In life, the more prepared you are to take on the foibles and challenges that can occur, the higher your survival rate and therefore, the greater your success in meeting and conquering the next hurdle. To help you live a more healthy, productive and ultimately live longer, we present a few clever ways to beat the grave.
1. LIVE LIKE MIGUEL SOLIS
A look back in the history books and Miguel Solis pops up as a “long lifer”, who confessed to his neighbours in the then small town of Bogota that he was 180 years old at the time of his admission. The story has since been testified several times over by a gentleman of the same village Solis lived. The eye witness is himself a centenarian who attributes his long life to careful habits: eating only once a day, for half an hour, because he believed that more food could not be readily digested. He also fasted on the first and 15th of every month, drinking as much water as possible on those days. He only ate the most nourishing foods and took all things cold.
Flossing your teeth helps get rid of the bacteria-laden plaque that causes gum disease and a host of other problems that affect the rest of the body, including heart disease and even strokes.
3. SPICE UP YOUR COOKING
Adding flavour to your meals with fresh herbs and spices rather than the old standbys – salt, butter and sugar – will cut sodium, fat and calories, and improve overall health benefits without cutting flavour. Seasonings, such as saffron, are believed to contain cancer fighters, and “warming” or spicy herbs such as black pepper may also help lower blood pressure.
4. GO NUTS
Almonds have a range of health benefits like the presence of a certain form of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant. This vitamin neutralises free radicals which, left unchecked, can result in disease and illness. Just over 20 grams of almonds provides 35 percent of the daily value for vitamin E. The little nut can also help you lose weight because it contains fibre and protein. Most importantly, almonds are very beneficial for heart health. They contain low levels of essential saturated fat and with no cholesterol, almonds won’t impact on your body’s natural levels of cholesterol. If you’re looking for a super healthy snack, try munching away on almonds… Go nuts! Never mind the cyanide content.
5. COOK SLOWER
Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital suggest that foods cooked at high temperatures produce blood compounds called advanced glycation end products, which reduce cell elasticity and increase heart disease risk. Instead of blasting your food in an inferno, cook foods longer at lower temperatures.
6. CHEW YOUR FOOD
Taking a little bit of time to properly chew your food makes it easier for your body to extract and absorb nutrients. This also increases production of saliva, which helps neutralise the stomach acids that cause reflux.
7. BE OPTIMISTIC
Not to alarm you in any way, but pessimism can kill you. Therefore, being pessimistic has a detrimental effect on you, the opposite must have the corresponding effect. The Mayo Clinic study certainly agrees, by showing that the surveyed respondents who are more positive than their negative counterparts are 50 percent less likely to have untimely deaths. It appeared that those with a positive outlook on life are probably less stressed, better equipped to deal with adversity and consequently, healthier. Optimists also confessed to having lower blood pressure than pessimists which, again, is most likely related to how positive-minded people respond to stress.
8. GET A WIFE
The reason married men live longer is because their wives nag them to have regular medical checks. Also, both men and women in committed relationships are more likely to do regular exercise, adding years to their life. Scientific studies propose the benefits of marriage like the fact that married men are 6 percent more likely to go to the doctor than single men who had no one to tell them to. The fact of the matter is that “persistent” wives encourage — pause for dramatic effect — their husbands to visit the family GP. Further evidence has shown that women were 34 percent more likely to keep fit through regular exercise while in a relationship, and men were 20 percent more likely to go out for a run once a week if they were married.
