October 31, 2016
With the right lifestyle changes, you can press the pause button on the ageing process – or even reverse it.
1. Love your age
How you feel about ageing affects how you experience it – people who feel good about getting older have fewer illnesses and a longer life than those who see it negatively. Yale University’s Dr Becca Levy found that the people who embraced ageing lived on average 7.6 years longer than those who saw it negatively.
2. Know that happiness grows
Forget the stereotype of the grumpy old man (and woman). A study of more than 10,000 people in the UK and US found that happiness is a U shaped curve. So from a low point in our mid 40s, it just gets better.
3. Stand when you can
It will cut your risk of diabetes. ‘Standing for five minutes every half hour lowers blood sugar levels by 30% – and the effects are almost instant,’ says Professor Melanie Davies of Leicester University. A 2014 Swedish study confirmed that the less time a person spent sitting, the greater their chances of living longer.
4. Boost your sex life
An active sex life is one of the keys to looking and feeling younger and may keep your brain young, says psychologist Dr David Weeks. Dutch researchers found that the more sexually active older people were, the better their memories and brain function – some research has found that sex can even stimulate the growth of brain cells.
5. Stay calm
Impatient people may be ageing prematurely according to scientists from the National University of Singapore. Their tests found that impatient students had shorter telomeres that those taking a more relaxed approach.
6. Sleep soundly
Just one bad night can make you age faster. The UCLA Centre for Psychoneuroimmunology found that sleep deprivation activates pathways that promote biological ageing. As well as leaving you looking and feeling worn out, poor sleep can lower levels of Human Growth Hormone, the anti-ageing hormone which stimulates growth and cell reproduction.
7. Challenge your brain
Fire up those neurons by learning a second language, taking on the cryptic crossword or acquiring a new skill.
8. Think positively
If your glass is half full and you believe in good times even during the bad, you’re already half way there because studies worldwide show that optimists live longer.
9. Say Ommmmm
It may turn back your biological clock. In a recent study from Harvard Medical School researchers found that people who meditated daily for four years not only had greater blood flow in the brain, they also had longer telomeres.
10. Find ways to de-stress
It’s no surprise that chronic stress is ageing – it affects your sleep, your immunity, your digestive system and your risk of heart disease. Now neuroscientists at the University of California have found that chronic stress can damage brain structure and connectivity.
11. Recapture your youth
Ageing could be all in your mind. In a groundbreaking experiment Harvard social psychologist Professor Ellen Langer enabled a group of 70 olds to live as if it were 20 years earlier. After a week their mental health, physical strength, cognitive abilities and youthful appearance had all improved.
12. Be kind
It stimulates the release of oxytocin – the so-called love hormone released during childbirth and breastfeeding, which can also lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
13. Keep friends close
Experts say that a strong social network could be as important for health as exercise. People who maintain good friendships have stronger immune systems, stay mentally alert and live longer than those who are more isolated.
14. Get close to nature
The Japanese think it’s so beneficial to health that they even have a forest bathing therapy. They found that just a single day in the woods can boost immune function and increase the number of anti-cancer proteins for a week. Studies from North America and the Netherlands found that just living near greenery boosted longevity.
15. Get brushing
Gum disease has already been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. Now scientists have found that the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment increases as people lose teeth.