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10 WAYS TO LIVE LONGER
Laugh a lot. People with a good sense of humor increased their odds of survival by 31 percent, according to a 2006 Norwegian study of critically ill patients. When something strikes you as funny your body produces less aging stress hormones, explains Dr. Bruce Rabin, medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Healthy Lifestyle Program.
Pop Five Pills
A multivitamin (for maximum absorption, take half at breakfast, half at dinner); 600 milligrams of DHA/omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil) for brain function; 1000 IU vitamin D for bone and heart health; 600 mgs of calcium for bones; and 200 mgs of magnesium to counteract the bloat and constipation that calcium can cause, says Dr. Michael Roizen, co-author of You: Staying Young.
Take Care of Your Gums
Flossing your teeth prevents gingivitis, which ages your arteries and immune system, Dr. Roizen says. Studies show that people with gum disease have an increased risk of heart disease and a higher mortality rate.
Talk and Walk
Walking 30 minutes a day is great - but bringing a friend along is even better. You not only get the antiaging benefits of physical activity but also the social contact that helps bolster immunity and reduce stress, says Dr. Roizen. People over 70 with a lot of friends live an average of 22% longer than those with few personal connections, a 10-year Australian study found.
Color Your Diet
The more naturally colorful your diet, the healthier it is. Vibrantly hued fruits and veggies are loaded with antioxidants, says Dr. Mark Liponis, medical director of Canyon Ranch resorts and author of Ultra Longevity. Fill your grocery cart, lunch bag, and dinner plate with the colors-of-the-rainbow produce.
Aim for Your Optimal Weight
Sticking close to your teenage weight is good for your health and your vanity. Gaining a lot between the ages of 18 and 40 is particularly dangerous because “every 10% increase in weight raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure is one of the major factors affecting aging,” says Dr. Roizen. Plus, lowering your daily caloric intake by 10 to 20% seems to be linked to a longer life, says Dr. Terry Grossman, co-author of Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever.
Do Some Good
People who volunteer live longer and have fewer overall health problems, including depression and heart disease, than those who don’t, according to a 2007 review of more than 30 studies. “It’s a way to make friends and build social networks,and it gives people a sense of purpose,” Dr. Rabin says.
De-Stress with Intimacy
Sex has been linked to lower blood pressure and a heartier immune system. “It relaxes you and helps strengthen your relationship with your partner, which in turn increases longevity,” explains Dr. Grossman. To wit, one study found that women who said they enjoyed sex loved longer than those who didn’t. (And see my previous blog showing men who had sex 3 times per week had 50% less heart attacks than those who
had only infrequent sex).
Finish Those Annoying Tasks
The burden of leaving a lot unfinished on your to-do list - think de-cluttering closets or paying a stack of bills - can have the same cumulative impact on health as a major life event like divorce or a death, research has shown. This sort of generalized stress can age you the equivalent of eight years, Dr. Roizen says.
Hit the Sack
Seven to eight hours of sleep a night is ideal, research shows. “Sleep deprivation increases the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, and weakens your immune system,” explains Dr. Liponis. To achieve the deepest rest, he recommends sleeping in a cool, pitch-dark room - use eyeshades for a blackout effect if you need to.
Excerpted from InStyle Magazine, May 2010