On the flip side, women were just as likely to go to the doctor if they were single or married. One German study showed numerous benefits of being in a long-term relationship. One of those benefits includes a female partner’s likelihood of visiting a health professional if the spouse was already making regular visits. It seems that couples in relationships want to be with each other longer, which is nice, so if you’re not being reminded to pop along to the family GP occasionally…
9. PETS RULE
One of the first studies dealing with the health benefits of having a pet led researcher, Eric Friedman, to admit that people who own them, especially dogs, are less stressed and don’t need to go to the doctor as much as non-pet owners. What’s more of an impact from the results was the survival rate of heart attack victims who had a pet. These survivors lived 12 percent longer than individuals who didn’t own an animal, plus more of the “no pet types” suffered higher blood pressure. Aside from these results, pet owners were less lonely and suffered little or no depression, as well as being more inclined to exercise often. Surprisingly, they all laughed more as well. Seriously, for whatever ails you have and to help you achieve a meaningful and long life, you might want to consider having an animal around the home.
10. WIN AN OSCAR
It seems that Oscar success can be both financially beneficial as well as a good tonic for a long life. Jessica Tandy at age 80 was the oldest person to be nominated and win an Academy Award. Luise Rainer turned 100 a couple of years ago and was the first actor to win two Academy Awards. Clint Eastwood is now in his 90s, while Martin Scorsese all hovers in the 70s. So what is it that keeps these theatrical evergreens vital? “Respecting your efforts, respecting yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.” I couldn’t have put it better myself, Clint.
11. GET ON WITH MUM
High five if you already get on with your mother but, as unthinkable as it might seem to some, 91 percent of participants in a Harvard Medical Study did not. The unfortunate result was a barrage of serious diseases for the group, including high blood pressure, alcoholism and heart disease. That doesn’t take into account the psychological effect of not getting on with mum, which really doesn’t bear considering. So get healthy by getting on with your mother.
12. MOVE TO NORWAY
I think we’ve all at some point looked out of the window on a stressful day at work and dreamed of packing it all up and jumping on a plane to some obscure, off the grid Scandanavian village. Oh, not everyone, just me? OK well if you’re trying to live longer, maybe it’s time to give it some thought. The Scandanavian nations consistently rank at the top of the World Health Organisation’s Human Development Index, a comprehensive metric which considers national education levels, life expentancy and per capita income. Norway is the undisputed king of the index and has topped every study dating back to the year 2000. The northern paradise has long been hailed for its high literacy rates, low crime rates and excellent welfare system. Also, you get the Northern Lights! Now that’s a view worth living a few extra years for.But if freezing nights by the fire don’t really float your boat, consider looking slightly west at Ireland. See, the Irish have it pretty good and I don’t think we can call it luck anymore. The island nation has seen a rapid rise through the HDI rankings in the past two decades and currently sits right behind Norway in the second spot. Much of Ireland’s success in the metric has been attributed to its significant improvements in education. Is it fair to presume smarter people live longer? We say yes, so Ireland might be the place best equipped to help you avoid the final whistle. Just maybe stick to a two pints a day limit, OK?
More often than not, meditation is considered to exist only in the realm of spiritual practice. In fact, it has become more recognised as an important part of that concept we often muse about achieving called balance. In that, we can identify with some of the more practical benefits of meditation like a deeper level of relaxation thereby reducing anxiety, which lowers the blood lactate levels. But there are other medical benefits of meditation like an increase in serotonin production, which influences mood and behaviour. If the levels of serotonin drop too low, we become depressed and start to show signs of obesity, insomnia and headaches. Whichever way you perceive it, there’s nothing more “healing” for the mind and body than the calm, collected concentration of “self within self” to build chill credits.
14. EAT LITTLE
It’s a given you need food to live but for centuries, studies have conclusively shown that eating fewer calories – without compromising essential nutrients – will keep you above ground for longer. The breakthrough study came with Rhesus monkeys who, like most primates, have similarities to humans. They were found to be more vivacious, have more skin elasticity and an excellent blood count for lipids and sugars when provided a restricted calorie diet compared with their gorging cousins. Also significant in the study was the revelation that the smaller diet primates were afflicted by cancer, cardiovascular disease and atrophy of the brain’s grey matter much later in life. The recommended reduction of calorie intake is around 30 percent and even the experts admit it’s not going to happen overnight. But if you do want to swing in the trees and have boundless energy way into your later years, don’t monkey around, and start cutting back the calories.
