Does it really matter how long we live? After all, there’s something cosmic associated with the number of breaths we were allotted at birth. What matters is the balance of meaning and purpose that is infused in every single stand of the glorious fabric of your existence.
‘Genetics, Environment and Lifestyle’ be it an amoeba or a human, these are the 3 core factors that determine the longevity of just about any lifeform on earth.
While there is not much that can be done about genetics, a few positive, constructive changes such as the following in your lifestyle and environment can contribute phenomenally in helping you dance past a century or just about close to it.
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Wake Up With The Lark
What’s common between Apple CEO Tim Cook; PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi; Shark Tank investor Kevin O Leary; Ex-First Lady of the USA Michelle Obama; and creator of Dilbert, Scott Adams? These unbelievably successful people are early risers and owe a chunk of their success to this habit.
There’s magic in waking up in the wee hours of the morning; smelling the fresh air before traffic gets the better of it; hearing birds chirp before calls come pouring in; to rejuvenate under the gentle caress of the soft sun and sparkling clean environment before burying our heads into devices for the rest of the day.
Being a 5 am person is more about adding ‘life to your years’ than ‘years to your life.’
In a comprehensive study conducted by JAMA Psychiatry on observing 8,40,000 adults with European ancestry, it has been inferred that sleeping an hour early and waking up an hour early can lower the risk of major depressive disorders by 23%
This, though, is not all. There are innumerable other health benefits associated with waking up with the lark, like enhanced cognitive functioning, improved gut health, accelerated healing and regeneration, slowing down of the aging process, improved mental health and more.
Try it to believe it!
Invest An Hour To Exercise
Did you know ‘sitting is the new smoking? In case you missed the news, as per WHO, a sedentary lifestyle may be well within the top 10 reasons for untimely deaths in the world, given that approximately 2 million people lose their lives to causes directly associated with physical inactivity.
Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, compromised immunity, weakened respiratory system, reduced mental capacity, wasting of the musculoskeletal system, poor blood flow, mental / behavioural degeneration and expedited aging when you rest your rear-end way more than it needs to rest, nature presents you with this goodie bag of disasters that can otherwise be prevented with just an hour of exercise 5 days a week!
Live Longer, Younger, Smarter with 1 Hour of Workout!
How To Increase Longevity: Here’s A Quick Guide For A Quick Start
- Pick a time of the day when you’ll be minimally disturbed.
- Start with low to moderate-intensity workouts.
- Maintain a good mix of cardio and weight training.
- Be 100% sure of your health condition before starting.
- Always start under the guidance of a certified trainer.
- Stay hydrated; stay nourished.
- Do not overdo it; it can lead to injuries.
Brisk walking and Yoga are, by far, the best-known exercises that combat literally all ills that arise from a sedentary lifestyle. They are safe and easy to start with as well.
Decided Yet? Your time starts now!
Get Good Sleep; Quality vs Quantity
‘Of the innumerable reasons that keep you up at night, here’s one good reason to let it all go, impermanence.’
You may be getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting good sleep; that is, the kind of sleep that would add to your longevity.
Good sleep is defined by factors like:
- Sleep latency is how long it takes you to drift to sleep once you hit the bed.
- How many times do you wake up through the length of your sleep?
- 3 to 5 cycles of REM sleep, each lasting for about 10 minutes.
- The condition you wake up in, happy and energized vs irritable and groggy.
- The balanced mood throughout the day.
It is wrong to believe that poor quality sleep and insomnia affect just the elderly. In this century, it hits the young population as well as the middle-aged population with equal impact.
Academic stress, job stress, loans, mortgages, bills, relationships, lifestyle, social media addiction, underlying and unidentified health conditions, there are innumerable reasons that interfere with your Circadian Rhythm till it collapses to SOS levels.
Compromised sleep is a silent killer. It is directly associated with cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, dementia, depression, weakening of the Central Nervous System, failing immunity, gradual deterioration of the endocrine system and a steep decline in mood and behavioural patterns.
Wish to Improve Sleep Quality? Here’s how you can do it instantly…
- Put off phones and social media at least an hour before bedtime.
- Adopt relaxing habits like reading or meditating before sleep.
- Check for underlying conditions like sleep apnea etc.
- Eat a light dinner at least 2 hours before sleeping.
- Avoid caffeine after sun-down.
- Stay as active as you can during the day.
Name a reason that keeps you up till dawn. Bills? Targets? Breakup? Debts? Office politics? Infidelity? Failed promotion? Friends living your dream life in social media? 40, but never been kissed?
Add to the list or choose from among the options given.
Tell your brain, ‘This is a phase; it will pass. This is my time to rest, and nothing at all shall disturb me.’
Say it out loud before you sleep. Practice this habit every night and watch it work towards helping you snooze like a baby!
Nourishment is the key to longevity. Your body requires the right nutrients from the right sources in the right quantity to stay young, active and disease-free for a long.
Therefore, you need to eat the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins to keep your system functioning normally.
While leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains are a must, your food should also contain proteins from the right sources, like white meat, fish and dairy, which are the only known sources of Vitamin B12.
A Quick Guide to Nutrition For Longevity
- Stay hydrated; drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.
- Include antioxidants in your diet like berries, dark chocolate, dark leafy greens, dry fruits, pink grapefruit, kale etc.
