”You don’t have to hit them all, but when it comes to health, the little things add up.” Mandy Oaklander
I came across this wonderful article in a special edition of TIME called “The Science of Living Longer.” If you are interested, you can find it on Amazon. The article is about surprising ways to live longer and this blog is a shortened review of that (the actual article lists 23 ways to live longer.) Our life expectancy has improved a lot over the last several decades and with the advancements in science and a little self care, it can continue to improve.
- Steam in the sauna – I wouldn’t have thought of this one but evidently, sitting in basically a hot closet does more than help you relax. Some studies show that sitting in a sauna regularly reduces the risk of heart failure and coronary artery disease.It seems that sweating and heat get your heart rate up like light exercise.
- Meditate – Ok, so you had to know this would be on the list! Just closing your eyes and clearing your mind for a few minutes can lengthen your life. “And that just might happen by lengthening the telomeres, the protective caps on the end of chromosomes that have been linked to longevity.”
- Don’t get “steaming mad” – It is important to deal with anger appropriately, but if frequent outbursts are an issue for you, it is not good for your heart.
- Call a friend – “Having a vibrant social life is as healthy for you as quitting smoking, a review of 148 studies found. Not being socially connected was a stronger risk factor for death than not exercising and obesity.” A strong social network supports mental health and improves immune function. This is especially true for seniors.
- Hug more often – Science shows that hugs boost your immunity. Just one hug per day will do it – although more is even better!
- Drink coffee – Coffee is a major source of antioxidants. Coffee may help prevent some types of cancers, type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Even with the controversy about caffeine, science indicates that coffee is good for you as long as you don’t overindulge – don’t go over 4 cups/day.
- Drink tea – Tea is also a powerful source of antioxidants and can also protect the heart. Green tea can reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke as well as lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Eat nuts – Nuts have lots of protein, vitamins and good fats and might help you live longer. One example is walnuts and they may even help you relax.
- Eat more vegetables and fruit – Of course! Seven servings of vegetables and fruits per day is recommended. I have some work to do on this one!
- Don’t stop learning – Challenging your brain to learn new things helps to keep your brain healthy and may help you live longer.
- Stop smoking – Of course!
- Exercise – You may not have to exercise as long as you think. “An analysis of 250,000 older adults found that getting less than an hour of moderate physical exercise per week was associated with a 15% lower risk of death. Weight bearing exercise also helps strengthen your bones.
- Adopt a pet – Pets make us feel loved which also helps with loneliness.
- Stand up – Take more walks – even short ones. My Fitbit lets me know I need to walk at least 250 steps per hour – even if that means walking in circles in my apartment!
A lot of these may seem obvious but how many are you doing? I know I have some work to do! If you want to extend your life, try doing one or two more than you are already doing.