We all know there are things we could be doing to look after ourselves a bit more. Take the stairs instead of cramming yourself into the elevator. Change your restaurant of choice from the bench outside Domino’s to somewhere with salads on the menu. Stop eating after 8pm and stop drinking before lunch.
However, there are also other, easier things you can do make sure you reach the other side of 80.
The bad news is that you’ll get less sleep, but the good news is that you’ll be having more sex, taking more holidays and even learning a whole new language.
1 | Leave That Last Chip Alone
In fact, what are you doing eating chips to begin with? As well as choosing healthier options, knowing when to stop eating can help safeguard your health. The thinking behind this is that your cells can sense how many nutrients are available to them and go into energy-saving, anti-aging mode when they find them lacking. Also, not every meal is a competition (particularly if it’s a first date) so eat slowly as it takes the brain around 20 minutes to realise you’re full and that reduced trifle you picked up from Tescos on the way home isn’t an essential.
2 | Have More Sex
Yeah, yeah, we know, it's not always that simple. But as if you need any motivation, bear in mind sex gives you a cardio boost (sometimes equivalent to running for 30 minutes), lowers blood pressure, increases your immunity and can improve your sleep. Getting down to it two to three times a week can add up to three years to your life.
3 | Ditch The Boxsets
Still think Rob Stark is going to end up on the Iron Throne? Unfortunately, you’ll never know anything different if you want to stay healthy as studies suggest that too much time in front of the TV is seriously bad for you, with those who watch more than four hours a day likely to die younger and suffer from a variety of health complaints, with every hour of TV you watch increasing your overall risk of dying before your time by 11%, especially if your better half insists on catching every. single. episode. of Great British Bake Off.
4 | Learn To Bury The Hatchet
Yes, your best mate might have said your new bomber jacket makes you look like part of an Oasis tribute band and yes, he may have ruined the ending of The Sopranos, but the key to living longer could be to take a leaf out of Nelson Mandela’s book and learn to be a bit more forgiving, as research shows those who spend most of their time bitter and alone often suffer from inflammation, leading to heart disease, which is a lot worse than swallowing your pride.
5 | Don’t Skip Your Morning Latte
(But do maybe change it for an espresso). As with cans of Red Stripe, drinking caffeine in moderation is known to have anti-cancer properties. Natural sources are the best, so go for organic coffee beans over a Red Bull for your caffeine hit. If you really want to get the best benefits from caffeine (and can handle heading to the bathroom 20 times a day) drink as many cups of green tea as possible. It’s packed with anti-oxidants and there’s less temptation to get it topped with squirty cream if you’re ordering one from a coffee shop.
6 | Give Your Immune System A Leg-Up
As well as raiding that bottle of strawberry-flavoured vitamin tablets you bought at Savers last weekend, take a leaf out of your grandparent's book each morning by taking a low dose of aspirin. As well as getting rid of that pulled hamstring pain, aspirin is known to reduce the risk of developing cancer by 46 per cent. This may just be the first of many anti-aging drugs as scientists begin to treat old age as an ailment in its own right, with a cancer treatment drug called everolimus being found to reverse immune deterioration, thus keeping you fighting infections for longer.
7 | Embrace Your OCD
(And don’t worry about getting stressed). If you’re the one always doing the washing up, you’ll probably find yourself having the last laugh as people who take more care in their personal and environmental hygiene are often at less risk of disease. Also, people with a little bit of stress in their lives tend to pay more attention to things like whether or not they’re happy in their job, where they live, how fast they drive and whether or not they follow their doctor’s orders, all of which amounts to living a healthier lifestyle.
8 | Learn A Language
(And swap your iTunes playlist for an audio book). People who continue to study throughout their lives are likely to live longer than those who didn’t do that much revision for their GCSEs, according to research carried out by Harvard University. This is because intellectually challenging activities stimulate regeneration of nerve endings in the brain, keeping everything functioning for longer and also giving your mental well-being a helping hand. Muy bien.
9 | Swap That Extra Hour In Bed For A Run
Back in the days when we all lived in caves, we’d wake up regularly to check for dinosaurs and the like on the prowl. As such, a comfy eight hours isn’t natural for humans and those random moments when you wake up, desperately searching for your phone to see if it’s 7am yet could be essential for regulating stress levels, thus helping us live longer. In fact, studies have shown 6-7 hours is the optimum amount of sleep, with any more having an adverse affect on your health. Our advice? Get out of bed when you naturally wake up and head out for a run to kick-start the system.
10 | Dig Out Those Cook Books
In your twenties those cook books your mum gets you each Christmas will likely get lost at the back of the kitchen cupboard, but dig them out as they might add years to your life. By buying fresh products and measuring how much of each goes into your food, you’ll cut out most of the additives and preservatives that can be harmful and you’re also likely to eat much less than you would in Wagamamas. Plus, cooking helps you to de-stress and also burns a hell of a lot more calories than sitting in a restaurant, continually glancing about to see where your starter has got to.
11 | Take Another Holiday
The good news is that “vacation, often considered an indulgence, needs to be rethought as a basic right and a priority”, least of all because it gives you a break from your “mad” co-workers. The Framingham Heart Study proved what we've long suspected, concluding that the more holidays a man took, the longer he lived. Basically, it's all down to giving your body and mind time to recover from the daily grind, instead of working yourself into a Falling Down-style episode (look how that ended for Michael Douglas). So, don’t feel guilty about booking that long weekend away, even if it's just a caravanning trip to Bridlington.
12 | Live In Japan
If you’re a Japanese person living in Japan you’re already set to out live the rest of us, as the land of the rising sun has the highest and healthiest life expectancy in the world, with men enjoying just over 70 years of good health. A diet of fish and rice plays a part, but Professor Kenji Shibuya claims the country’s humid climate, water-abundant environment and general hygiene are all contributing factors to you being able to get involved in a five-a-side match long into your silver fox years. Plus, if any crazy cryo-freezing units are going to be invented, we’d put money on the tech-forward Japanese being the ones to think them up first.
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