15. EAT SLOWER
Sure, there are a million things we need to get through every day but take some time out for eating – your body will thank you for it. When we eat, it can take a bit of a while for our brains to register the sensation of being full, so eating at a slow and steady pace helps to make sure you’re not overdoing it.
16. DO DEGREES
According to the Whitehall Study carried out in the early 1960s, the higher up the pecking order you were, the better your health and the longer you “hung around.” As an extension to this, people with PhDs live longer than those with Masters degrees. Those with a masters live longer than those with a degree, while those with a degree live longer than those who left school early. Live long brainiacs.
17. TAKE COLD SHOWERS
If you’re a product of a private school education, you may have been part of the era that promoted early morning jogs around the block, followed by cold showers. The cold showering part mostly came from a tradition of bullying seniors over the junior “terds.” There is, however, some anecdotal evidence which shows that a cold shower every day helps to ward off colds by strengthening the mucous membranes, which helps to reduce fever, allergies and colds. The other physiological benefits include increasing circulation throughout the body, cleaning the circulatory system, reducing blood pressure on internal organs and contracting the muscles to eliminate toxins. It may be a shock to the system first thing in the morning, but you’ll definitely take on the day with more vigour and vitality, even if you may look a little blue.
18. TURN OFF THE TELE WHEN EATING
It’s old news that watching television during dinner can lead to mindless eating and subsequent weight gain, but a 2010 study by the American Dietetic Association shows that families who watch TV at dinner time eat less fruits and veggies during the meal.
19. SLEEP LESS
There has been so much conjecture about the optimum amount of sleep required for a quality existence. Knowledgeable types have pontificated sleep duration speculation for years but it wasn’t until a handful of specialists produced results from over one million men and women volunteers – aged between 30 years and 102 – that the issue was well and truly put to bed. The study found that the best “survival” was among those who slept seven hours per night. The eight-hour-a-nighters significantly increased “mortality hazard” as did those who slept six hours or less. The increased risk exceeded 15 percent for both these groups. Two interesting points were noted from the study. One point reported that “insomnia” did not increase mortality and the other point concerned sleeping pills. This prescribed medication significantly increased mortality in some cases. So the magic number is seven and not eight sleep hours a night as we’ve often been told, but don’t panic if you’re not quite hitting that number because it’s really not worth losing sleep over just yet.
20. EAT SARDINES
This little fish is an excellent source of nutrients. A powerhouse for cardiovascular health, sardines are an excellent source of vitamin B12 – second only to calf’s liver – and they’re also a very rich source of the bone-building calcium and vitamin D. Don’t overlook the high levels of selenium in these aquatic health machines. This mineral provides powerful antioxidant activity for your nutrient-focused long-living temple called “your body.”
21. LEARN TO COOK
Purely from a health perspective, knowing what’s going into your meals is absolutely a lifelong advantage. As you become more proficient in knowing how and what to cook, start to understand what food types are better for your body. This will also help you prepare recipes that will best fuel your body when you need it the most. Learning to cook will help you prepare meals faster and with less effort; you’ll be able to cook complicated meals that will impress people; and you’ll know to adapt recipes to your particular penchant. Apparently, women are impressed by men who can cook but there’s no evidence to support that, so let’s just scratch that off “longevity” list.
22. GET LAUGHING
A good laugh is like doing a workout. If you can manage it in one continuous session, 100 to 200 laughs – according to US cardiologist Dr William Fry – is equivalent to 10 minutes’ jogging or rowing. Research shows that it lowers levels of stress hormones and heightens the activity of the body’s natural defensive killer cells and antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. Laughter also has evidence of improving the function of blood vessels and increasing blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. Leading psychotherapist Enda Junkins supports the theory that laughter is “the human gift for coping and for survival.” From snickering and snorting, to roaring and piercing, laughter and its related physiological benefits helps us to see things in a better shade of “positive,” increasing our ability to become more creatively perceptive. Do you recall that staff or group meeting where everyone was laughing and joking around? The ideas that came from all that joviality was far less stressful and a lot more creative than a quiet, stodgy traditional brainstorm meeting. Sure, there’s a time and place for each method, but you can’t deny the fun factor far outweighs and outperforms the meeting of a little frivolity.
