8 Secrets to a Younger Looking Back

  • A straight and strong back is not only beautiful, it's a sign that you're warding off osteoporosis. Unless you're in a changing room with three-way mirrors, you don't see your back. Other people do, though. A "dowager's hump" can give away your age and – worse - be a sign of brittle bones. Also, in bathing suits or low-cut tops, you definitely want your skin to be a smooth and age-spot-free as possible.

    Here are eight strategies for making yourself look great coming and going – and protecting your bones, too!

  • Use a back scrubber in the shower Every day, gently exfoliate and cleanse all the areas of your back that you wouldn't be able to reach without a long-handled brush. Go easy so you don't harm your epidermis, but be thorough. Rinse completely and then pat dry rather than rubbing.
  • Use Sunscreen and Moisturizer Forgetting about your back when you're using products on your face and neck is all too easy. And again, because you don't see telltale wrinkles and age spots on your back very often, you may ignore that area. Get into the habit of treating it just as well as you do the rest of your body.
  • Eat a calcium-rich diet Avoiding the hump in your upper back as you age has a lot to do with keeping your bones strong. Experts now say that calcium supplements are not protection against osteoporosis and may even cause it. However, foods with a high calcium content are very good for bone health. Make sure you have servings of milk, cheese, or yogurt every day. Other good choices: broccoli, avocadoes, apples, berries, and nuts.
  • Take vitamin D The Mayo Clinic recommends a dose of vitamin D no higher than 250 micrograms daily. According to the Institute of Medicine, there is reliable evidence to support the use of vitamin D for strong bones. Be sure to read the label on your multivitamins and take the amount of vitamin D into account when choosing a supplement. Also, your body makes its own vitamin D with some daily exposure to sunlight.
  • Do weight-bearing exercises Swimming doesn't count, but just about any other form of exercise – including regular walking – helps keep your bones from thinning with age. A dance class that includes jumping is excellent. Or if you were a Double Dutch champ back in the day, why not buy a jump rope have some fun while you're doing your bones a favor?
  • Tone like a ballerina Dancers don't slump and their shoulder blades don't protrude. That's because they have trained their dorsal muscles. Here's a simple way to get a Swan Queen's elegance from the rear view: Raise both arms over your head and let your upper arms touch your ears. Now, find the muscles in your back that pull your shoulders down and back so that your arms can no longer touch your ears. Hold to the count to 10. Release to the count of five. Repeat four times and build up to ten times for each daily session.
  • Do an upper backbend You don't have to do a full backbend. Simply easing your head back so you're bending above the waist will engage your muscles. Hold for the count of ten. Release to the count of five. Repeat four times and build up to ten times for each daily session.
  • Use a resistance band and an exercise ball Stretchy bands cost about $10 and come in varying strengths. They're a terrific exercise aid. Choose one with low resistance to start and gradually move up to those with more resistance. Most bands come with instruction booklets. If you do your resistance workout while sitting on an inflatable exercise ball, you'll get even more benefits. That's because the ball isn't stable and you're forced to hold your posture in place in order to keep your balance. The balls cost about $15. A bargain considering all you'll be doing to make your back the best it can be!

    Editor's note: This is the one of the series of articles and slideshows about anti-aging that we are bringing back because we know you can't be reminded too often about ways to keep looking and feeling younger!