Choosing the way you live affects how long you live – and there are surprising ways to live for longer
Thirteen ingenious ways to extend your lifespan, which could be as easy as eating an apple a day.
Have a purpose in life
The Japanese philosophy of ikigai roughly translates as ‘the reason you get up in the morning’ and could add seven good years to your life, says longevity expert Dan Buettner. He adds, “Science has linked having a purposeful life with longer life expectancy, better sleep and lower rates of chronic illness. One of the most dangerous years of your life is the year you retire because you experience a sudden lack of purpose.”
Have regular hot baths
As well as helping to relax muscles, a Japanese study by Ehime University in Matsuyama found that regular hot baths are linked to better heart and circulatory health. Those who took at least five a week had lower markers of atherosclerosis (a disease where plaque builds up in arteries).
Eat like an Italian
The Mediterranean diet is great for heart health, reduces the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer, and is ideal for sustainable fat burning and lean muscle gain, say scientists at Sheffield Hallam University. This diet always wins praise from nutritionists.
Stay close to family and friends
In Okinawa, a Japanese island known as ‘land of the immortals’ due to the number of centenarians, residents set up friendship groups known as ‘moai’. “The term means ‘meeting for a common purpose’ and originated as a way for villagers to support each other in times of need,” says Buettner. Studies consistently show that social isolation is associated with several chronic health conditions.
Get outside every day
Even with the increased risk of skin cancer, those who enjoy the sun are less likely to die young than shade-seekers, say Swedish researchers who monitored 30,000 women over two decades. Good levels of vitamin D — triggered by sunshine —protect against diabetes, osteoporosis and other conditions.
A fast walking pace is linked with a longer life regardless of a person’s weight. Professor Tom Yates of University of Leicester, lead author of a study on the subject, said, “Perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than body mass index (BMI), and that encouraging the population to engage in brisk walking may add years to their lives.”
Make any journey that’s less than a mile on foot
Lack of exercise kills twice many people as obesity, a Cambridge University study of 3,30,000 people found. Adding 30 minutes of walking into your daily routine five days a week can add threeand-a-half years to your lifespan.
Put full-fat milk on cereal
Researchers from Canada’s McMaster University looked at the diets of 130,000 adults over nine years and found those who consumed an average of 3.2 servings of full-fat dairy a day had the lowest rates of mortality cardiovascular disease and stroke. A glass of full-fat milk, a teaspoon of butter or 15g of cheese equals one serving.
Eat an apple a day…
…and some broccoli, a handful of blueberries, an orange and drink a cup of tea. This combination provides a good range of flavonoids, which are naturally-occurring health-protecting compounds, say Australian researchers.
Positive people are more likely to live long, found a study analysing 70,000 women in a nurses’ health study and 1,500 men in a veterans’ health study. On average, the most optimistic men and women had an 11 to 15 per cent longer lifespan and were more likely to live to at least 85, compared with the least optimistic group. The theory is that optimists suffer less stress.
Book a break
Taking regular holidays from work could prolong life, according to a 40-year study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. Professor Timo Strandberg, the study’s lead author at the University of Helsinki, said, “Don’t think having an otherwise healthy lifestyle will compensate for working too hard and not taking holidays. Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress.”
Add fruit to breakfast and vegetables to meals
Those eating eight portions have around a lower chance of dying of heart disease than those who eat only three found a report published in the European Heart Journal.
Relax in green space
Studies show that folks living in or near green areas have improved mental health and lower death rates, while a Tokyo study of seniors found that urban green spaces and lower environmental noise levels were associated with a longer life