23. HAVE HEALTHY SEX
I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes: doing the horizontal tango does boost your immune system and maintains a healthy weight. It also relieves stress by lowering blood pressure, even more than if you abstained from it. If you can organise to have sex twice a week, you will increase levels of an antibody called IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections. Do I need to add that you will burn calories? Thirty minutes or more of passion burns over 85 calories, which may not sound like much but if you can manage 42 half-hour sessions, that’s a creditable 3,000 calories. It’s also great for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, improving cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of prostate cancer later in life, according to the British Journal of Urology International, and boosting self-esteem. Fortunately, these benefits aren’t just anecdotal or hearsay and can add years – and an annoying smirk – to your fulfilled life.
24. RELIEVE YOURSELF – SERIOUSLY
When you have to go, damn it, just go. Don’t hold it in. Even if you feel too busy to take a two-minute loo break, don’t put it off. Stagnant urine in your bladder can lead to urinary tract infections or even kidney damage. Going to the toilet is your body’s way of expelling toxins and poisons — let it do its job. Researchers at Taiwan University in China have also found that the stress of having a full bladder increases heart rate by an average of nine beats per minute and constricts the flow of blood by 19 percent. Either could be enough to trigger a heart attack, says study author, Tsai Chang-Her, M.D.
25. DRINK TEA
The two main types to drink are green and black. Both are from the same tree with the green variety being less processed. Green tea has the higher levels of health benefits, including reducing the chances of heart attacks and cancer, increasing energy and metabolic rate – good for weight loss – and high antioxidant content. Another bonus is that green tea contains caffeine, which makes it an ideal option if the boss cuts back on your coffee supplies.
26. RELEASE THE FURY
A recent Harvard study found that men who express their anger have half the risk of heart disease compared with men who bottle it up. A word of warning with this though: it might be better to let out your anger on a punching bag rather than on other people.
27. WITH ACID
Yuzurihara is a quaint Japanese village whose small population boasts the oldest average age of anywhere in the world. The secret is their homegrown sticky starches like potatoes and root vegetables with very little meat. The resulting concentration of hyaluronic acid (Ha) from these food groups helps to retain moisture, lubricates the joints, and smoothes and elasticates the skin. The good news is that we’re all born with Ha, which is a great start and goes a long way to longevity.
28. STAY FAITHFUL
According to evidence from London’s St. Thomas’ Hospital, casual extramarital sex can increase your risk of a fatal heal attack. Doctors found that 75 percent of cases of sudden death during sex involved a cheating spouse. The risk increased even more with men who hooked up with much younger women.
29. GO EASY WITH BLOWING YOUR NOSE
Instead of giving your nose a big hearty blow when it’s jammed with mucus, take a decongestant or gently blow each nostril individually. Blowing too hard can actually push mucus up into your sinuses, which increases your risk of sickness.
30. DRINK RED WINE
A compound found in red wine called procyanidin is great for your blood vessels. You only have to ask people from the southwest of France and Sardinia who have significantly longer life spans than any other European country. It has to be noted that the levels of procyanidins is not the same in all wines, but where the compound is at its highest levels, so are the number of candles on a birthday cake.
The endothelial cells that line our blood vessels activate the beneficial compounds, which are extracted after using the traditional fermentation period of the wine, and lasts three to four weeks, rather than the current one week period without a drop of vino.
Researchers also found that the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Nebbiolo grapes made the wines with the highest levels of procyanidins. If you don’t drink alcohol, then keep it up. But if you are partial to a wee “spot” at “wine o’clock,” then know you are taking care of yourself.
