STOPPING THE CLOCK: How to Slow Down the Effects of Aging

Growing old stinks. Stuff stops working like it used to, and you feel like it’s just a normal part of life. But, is it? While we all inevitably get old, we have a large degree of control over how we age. Sometimes, we can even slow down, stop, or even temporarily reverse the aging process. Here’s how.

Get Sun, But Not Too Much 

Everyone tells you to get out of the sun. This can be good advice but the way it’s often given is absolutely ridiculous. The primary way our bodies make vitamin D is by exposure to UVB rays - the kind of rays from the sun responsible for sunburns. 

Now, you don’t want to actually get a sunburn, but you do want exposure to some of those rays. Why? Because they are actually very good for your body. In a large epidemiological study of 2,100 female twin pairs, researchers found that increased vitamin D levels were correlated with an increase in telomere length. What is telomere length? Telomeres are “end caps” on your chromosomes that protect your DNA from damage. Think of it like the end of your shoelaces - that hard plastic or metal cap that protect the rest of the lace from fraying.

Sun Bathing

This is what a telomere does for your DNA. Protecting it from damage is very important, since damage can result in certain health problems. On top of this, shortened telomeres are a sign of aging, and telomeres normally shorten each time a cell divides. Eventually, those telomeres become so short that no further cell divisions are possible. Since vitamin D seems to help keep those telomeres longer, it makes sense to get more vitamin D, up to a certain range. Researchers say the sweet spot for the vitamin is between 30 and 60 ng/ml of blood. So, get tested and get out and get some sun. 

Stop Smoking 

Smoking accelerates the aging process by increasing free radicals. These free radicals then cause damage to various parts of your body, most notably, your skin, but also other organs. This is not new science. Stop smoking. It’s good for your health, and will help you slow down the aging process. 

Consider Plastic Surgery 

When all else fails, consider some plastic surgery. Plastic surgery, like the type done through can help you erase the signs of aging through surgical means. While this may not necessarily slow down aging, it can give you an instant facelift or tummy tuck - something that some people can’t achieve through diet and lifestyle change alone. 


Exercise is one of the best ways to reverse the aging process, especially barbell or weight training. Periodic stress that’s induced through heavy weight training helps upregulate the production (generation) of mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell - remember grade school science?). These mitochondria help keep cells energized and going.

Woman Running

But, weight training also signals growth factors in the body, since the process of weight training includes micro-trauma to the muscles. This micro-trauma is the key to reversing the aging process, since growth factor signaling, and growth itself, is the exact opposite of what happens to you when you’re dying. 


Aside from basic diet and lifestyle changes, one of the best things you can do is to destress your life. Chronic stress is incredibly damaging to the body, especially the mind. Take up meditation, spending at least 10 minutes each day with it, and you’ll notice the differences almost immediately. Start with an app like Headspace

Dr. Kevin Ruhge is a member of the surgical staff at Huntington Hospital, Huntington Outpatient Surgery Center, and the Arcadia Outpatient Surgery Center. A member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, he specializes in cosmetic surgery of the face, body and breasts. His enlightening and helpful articles appear mostly on medical and health and wellness websites and blogs.

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