8 Surprising Ways to Live a Longer (and Better) Life
Maybe you don’t care to live to be 123-years-old like this Bolivian man, documented as the oldest person ever to walk the green Earth. But perhaps you are interested in expanding both the quality and quantity of your years, living a fuller, happier life for longer. The ways to go about this may surprise you.
Here are 8 ways to live longer and feel better while doing it:
1. Find a Lasting Love
A study by Harvard Medical School found that communities with a much higher percentage of either males or females caused the minority sex to have shorter lifespans. Sure, it’s O.K. to be single (for a certain amount of time), but not too long. Another study found that never getting married could increase risk of death over a lifetime by 32 percent. Want to live longer? You’ve got to find love!
2. Shorten Your Commute
Commutes of about an hour increase stress levels and have been linked to the same negative effects as sitting too long (yes, that can shorten your life span, read on to see why). Researchers at Sweden’s Umeå University found that women were especially negatively affected by commutes of 31 miles or longer. If you’ve thought about working from home, now is the time to make the change. Driving too much is taking years off your life.
3. Sleep Enough, but Not too Much
Life expectancy significantly decreases in subjects who average less than five or more than nine hours of sleep per night. In fact, the cost of too many sleepless nights is more than you can afford to pay. The price is years off your lifespan; a single night of lost sleep can age your brain significantly. Here are 8 foods that increase natural melatonin creation, the hormone that supports sound sleep.
4. Skip the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet
Most individuals are already aware that Americans generally eat too much, which can lead to diseases that can shorten your life. According to the National Institute on Aging, the very process of extracting energy from food—metabolizing food—creates stress on your body. Overeating creates even more stress on the body. While you don’t have to drastically restrict your caloric intake, try to eat more healthful, and smaller portions.
5. Turn off the Tube
Another Harvard study says that watching just two hours of television a day can lead to an increased risk of premature death, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Yikes! Since much of modern television programming causes stress already with sensationalized (and constant) bad news, consider spending time doing something away from the TV. Call a friend and go on a walk – exercise is an obvious prerequisite for living longer, too.
6. Hang out with People You Like More, and Less with People You Don’t
Some of the oldest people on Earth, in places like China and Tibet, are highly socialized even into their senior years, but even who we spend time with is just as important. According to researchers at Tel Aviv University, “Peer social support, which could represent how well a participant is socially integrated in his or her employment context, is a potent predictor of the risk of all causes of mortality.”
This means if you are constantly annoyed by people at your work, in your family, or among your friends even, it may be time to find new friends. What’s more, a study conducted among older Australians found that the more nurturing friendships one has, the longer you are likely to live. Your social network is aevidently paramount to your longevity, just as much as eating right and exercise.
7. Stop Sitting so Much
Sitting for more than three hours a day at a time can take two years off your life. While this can be difficult to work around if you are living at a desk job, there are ways to cut down on the sitting. Take breaks, don’t eat at your desk, and stand or stretch as often as possible throughout your workday. If your boss asks what you are doing, tell them it is part of your longevity plan.
8. Be Intimate
Findings from the Caerphilly cohort study showed that mortality risk was 50% lower in a group with higher rates of pleasure between partners than in a group experiencing less pleasure, with evidence of a dose-response relation across the groups. This is kind of a no-brainer since pleasure leads to stress release. There is also research which supports the idea that sex promotes better sleep, increases the flow of feel-good endorphins, and that making love just 3 times a week is the equivalent of burning an extra 7,500 calories in a year. You’d have to jog 75 miles to do that!
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.