31. CLOSE THE CAR WINDOWS
According to Harvard research, exposure to airborne pollution decreases heart strength and increases the risk of heart attack. The researchers monitored the strength of 40 middle-aged men’s hearts and then tracked the men’s exposure to airborne pollution. “The more particles the men inhaled, the harder it was for their hearts to adjust to different types of activity,” says David C. Christiani, M.D., the study author.
As well as doing wonders for your relationship, kissing can actually help you fight off colds and flu. By exchanging bacteria back and forth, you are actually enhancing your body’s natural defenses and boosting your immune system. If you are in a relationship, try and limit this to just your partner. Otherwise, any potential health benefits might be swiftly offset by a golf club around the head.
33. STAND UP
It’s no secret that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity but researchers have found that simply standing up more can improve your health and even double the speed of your metabolism.
34. GIVE YOURSELF CPR
For heaven’s sake, this is not to be taken as medical advice. Your first line of action should always be to consult a health professional. But if you ever have a heart attack, there is a good chance you will be alone when it happens and let’s face it, not many of us – sadly – carry a defibrillator, although personal defibrillators are available to purchase and have been used successfully to revive people. But if your old ticker starts playing up, you may only have a few seconds to act before you lose consciousness. Take a deep breath and force yourself to cough. It should be intense and prolonged. Keep doing this over and over again, about every two seconds until the “zambuks” arrive. You did remember to call the paramedics, didn’t you? The deep breaths help by moving oxygen into the lungs and the coughing helps by squeezing the heart to keep the blood flowing. Remember, this is no substitute for a visit to your doctor if you’re not feeling well.
35. JUST BREATHE
A condition called sleep apnoea is a common disorder, which pauses or stops your breathing while you sleep. The pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes! Normal respiration is usually restored with a loud, sharp choking sound, which is the brain telling your body that you haven’t taken a breath for a while, so “something needs to happen.” The resulting “snort” is enough to wake most sleep sufferers from their slumber. What’s more disturbing, however, is that the pauses can happen between five and 50 times an hour, which results in extremely poor quality sleep. That alone can be life-threatening because it can cause unsuspecting “apneants” to nod off during the day and, depending on what you’re doing at the time, it could be potentially harmful to you or someone else. Fortunately, the treatment is relatively straightforward. First and foremost, go and talk to your doctor. If they send you to a sleep specialist, then go. You will also need to make lifestyle changes, like avoiding grog and sleeping pills. Lose weight! Even a small amount can make the world of difference. Learn to sleep on your side and not your back and, if necessary, keep your nasal passages open and clear at night by taking a nasal spray or allergy medicines. Another important lifestyle change is to stop smoking. This will dramatically change your sleeping patterns. It’s going to improve health as well. Sleep tight!
36. GET HANDS FREE
In relation to our population, road accidents here, compared with the rest of the world, are significant. Distraction has been identified as a leading contributor to fatal car crashes and cell phone use was found to increase the risk of crashing fourfold. It’s not rocket science, is it?
37. USE HONEY INSTEAD OF SUGAR
If you have a sweet tooth, try getting your fix with honey instead of sugar. Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that honey has powerful antioxidant qualities that help combat cardiovascular disease as opposed to sugar, which can lower your levels of HDL cholesterol, potentially increasing your risk of heart-related disorders.
38. WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE GOING TO THE BATHROOM
While it might be important to wash your hands after going to the bathroom, think about all of the things you’ve been touching throughout the day — your keyboard, door handles, the shopping trolley and so on. To avoid passing on any of those nasty germs to your privates, make it a habit to actually wash your hands before going to the bathroom, too.
39. EAT PORRIDGE
It might not be the prettiest breakfast but porridge really is a superfood. Oats are complex carbs, so they digest slowly and keep blood sugar steady, which fends off hunger and may help control Type II diabetes. Oatmeal also acts like a sponge during digestion by soaking up excess cholesterol for faster excretion, which can lower the risk of heart disease. In a recent study, participants who had oatmeal for breakfast ate 30 percent fewer calories at lunch compared with those who had cereal.
