I know you come here for fitness advice, for ways to live healthier and leaner, but isn’t living longer a goal for everyone, too? I’ve gathered up some studies and blog posts to offer tips on how to live longer while also living well. Some ideas are very intriguing, some are easily doable, and others will take some commitment. Sample the list and see if there’s something you’d like to try.
Live within a half mile of green space. A Dutch study found that living that close to green space decreases the risk of developing 15 different medical conditions including chronic back pain, asthma, anxiety disorder, heart disease, and diabetes. Nature is both soothing to the spirit and energizing to the body. If being near a green space is impossible, consider adding a few healthy, vigorous plants in your home.
Do yoga. An Ohio State University study reports that yoga decreases inflammation in the body which can lead to aging. Not only does yoga increase flexibility and a sense of wellness, it may actually help you live longer.
Exercise throughout your life. I reported on this recently. A Swedish study found that those who exercise throughout their lives lived longer and were more robust in their senior years. Even people who didn’t start a regular exercise program until their 40s, 50s, and even 60s benefited once they began.
Restrict calorie intake by 25% from your USRDA. If your US Recommended Daily Allowance is 2,000 calories (the average male) then this means cutting back to 1,500 per day. For the rest of your now longer life. Natural Health interviewed Eric Ravussin, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at Louisiana State University, who said, “There is no question that calorie-restriction dieting increases the life span of any species.” Pretty powerful words. To get some ideas of how to do this, check out the CALERIE study going on at Duke.
Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. These food groups are high in nutrient density, low in calories, and high in anti-inflammatories. Swelling in the body has been linked to a whole host of medical issues and eating lots of fruits and veggies will ensure you’re keeping inflammation at bay. When you’re choosing what to eat, start with the fruits and vegetables and build the rest of your meal from there. Consider becoming a flexitarian or maybe even a vegetarian or vegan.
Eat chocolate. Chocolate contains something called “the bliss molecule” or anandamide, which boosts people’s sense of well-being. Feeling good about yourself is one of the key ingredients to living a happy, healthy life. Try two ounces of dark chocolate a day that contains at least 60 percent cocoa.
Create a large network of people. A strong sense of community has been linked to longevity. It appears the more people we feel connected to, the longer we live. This can certainly mean relatives, but particularly as we get older, we might find our social circles shifting to ones that we create from friendships and organizations we join. The point is get out there, talk to people, find friends, and live longer.
Meditation helps with stress. Decreased stress helps with several medical problems from stroke and heart disease to mental health issues. Daily meditation will keep you calm, centered, and able to handle all that life throws at you. A regular meditation practice also helps to stimulate the creation of HGH (human growth hormone), one of the body’s key ingredients for longevity. Not only will you live longer, you’ll also have a higher quality of life.
Sleep the right amount for you. A good night’s sleep helps keep weight in check, inflammation low, reflexes sharp, and your mind alert, all contributing factors to longevity. Most adults need between seven and nine hours a night, but you’ll know if you’re not getting enough sleep because you’ll wake up tired. To truly try to aim for that “refreshed” wake up every morning eliminate or limit caffeine and alcohol in the evenings, get enough exercise, and turn off electronics at least a few minutes before retiring. This is probably one of the most important items on this list.
Go on vacation. Believe it or not, vacations help keep your weight in check! They also reduce cortisol levels, decrease blood pressure, and help cancer patients recover faster. The venerable Framingham Heart Study has weighed in on this. Vacations should be mandatory, so unplug, relax, unwind.
What do you think? Is there one or two (or three?) on the list that you’d like to try? It’s not rocket science, pretty much basic principles we all know about, but have you thought of them strung together as a means to living longer?
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If you’d like to live to be 100, check out this story!