According to a study published by experts at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the full extent of the human life span is likely 125 years, while the longest living individuals have hovered around 115. At the same time, the average life span of people in the United States is 79 years for babies born in 2016. The 100 year mark is roughly in between the current average and the full extent, so it seems like a reasonable goal. What are the secrets on how to live to 100 or beyond?
Go for 8. Hours of sleep, that is. The human body needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night for many reasons, one of which is that’s the time needed to repair your cells. If you don’t allow for consistent cell repair and rejuvenation, you age faster.
Have a purpose in life. Identify one or more purposes in your life, something about which you are passionate and that makes you excited to get up in the morning. It may be starting a new career, volunteering for a cause you are passionate about, writing a book, traveling, or exploring new hobbies. Having a purpose in life helps maintain a positive attitude, keep stress levels down, and boosts energy.
Stay positive. Accepting the things you cannot change and doing something about the things you can alter is one aspect of staying positive, and a trait of many people who live to be 100 or older. Much of this positive attitude approach keeps stress hormones at bay, but it also allows one to try new things, be social, engage in more sexual activity-in short, staying positive is like opening a door to a fuller life.
Eat a plant-based diet. A growing amount of scientific evidence shows that a plant-based diet significantly contributes to longevity. In addition to studies that demonstrate this concept, there are the examples of people who live in the blue zones (areas of the world where people routinely live to be 100 or older). In these regions, individuals typically consume meat once per week on average, and then only in small amounts.
Floss. This seemingly minor activity actually is very important because oral bacteria and inflammation are intimately associated with heart disease, the number one killer of both women and men. Recent research noted, for example, that never flossing increased the risk of death 30 percent when compared with flossing every day.
Stay frisky. Engaging in regular intercourse helps you live longer. That’s the finding of several studies, including British and Swedish research showing longer life was associated with more frequent sexual activity. Several reasons may explain this phenomenon, including evidence that intimacy enhances health, sex is exercise, sexual activity reduces stress, and frequent sex boosts immune system functioning.
Manage stress. The good news about this secret ingredient is that there are many ways to manage stress-but you must make the time to do it regularly, every day being preferable. Stress management can include daily practice of deep breathing, progressive relaxation, yoga, tai chi, meditation, exercise (that you enjoy), sauna or hot tub, reading-whatever you enjoy that helps you relax. Engaging in social activities with friends and taking vacations also fit the bill.
Maintain close social bonds. This can include close relationships with family, friends, or a greater community, depending on your circumstances. Isolation takes a great toll on mental state and physical well-being. Loneliness has been shown to be a key factor in raising stress hormone levels and inflammation and in increasing one’s risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia, suicide attempts, and heart disease. Some ways to maintain close social bonds include staying in touch with family and friends, joining groups of like-minded individuals, taking classes, volunteering, and attending spiritual or religious gatherings.
Don’t smoke. This seems like an obvious tip, but it still needs to be mentioned. Smokers cut at least a decade off of their life span, according to a study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine. The good news is, it’s never too late to quit.
Control blood pressure and cholesterol. Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol are important risk factors for the number one killer of both men and women-heart disease-but also conditions that tend to be silent (i.e., typically there are no symptoms). To control blood pressure and cholesterol naturally, steps include maintaining a healthy weight, consuming a nutrition diet (e.g., DASH, Mediterranean, which have been shown to control these factors), exercising regularly, and managing stress.
Maintain good posture. It appears that maintaining good posture can lengthen your life span. According to Atlanta chiropractor and author Dr. Steven Weiniger, who wrote Stand Taller-Live Longer: An Anti-Aging Strategy, establishing good posture plays an important role in how long you live. Research has shown that men who lost height as they got older (i.e., their posture got worse) were more likely to die prematurely from respiratory or cardiovascular problems than men who had good posture.
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