40. EAT YOUR GREENS
British Researchers who assessed health habits and tracked deaths in 20,000 men and women over five years found that those who exercised, did not smoke, ate at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily, and drank moderately, lived on average 14 years longer than those who had none of these health habits. Eating more fruit and vegetables is second to quitting smoking in the life-extending stakes. One benefit of fruits and vegetables is that they contain a lot of fibre, so they fill you up with fewer calories than most other foods. Therefore those who eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day are less likely to become overweight and die early from a heart attack, a stroke or diabetes. Fruit and vegetables are also packed with antioxidants, which neutralise the free radicals that damage cellular DNA, a core piece of the ageing process.
41. TAKE CARE OF YOUR SICK SPOUSE
A new study reveals that elderly people who look after a disabled or dying spouse live longer than those who do not have such responsibilities.
The research conducted by the University of Michigan medical school focused on 1,688 couples and measured how much time was devoted to caregiving duties, such as feeding, dressing, bathing, preparing meals, managing money and taking medications.
“People who were providing 14 hours or more of care per week to their spouse reduced their own risk of dying by half over the 17-year period of the study compared with individuals who provided little or no care,” said lead researcher, Stephanie Brown. “It looks like the more they do [to help their spouse], the better their health is in the long run.”
While these findings seem to contradict conventional wisdom that caregiving can be extremely stressful, Dr. Brown actually suggests that this type of work can give people a sense of purpose and meaning that may help offset some of the potentially harmful effects of stress.
42. EAT CALCIUM
Increasing your calcium intake as part of a healthy diet could help you to live a good deal longer. In fact, one study showed that calcium consumers out-lived their deficient “study buddies.” The top calcium consumers had a 25 percent lower risk of dying from any cause and a 23 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease during follow-up, compare with men who had the least amount of calcium in their diet. The main sources of calcium are milk, its products and cereal, but you can also derive quantities of the substance from a good selection of foods including salmon, spinach, baked beans, broccoli, almonds and bok choy. You already know calcium is essential for building strong bones and teeth but it’s also effective with maintaining a normal heartbeat and regulating blood pressure.
43. CONSUME HOT DRINKS
Viruses take about three days to incubate in your body before symptoms start to appear. Drinking hot liquids including coffee, tea or just plain old hot water will help wash the viruses out of your mouth and down into your stomach where it can’t grow due to the acids.
44. WHIP OUT THE TOMATOES
Lycopene in tomatoes prevents the harmful build-up of cholesterol on artery walls, so go liberal with the tomato sauce.
45. ORDER TAKEAWAYS
Sure, you might not see a long line of gym buffs lined up at the local takeaway shop, but according to Andrew Weil, M.D., author of Eating Well for Optimum Health, lots of Chinese and Indian foods contain spices packed with natural anti-inflammatories. And anything that helps keep levels of inflammation low is good for your heart.
46. USE SUNSCREEN LOTS OF IT
This one not rocket science really but still too many of us are dying from skin cancer. While you want to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (which blocks both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF15 or higher, it’s how much of the stuff you put on that actually makes the difference. If you’re spending a full day out in the sun, aim to go through a whole 150ml tube.
47. CONSUME APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
The Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, used it around 400 BC for its health-giving qualities. Apple cider vinegar is made from fresh, ripe apples that ferment and undergo a process to create the final product. Vinegar contains a raft of vitamins, beta-carotene, pectin and vital minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, chlorine, sulphur, iron and fluorine. Perhaps the lesser known of these is pectin, which is a fibre that helps reduce bad cholesterol and works to regulate blood pressure. It’s no wonder apple cider vinegar is often referred to as the “Wonder Drug.” If you do find the taste just a little too acidic, try adding a spoon of nature’s own sweetener, honey.
