If someone handed you a recipe that you had to make every day, but would enable you to have some measure of control over the length of your life, would you grab it and hastily set forth in increasing your life span?
Unfortunately, with the new and exciting ways we have come up with to abuse our bodies in the last 50 years, we are moving further and further away from that youthful serum. Luckily, science has our backs. While one third of the factors that determine our longevity are genetic, the good news is that the other two thirds are completely within our control.
This means that the sooner we stop assuming that we are invincible, and start taking responsibility for our lifestyle choices, the better our chances that we will live long and healthy lives, free of disease and discomfort. While some factors have to do with our physical lifestyle choices, there are also several intellectual and emotional factors that we also need to work on.
Lifestyle of the Mind
There are five main emotional and intellectual factors that will directly influence how long we live. If you find that these factors are not a part of your daily life, you need to figure out a way to implement them into your daily life philosophy.
An important study by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester found some unbelievable results about how a person’s outlook on life affects their longevity. According to their findings, if you have a generally optimistic outlook on life, you will find that your risk of early death decreases by 50%.
The links between personality traits and longevity are still unclear, but one can assume that optimistic people have better coping mechanisms when it comes to adversity and stress. They are also less likely to have fast-flaring tempers. In a study by Johns Hopkins University in 2002, researchers found that men who have high level anger responses were over 6 times more likely to have a heart attack by the age of 55.
People who have a large group of friends, an active social life, and are meaningfully involved in a community and community activities are more likely to live longer. Solid social circles are important for many reasons. For one, they keep us moving and active. For another thing, while we cannot avoid all the stresses that life throws at us, if we have a solid group of friends to support us, tough times can be a lot easier. Even if you don’t have a lot of friends, studies have shown that people with pets live longer, and also recover from illness or surgery more successfully than those without.
Laughter reduces stress hormones, releases endorphins, and staves off that killer anger.
If you have a lot of stress in your life, you need to find a way to manage or eliminate it. If you are not ready to leave that high-stress job for something a little kinder on your heart, then you need to find a way to let go of the stress for a portion of every day. Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga and tai chi are all effective in developing a way to let go of the stress instead of holding it in your chest like a live grenade.
Challenge your brain
You don’t want to live forever in your physical body if your mind cashes out early. In order to stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s, challenge your mind with books, discussion, crosswords and other word puzzles.
Your Body is Your Temple
You body is the machine that is taking you through this life. If you had a fine, expensive automobile, imagine the care you would take in its upkeep? Now imagine your body as that car, only it isn’t expensive—it is literally priceless, and irreplaceable. Here are seven tips for proper maintenance, starting with the big three:
Diet and nutrition (what and how much you put into your body) are possibly the most important factors in longevity. Linked to this is obesity, which causes or exacerbates all of the leading causes of death, including heart disease (and diabetes leading to heart disease) and cancer.
Obesity is one of the single most dangerous lifestyle choices you can make. In order to lose weight, you need to eat less, and eat well. The most important nutritional choices in living longer are: consuming enough anti-oxydents (found in Vitamins C and E, beta-carotine, blueberries, artichokes, cloves and some beans), which destroy cell-damaging free radicals in your system, and getting enough omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish), which act as a lubricant for your circulatory system.
Your smartest diet plan is: if you trying to burn off weight, eat less calories than you burn; eat several small meals a day that include lots of fruit, veggies and whole grains; eat a balanced diet; and take a multivitamin daily.
After a proper diet, exercise is the best thing you can do for your longevity. You can do cardio, you can lift weights, you can do whatever you want. The more often you exercise, the stronger your heart, organs and bones will be and the longer you will live—up to 20% longer than your lazy counterparts, according to one 20-year Finnish study of twins with one lazy sibling. Exercise can help support a low calorie diet in order to fight obesity, but it cannot work alone without a change in your eating habits.
Middle aged men who are heavy smokers have a higher risk of heart disease and many types of cancer, including twice the risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. On the other hand, studies have shown that men who quit smoking before they reach age 35 are likely to live just as long as men who never smoked. If you keep smoking, it shaves an average of 9 years off your life.
Go for checkups
Get your cholesterol checked (preferably using the most thorough test: VAP), get your blood pressure checked, and get your prostate checked.
Get enough sleep—but not too much
Studies have shown that people who get less than 4 hours of sleep per night are not getting enough to rejuvenate their cells and relax their minds. On the other hand, a 2002 study showed that people who get more than 8 hours per night have a higher death rate than those who get between 6 and 7 hours per night. This is accepted optimum.
Brush and floss daily
Tooth decay and the bacteria that festers in your gums and oral cavities have been linked to heart disease and cancer. Brush your teeth every day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and either floss once a day or rinse with anti-bacterial mouthwash twice a day to reduce tooth decay.
And finally, the advice you’ve all been waiting for:
Have sex often
Studies have shown that people who have sex three times a week (as opposed to just once) live about a year and a half longer, and those who have it every day can live up to eight years longer. While any activity that leads to orgasm is good for your heart, lungs, mind and prostate, sex with an intimate partner is shown to have the most physical and emotional benefits. Who knew: you really can die if you don’t get it!
The exciting part of all of this is that many factors that lead to you living a longer life are within your grasp. All you have to do is choose to live and make the adjustments. Luckily, the vast majority of them are easy, and actually rather enjoyable. It will take some diligence to quit smoking (it can be so difficult, but there is a lot of support out there right now), incorporate the healthy diet and exercise (these are always the hardest!), but they are really your best chance of taking control of your life and being around for everything you look forward to in the future!