you approach life, the challenges and the setbacks. A healthy mindset lets you keep things in perspective and to make the most of your days.
A healthy mindset leads to improved physical and mental health, greater independence, a supportive community and a happier lifestyle.
Where to start? A recent report by Stanford University explains in detail why mindset matters and how to going about achieving a healthy one.
These four pillars will have the most profound impact on your current and future life.
Pro tip: A healthy lifestyle is not all or nothing. It’s a compromise between what you know you should do and what you want to do.
Some commonly asked questions about pro-aging and anti-aging.
Pro-aging is the perspective and attitude of embracing who you are and making the most of it.
Yes! Diet and lifestyle choices have an enormous impact on how well you age.
The only proven products to influence appearance as we age are vitamin C, retinol and sunscreen.
Practice gratitude, focus on what you can control, challenge negative stereotypes about aging, stay engaged, embrace change and adopt a growth mindset.
Focus on the positive, practice self-care, wear clothes that make you feel confident and comfortable in, learn new things, surround yourself with positive people, and celebrate your achievements.
You can promote a more inclusive perspective toward aging by educating yourself first, by engaging with older adults and advocating for policies that support older adults you can help support their needs better.
You can cope with natural, age-related changes by staying physically active, establishing a healthy diet, managing chronic conditions, keeping your mind active, getting enough sleep and remaining engaged in your community.
Final Thoughts: Pro-aging Matters
Remember, aging is a natural part of life, and there is much to celebrate about getting older. By embracing a positive attitude towards aging and celebrating the aging process, you can feel more confident, positive, and empowered as you move forward in life.