48. STRUM A GUITAR
Playing guitar reduces stress. A lot of musicians claim that a guitar possesses the best relaxing property. Plus it’s helpful in “inspiring” the immune system of the body, which is groovy guitar lingo for “it soothes your hormones.” Another great benefit of having a guitar is that you can take it anywhere, which is why guitar players are confident people with an appreciation of things that are in tune with them. The fact that your musical instrument is portable means you’re able to plug into the positive vibes that are all around you. Take some of the greatest guitar legends of the last two centuries and you’ll notice there is certainly a spiritual quality about them. Admittedly, some got it from a bottle but a lot were able to garner it from their obsession with a basic six-stringed acoustic instrument. Learning a basic strum on your guitar is a good starting point to helping you live longer because you are reducing stress. Touch the tip of your thumb and index finger to create a “pick” and using your lower arm only from the elbow, strum a sequence of down, down, up, up, down on all the strings. You can use this method slowly or fast, it’s really all about being in harmony with where you are at that moment in time. So pick up that “gat” and strum. Eventually, you may want to learn a chord or three. May you live long and strum on.
49. PLAY TETRIS
Researchers have found that playing Tetris immediately after a bad experience helps to lessen the reoccurring memory of that trauma. The concentration required to play the game diverts brain power away from storing the bad memories, thus reducing any emotional scarring that might have formed.
Apart from being a lot of fun, it’s a great way to stay in shape. An important part of being healthy is staying flexible. Bend over and touch your toes without bending your knees. It’s okay if you hear a couple of creaks and cracks, and a strained grunt. Most forms of dance require you to move, using bending and stretching movements, so you naturally become more flexible by simply dancing. Jiving about also builds strength by forcing the muscles to resist against a dancer’s own body weight, and with all styles of vigorous activity like line and ballroom dancing, your heart rate is elevated. And before you know it, you’re increasing stamina. So how about it, lead feet… Want to boogie?
51. BUILD MUSCLE
Truth be told, the real reason to build muscle is to look hot. Let’s face it, attracting the right attention is going to get the heart racing and that can only be good for you. Adding strength and power, having more energy for longer periods, raising your overall performance level and increasing your body metabolism to burn calories faster, are all benefits of a quality regime to build body muscle. And you don’t need to bulk up to build good muscle either. Muscular development is dependent upon a lot of physiological factors but one thing is clear however, a programme that incorporates weight-lifting along with weight-bearing aerobic activity is essential. You might want to start by lifting your body off the couch.
52. DRINK COFFEE
Sadly, the humble coffee gets a bad rap but it is really good for you – even medicinal. The Kaiser Medical Programme study shows us that coffee – and get this: alcohol – can reduce the chance of developing cirrhosis of the liver when consumed together. Caffeine has also been used to reduce the risk of skin cancer but only when applied topically. Most Americans get their antioxidants from drinking coffee but that’s not to say it’s the best source of antioxidants, it just means that it’s the most consumed; you’d be better off sticking with fruit and vegetables for this one. This little Ethiopian bean delight is a treasure trove of goodness really, including fighting cavities. It’s the world’s most loved drink as well as being the world’s second most valuable product after petroleum. So make it black and make it pure.
53. HUG SOMEONE
A group of lucky North Carolina researchers showed that hugs increase the “bonding” hormone, oxytocin and decrease the risk of heart disease. Just 20 seconds of hugging was enough to give the body a good “flush” of the beneficial hormone. The same study showed a noticeable decrease in levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, as well as a drop in blood pressure especially in women. Something to note is the quality of the hug, which needs to be “heartily”’ given to fully appreciate the benefits of the embrace.
54. GIVE BACK
Almost a decade of research with men who regularly did volunteer work has found their mortality rates were 2.5 times lower than men who did not. Another study reported working with those who benefited directly from a “giving” volunteer and the result was a greater immune system boost. Yet another research team showed that just watching someone in the act of giving, gave immune levels a boost. Students watching a film of Mother Teresa attending to the sick — even for those who disliked her — recorded increased levels of immune function.
