Secrets for a Longer Life
Protect Your DNA
we age, the ends of our chromosomes -- called telomeres -- become
shorter. This makes people more vulnerable to disease. You might think
there's nothing you can do, but new research suggests otherwise. In a
pilot study, lifestyle changes boosted an enzyme that increases telomere
length. Other studies also find diet and exercise can protect
telomeres. So healthy habits may slow aging at the cellular level.
you're overweight, slimming down can protect against diabetes, heart
disease, and other life-shortening conditions. Belly fat appears to be
particularly harmful, so focus on deflating that spare tire. A 5-year
study of Hispanics and African-Americans suggests eating more fiber and
exercising regularly are effective ways to reduce belly fat.
80-year study found one of the best predictors of a long life is a
conscientious personality. Researchers measured attributes like
attention to detail and persistence. They found that conscientious
people do more things to protect their health and make choices that lead
to stronger relationships and better careers.
has given you one more reason to be grateful for your friends – they
might help you live longer. Australian researchers found elderly social
butterflies were less likely to die over a 10-year period compared to
people with the fewest friends. Another analysis of results from 148
studies supports the link between plentiful social connections and
Choose Your Friends Wisely
friends’ habits rub off on you, so look for companions with healthy
lifestyles. Studies indicate obesity is socially “contagious" – your
chance of becoming obese increases by 57% if you have a friend who
becomes obese. Smoking is another habit that spreads through social
ties, but the good news is that quitting is also contagious.
it's no secret that giving up cigarettes can lengthen your days -- the
amount of extra time may surprise you. According to a 50-year British
study, quitting at age 30 could increase your lifespan by an entire
decade. Kicking the habit at age 40, 50, or 60 boosts life expectancy by
9, 6, or 3 years, respectively.
Embrace the Siesta
siesta is standard in many parts of the world, and now there's
scientific evidence that napping may help you live longer. A recent
study with 24,000 participants suggests that regular nappers are 37%
less likely to die from heart disease than occasional nappers.
Researchers think naps might help your heart by keeping stress hormones
Follow a Mediterranean Diet
Mediterranean diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive
oil, and fish. An analysis of 50 studies involving more than half a
million people shows the impressive benefits of this diet. The findings
show it significantly lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome – a
combination of obesity, elevated blood sugar, increased blood pressure,
and other factors that raise your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Eat Like an Okinawan
people of Okinawa, Japan once had the longest life expectancy in the
world. Researchers attribute this to the region's traditional diet,
which is high in green and yellow vegetables and low in calories. Some
Okinawans make a habit of eating only 80% of the food on their plate. As
younger generations have veered from these traditions, life expectancy
in Okinawa has fallen.
studies show that married people tend to outlive their single
counterparts. Many researchers attribute the difference to the social
and economic support marriage provides. While a current marriage offers
the greatest benefit, people who are divorced or widowed have lower
mortality rates than those who have never been married.
evidence is overwhelming – people who exercise live longer on average
than those who don't. According to dozens of studies, regular physical
activity reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some forms
of cancer, and depression. Exercise may even help you stay mentally
sharp in your old age. Ten-minute spurts of activity are fine, as long
as they add up to about 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week.
Drink in Moderation
disease is less common in moderate drinkers than in people who don't
drink at all. But keep in mind that too much alcohol pads the belly,
boosts blood pressure, and can cause a host of other health problems.
The American Heart Association recommends that if you drink alcohol, the
limit should be one drink a day for women and one or two for men. But
if you don't drink, don't start. There are many other ways of protecting
suggests people who attend religious services tend to live longer than
people who never attend. In a 12-year study of people over age 65, those
who attended services more than once a week had higher levels of a key
immune system protein than their peers who attended no services. They
were also significantly less likely to die during the study period. The
strong social network that develops among people who worship together
may contribute to their overall health.
of grudges has surprising physical health benefits. Chronic anger is
linked to decreased lung function, heart disease, stroke, and other
ailments. Forgiveness will reduce anxiety, lower your blood pressure,
and help you to breathe more easily. These benefits tend to increase as
you get older.
Use Safety Gear
are the fifth most common cause of death in the U.S., and the top cause
of death for people ages 1 to 24. Wearing safety gear is a simple way
to boost your odds of a long life. In the event of a motor vehicle
crash, seatbelts reduce the risk of death or serious injury by 50%. In
bike accidents, most deaths are caused by head injuries, so always wear
Make Sleep a Priority
enough good quality sleep can lower the risk of obesity, diabetes,
heart disease, and mood disorders. Sufficient sleep will also help you
recover from illness faster. Burning the midnight oil, on the other
hand, carries serious health risks. Sleeping less than 5 hours per night
boosts the risk of premature death, so make sleep a priority.
Ornish, MD, has published research suggesting that lifestyle changes
including stress management not only help prevent heart disease, but may
actually reverse it. Although avoiding stress is not a viable option
for most people, there are effective ways to control it. Try yoga,
meditation, or deep breathing. Even a few minutes a day can make a
Maintain a Sense of Purpose
hobbies and activities that have meaning for you may contribute to a
long life. Japanese researchers found men with a strong sense of purpose
were less likely to die from stroke, heart disease, or other causes
over a 13-year period compared to those with a low sense of purpose.
Another study at Rush University Medical Center indicates that having a
greater sense of purpose is linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s