5 longevity hacks to improve your life now
What does longevity mean to you? Maybe you’re picturing yourself at 101, surrounded by great grandchildren. Envisioning a long and successful career. Or seeing a future where you’re fit and healthy enough to do all the things you love, however old you might be.
But what if we told you the things that are going to make you feel better in the long run are also going to make you feel great now?
Let’s take a look at 5 science-backed longevity practices that will help you to unlock a happier, healthier life today and live longer so you can enjoy it for years to come.
1. Get social for survival
That elderly neighbor of yours who seems joyful and unstoppable? They probably make socializing a priority – connecting with and helping others is key for a longer lifespan.
“I don't think a lot of people recognize that our relationships can have a physical impact as well as emotional,” says Julianne Holt-Lunstad, one of the researchers behind a study that found strong social support is comparable to giving up a 15-a-day cigarette habit.
We asked Luke and Bobby for a visual demo of social strength. We think they nailed it.
Try this: If you’re struggling to make or maintain connections, think about ways you can give back in your local community. Studies have shown that:
- Volunteers are less likely to develop high blood pressure.
- Those over 55 who volunteer for two or more organizations have 44 percent lower risk of mortality than those who don’t volunteer.
- Volunteers enjoy lower levels of depression, more calm and improved self-worth.
2. Young or old, your mind is stronger with sleep
When Chris Hemsworth discovered he was at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease – a blood test while filming his Nat Geo series Limitless revealed he carried two copies of the APOE4 gene, which increases the risk of Alzheimer’s 12-15 times – he set about building the habits that lower dementia risk.
One key habit on Chris’ list is sleep. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep regularly won’t just mean you’re sharp for tomorrow, it will help keep your brain fresh in the long run.
Still haven’t tried sleep visualization? Save one of our most popular for tonight: Full-body relaxation with Michael.
A recent study showed that getting enough high-quality sleep could halve the risk of developing dementia. A study on older adults in the US discovered that people who reported consistently getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night had double the risk of developing dementia compared with those who got the recommended 7-9 hours a night.
There’s growing evidence that meditation can actually slow aging on cellular level.
3. Meditate for younger cells
Meditation can help you find calm, get focused, release stress and perform better. So far, so good. Now there’s growing evidence that meditation can actually slow aging on cellular level.
How does that work? Your cells contain structures called telomeres that protect your DNA from damage during cell division. Every time a cell divides, these telomeres get shorter. When telomeres get too short, your cells can't divide anymore and begin to die.
However, even in people who have similar lifestyles and ages, studies have shown that those who meditate have longer telomeres than those who don’t – keeping your cells and your body looking and feeling younger for longer.
4. Fight the good fight with good stress
You won’t be surprised to hear that chronic stress is bad – it has been linked to everything from depression to cardiovascular disease and impaired immune function.
"Mother Nature has given all living beings resilience mechanisms so we don't keel over the minute we start experiencing chronic stress,” Firdaus Dhabhar, Associate Professor from the Stanford Center on Stress & Health says. “The sad thing is that we can put ourselves under so much chronic stress that even the powerful resilience mechanisms that nature has given us can break down”.
Chris and Luke are looking younger already.
But while persistent, long-term stress is damaging, certain kinds of acute stress, like shocking your body with cold therapy or trying a new style of training, can actually be beneficial for your longevity.
So how do you use this science in your day-to-day life? It’s important to find healthy ways to deal with things that bring you chronic stress, such as bad jobs or relationships. This may involve making changes in your life or seeking professional help. But it’s also crucial to build up your baseline resistance to stress.
- Regular meditation doesn’t just reduce the impact of stress, it also gives your mind space to think rationally.
- Yoga can “modulate stress response systems” – reducing physiological responses to stress such as a pounding heart rate or fast breathing.
- Spending time in natural, green spaces, which studies have shown can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels.
- Surprising yourself by trying things you don’t usually do.
5. Never too late, never too early
Longevity isn’t about arbitrarily adding more years to the ‘end’ of your life. All of the tips above will deliver immediate benefits to your life now, as well as helping you to live longer. And these things add up, meaning the longer you do them, the better and more durable the benefits will be.
Worried you’ve left things too late? We have a few stats that show there’s no such thing…
- “Even people 100 years old or older can build muscle strength,” says Dr. Edward Phillips, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
- A study in the British Medical Journal found that individuals who adopted a healthy lifestyle in their 60s had a 60 percent lower risk of mortality than those who did not adopt any healthy habits.
- Another found that 80 year olds could boost their quality of life and gain about 3.5 years by eating a better diet.
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