- Eat proteins from the right sources; poultry, dairy, and white meat are recommended for maintaining healthy functioning and regeneration of the body.
- Avoid sugar and sugary products; switching to natural sugars like jaggery, stevia etc., is a healthier alternative.
- Carbs are important. So, choose the right carbs instead of ditching them altogether. For example, choose complex whole-grain bread over refined white bread to see the difference.
- Restrict eating out of a can and cut down on take-outs; home-cooked meals aid longevity.
- Be very careful with fad diets. They may help you shed dress sizes but at the cost of your health and well-being.
- Go Organic. Organic farming uses only natural fertilizers. Fruits and vegetables sourced from mainstream farming have been found to contain traces of toxic metals like nickel, chromium, lead, cadmium etc., that have been linked with organ failures, neurological breakdowns and more.
- Take Supplements to combat deficiencies. If you follow a specific type of diet that naturally leads to deficiencies in some nutrients or others, take supplements to bridge the gap.
There’s no ailment in the world that a healthy mind cannot overcome.
Among all the components that make a human system, the brain is undoubtedly the most powerful.
It is the most complex organ that even scientists are yet to comprehend in its entirety and is the control center for thoughts, emotions, memory, actions, breathing, motor skills, speech, learning, and just about any and every action that happens in a human system whether internally or externally.
However, like every other organ, even the brain loses its potential with time. This is one of the reasons why the elderly is often seen suffering from forgetfulness, dementia, deteriorating comprehension skills, and even some degenerative brain diseases that can otherwise be delayed or prevented altogether.
Therefore, making conscious efforts at maintaining a healthy brain is always the first step towards a happy-ever-after.
Anytime is a good time to start fortifying your brain health. Here are a few quick tips for setting you on track.
Learn Languages or Musical Instruments
This is one of the best ways to increase the capacity of your grey cells.
Play Brain Games
Brain games like puzzle solving, IQ tests, sudoku etc., are known for stimulating the brain, thus keeping it active and functioning in perfect order, literally indefinitely.
Did you know smoking destroys grey cells? As observed in innumerable research conducted on brain health, smokers have a thinner cerebral cortex (part of the brain that is directly associated with cognitive abilities) as compared with non-smokers (keeping all other factors like age, diet, body weight etc., the same).
The brain thrives on proper nutrition. Foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, herring, trout and sardines; foods rich in antioxidants like berries and dark leafy vegetables; Spices like Turmeric, which is known to ease depression and improve memory; nuts and dark chocolate are great choices to include in your diet to keep your brain buffed.
An hour dedicated to exercising maintains healthy blood flow to the brain, which in turn keeps it functioning like new at any age.
Strange but true, meditation has been seen to change the structure of the brain, for the better, of course.
People that meditate regularly are seen to have a thicker prefrontal cortex in comparison with those that don’t. This is directly linked to better focus, concentration and decision-making.
If you smoke, STOP; If alcohol is your staple. STOP; If you are into recreational drugs (legal or illegal), STOP.
Did you know alcohol addiction can take away 12 to 13 years of your life? Did you know the life expectancy of a cocaine addict is 37 years?
Similarly, the life expectancy of a coke addict is 44 years, and the life expectancy of a chain smoker is 10 to 15 years shorter than a non-smoker (with all other conditions being the same).
A shorter lifespan, though, is a lesser concern compared to the quality of life lived through the years in addiction.
From unnecessarily inviting long-term degenerative diseases to depleted mental health and loss of life due to overdose, it is a living, breathing horror story of lost hopes and lost possibilities that are otherwise completely avoidable.
If longevity is your priority, anytime is a good time to give up on addictions.
As per recent studies, happy people are likely to live longer than then their less happy counterparts.
A part of it can be owed to the fact that happiness combats stress and stress-related diseases like cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, blood pressure problems, depression etc.
Happier people are also more likely to make better decisions in terms of sustenance and survival, which goes a long way in adding meaningful years to their existence. Prioritizing happiness is, thus, a powerful means to increase longevity.
Given the odds of this century, staying joyful can be very difficult. However, nothing is impossible with practice. Here are a few tips to help you find happiness and make it a default state of your existence.
- Pursue your hobbies. It can be something you lost touch with decades ago or a new one altogether. Hobbies are the best catalysts for lasting happiness.
- Socialize with the people you love the way you always wanted to. You are never too old to go out and have fun. I draw my inspiration from a group of motorbiking ladies, all aged 55 years and up.
- Help the lesser fortunate. ‘Helper’s High’ is real. It keeps you miles away from an existential crisis and gives you a purpose in life that is greater than all else.
- Do not deny yourself the little pleasures in life. Let no one tell you that you’re too old to fall in love. Let no one tell you that you are way past your prime to start something new. Buy that book; wear that dress; don that hairstyle; start that podcast; make mistakes and laugh at them.
You have one life, be happy and live long!
Food For Thoughts
Here’s some good news before we end this article! Did you know you won’t hit middle age before the early 60s? Whether you’re a man or a woman, you technically get to stay younger for longer!!! Could it get any better than this? Guess not 😊
So, under the new definition, what should longevity imply? Should it just be about adding years to your life? Or should it revolve around adding life to your years? The latter is better, and it is achievable!
Your ‘happily ever-after’ story starts from here. Have you welcomed any new habits to enhance your longevity? Do share; we are eager to know!
Also read: How To Deal With Someone Who Lacks Self-Awareness