55. GET MORE AEROBIC
A recent Finnish study found that the death rate for aerobically unfit men was 2.75 times higher than that of aerobically fit men. Those are odds you can bet on.
56. LOVE YOUR PRODUCT
Having an enduring confidence and belief in whatever your “product” or passion is, can add years to your life. Doing what one cares about — as a force for good in the world — is the real prescription for personal longevity. Take Daniel Carasso, former head and still honorary chairman of Groupe Danone. He died peacefully in his Paris home at the ripe old age of 103. The attribution to his extended years — yoghurt. Carasso’s story began in Spain in 1919 when his father started selling yoghurt using cultures from the prestigious Pasteur Institute. It was originally promoted as a health food and sold by prescription. In 1929, after having studied business and bacteriology, Daniel established the yoghurt company brand. His obsession was to transform this obscure ethnic food into a worldwide sensation, including adding fruit jam to the sour product to make it more acceptable to the all-important American market. An innovative tribute to finding simple and creative ways to enhance a product without scientific genius or eye-popping technology, but resulting in a game-changer for yoghurt. Daniel Carasso endured a century of turbulence and destructive change, some of it much worse than anything happening today. He was persistent when others gave up and implemented a vision with partners that admired his value-based passion for yoghurt. For you, it’s having the confidence and belief in yourself or your product, and doing what you care about most that will be the healthy ingredient to a long and impassioned life.
Swimming would definitely tick all the health benefit boxes as a mechanism for longevity. It’s perfect for both relaxing the mind and burning off calories, all while keeping your core body temperature cool. It’s arguably one of the best workouts for maintaining your overall fitness level with little to no impact or injury. A couple of major attributes with swimming is that it can save your life or the life of someone else. Plus, swimming is the only activity you can legally do in a pair of speedos. Alright, I’m struggling to convince you that wearing speedos is going to help you live longer but frankly, if you can look great in a pair of budgie smugglers, then you deserve a long and prosperous existence.
58. BE RICH
It seems that over 20 percent of low income families are limited by chronic disease, but households with an income over $100,000 only account for six percent of the same disease. The National Centre for Health study further concluded that, in general, communities with high poverty and low education suffer the worst health issues. On the other hand, higher income population groups create greater opportunities to better food and housing, safer neighbourhoods and greater access to medical care. Therefore, according to the data, being financially comfortable is your best bet for aspiring to centenarian numbers.
59. GET A MASSAGE
A great massage is both physically and mentally enhancing. To give the best back massage, first and foremost, you must warm your hands. We all know the feeling of icy phalanges on a warm back! It’s not exactly conducive to a Tantric experience. Next, you apply oil to the back and in a nice sweeping motion, slide both hands down to the small of the back and then back up towards the shoulders again. Then alternate with your right and left hand to slide your hand down one side of the back to where the “love handles” are and then back up to the shoulders and back of the neck. Then just repeat the movement until you hear the gentle grunts and snoring, or you yourself are blissfully unaware of the time and location. This form of kinetic massage has many benefits. It alleviates lower back pain and improves the range of motion. It can ease medication dependence and enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow – the immune system’s highway. It also helps to exercise and stretch weak, tight or atrophied muscles. For an athlete, it will help prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts. Massage improves the condition of the body’s largest organ – the skin. You’ll increase joint flexibility, lessen depression and anxiety, as well as promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks. Aside from pumping oxygen and nutrients into vital organs, improving circulation and reducing swelling, spasms and cramping, massage releases those good old endorphins that work as the body’s natural painkiller. These “feel good” hormones are a natural booster, and the more “good oil” you can get surging through your system, the longer you’ll want to hang around for more.
60. DON’T SMOKE
There’s nothing more we need to say here.