10 Ways to Live Longer
Look For the Laugh
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
The daily doses for your health and longevity: one multivitamin; 600 milligrams of DHA/omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil) for brain function; 1,000 IU vitamin D for bone and heart health; 600 milligrams of calcium for bones; and 200 milligrams of magnesium to counteract the bloat and constipation that calcium can cause, says Dr. Michael Roizen, co-author of You: Staying Young.
For maximum absorption, take half a multivitamin at breakfast, half at dinner.
Don't Gum Up the Works
One little strand of floss can keep disease at bay. "Flossing prevents gingivitis, which ages your arteries and immune system," Dr. Roizen says. In fact, studies show that people with gum disease have an increased risk of heart disease and a higher mortality rate.
Talk and Walk
You probably already know that walking 30 minutes a day is great for you-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 percent longer than those with few personal connections, a 10-year Australian study found.
Taste the Rainbow
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 a ROYGBIV array of 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 percent 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 percent 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 lived longer than those who didn't.
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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 shut-eye 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.
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