Virtually everyone wants to live longer. Researchers have studied the traits of those who live longest to uncover strategies that can work for most people. We can’t change our genes, but there are things we can do right now that can really help. Here are three of the most important:
1. Manage the Stress in your Life
Research clearly shows that too much negative stress can shorten your life. Heart disease and type-2 diabetes are two of the proven consequences. In addition, a 2012 study published in Biological Psychiatry found that anxiety can actually shrink that part of the brain that deals with stress, lowering your ability to cope with it. Over time, stress can accumulate, magnifying its effect on our bodies. Anxiety can also lower your immune response, leading to more colds and other infections.
Fortunately, there are effective ways to deal with stress. Take a time-out and listen to enjoyable music. Take a walk in the park or do something else that distracts you. Remember, the same brain circuits that carry distressing thoughts are involved in other activities. Occupying them with enjoyable pursuits (or believe it or not, even doing math problems), can give you a break and allow you to effectively regroup.
As shown in “Eliminate Everyday Negative Emotions in Minutes” on this site, discoveries in neuroscience have led to easy procedures that can take the sting out of the stressful events we deal with regularly. Used in conjunction with other strategies, like regular exercise, these can help us to effectively manage stress that could otherwise shorten our lives.
2. Keep moving – exercise regularly
Our bodies were made to move. In fact, Australian researchers looking at the public records of 11,000 adult participants of a television viewing habits survey learned a shocking fact. Those who averaged 6 hours per day sitting in front of the TV lived 4.8 years less than those who didn’t report watching television at all. The same study found that people who reported modest levels of exercise lived 1.5 years longer than those who exercised little.
So, don’t sit in front of the TV or computer screen too long. Get up and do some exercise.
The Harvard Mental Health Letter reported that depressed patients prescribed a weekly routine of vigorous exercise got relief from their depression comparable to those who took antidepressant medication. A 6-month follow-up found that far more people on the exercise program than the medication were still feeling better.
3. Drink one glass of red wine a day
Many doctors hesitate to recommend light to moderate drinking because heavy drinking can be so bad for you and your loved ones. Heavy drinking often leads to liver disease, auto accidents and higher risks of being a victim of homicide and suicide. It easily leads to alcoholism. That disease well fits Mark Twain’s observation, “It is easier to stay out then get out.”
But study after study finds that, compared to both heavy drinking and not drinking alcohol, light to moderate drinking can add years to your life.
As reported in TIME, researchers followed 1,824 study participants (63% men) for 20 years, controlling for every possible influencing factor. During that period, more than 69% of those abstained completely from alcohol died. Heavy drinkers didn’t fare much better – 60% of them died. In comparison, a mere 41% of moderate drinkers died.
Research indicates that red wine in particular aids cardiovascular health. It significantly increases HDL, the good cholesterol. It is a rich source of flavanols which, as reported in Dr. Brian Machida’s article “Can Food Fight Wrinkles and Aging Skin?” can improve circulation. The medical journal Circulation cites studies showing that red wine can block the early formation of arterial plaques which can ultimately lead to heart attacks and strokes.
One note of caution: if you’re a woman at increased risk of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about any alcohol you drink regularly. Studies associate even moderate alcohol use with increased breast cancer risk. The Harvard School of Public Health reports that adequate folate intake (at least 600mg/day) mitigates this risk.
Further, animal studies suggest that resveratrol, found in red wine, may directly increase longevity. So, if you can drink responsibly and get enough folate, having one 5 oz. glass of red wine a day (for women) and no more than two (for men) can be an enjoyable path to a longer and healthier life.
The great thing about these tactics is that they are low-pain, high-gain strategies. Learning to effectively manage stress can only benefit you and those around you. And, as long as you can handle it, one glass of red wine and a walk or jog every day is enjoyable. These and other proven strategies can help you have a longer life that’s worth living. What else will work? Watch for a follow-up article here on LookYounger.News.