Longevity Tips for Every Day Life


As we talk about health, nutrition and fitness as it relates to longevity, one thing we have to remained focus on is the total lifestyle of a person as well. Could lifestyle actually be the biggest factor when it comes to how long we live (outside of genes)? Here’s some great articles on people living long and what they have in common:

“Dan, these Nicoyans are so incredible,” she answered. “They are so positive and so devoted to their families. All but one of the 33 Nicoyans we have met live with their family.” Elizabeth was looking at me, gesticulating as we walked. “They have a wonderful support network. They also tend to have a large number of visitors that they receive almost every afternoon, which is both a physical and psychological safety net.”

she resumed brightly. Then, with the optimism characteristic of many centenarians, she concluded, “I am a blessed woman today.”

“I was alone with this lovely, magical person,” she began. “She doesn’t live in a nice home. She’s so poor yet so satisfied with what she has. There was a total acceptance.

Taken from a story about centurians living n Costa Rice. The whole article is here.

Another interesting story in the NY Times is an interview with Dr Nir Barzilai and his study on centurians, he said:

Q. Are you looking for the genetic markers for longevity?

A. Yes, and we’ve found several so far. The most important thing we’ve found is that most centenarians have a lot more than average H.D.L. proteins, the good cholesterol, in their blood. Also, they had a lot more of them when they were younger, because their children have a lot more than their peers do. Also, size matters with the protein molecules. Eighty percent of the children of the centenarians had larger than average high density lipoproteins.

We know that eating whole foods (proteins, health fats, fruits, vegetables) and exercise with raise HDL levels. But also:

The most common thing this group had is that they did not reveal any particular lifestyle secret for their own longevity. When asked specifically, none has exercised. None was a vegetarian. Not a single one ate yogurt throughout his life.

Very interesting….and one last article in the Washington post on a study of older adults and longer living had this to say:

A new study of healthy older people found that the more active a person is, the longer he or she is likely to live. That alone is not terribly surprising. What’s new is that it apparently doesn’t matter what form the activity takes.

Ok, so from all these articles what is really the take home message? Well there are a few but we see the following trends in longer living people:

  • They are active – This could be walking, playing tennis, lifting weights, or whatever. But their lifestyle is more active as they do things consistently day to day that involve moving around. Once you take the body and sit it down on a couch for weeks at a time you are basically telling it that is serves no purpose anymore….and it starts to deteriorate. Be active, have active hobbies, get outside and do things you enjoy if you want to live long!
  • Diets can vary – I know we talk about optimal diets and eating patterns but to be honest, there are many people who live long, smoke and eat whatever they want. Could it be their genes are exceptional and meant for longevity? Possible. Could it also mean that there are larger lifestyle factors that contribute to longevity and health? Quite possibly.
  • Sense of purpose/close relationships/low stress/appreciation – I think this is where you see the big difference in living a long and happy life…they are happy! The appreciate what they have, they have a sense of purpose in what they do daily, they have friends and family around them as a support group and their daily lifestyle is a slower low stress based one. Stress in fact (daily even if small and ongoing) may be the one thing that is really accelerating the ageing process. Something to keep in mind.

So on that note….a few ideas that you can use to make your lifestyle more stress free, active and hopefully increase your longevity.

  • Go camping or picnic – go out with friends, get outside, enjoy good conversations (and maybe even some good wine)…slow down once in a while.
  • Have a game night – Invite friends over for a night of playing board games, laughter and good times.
  • Stop being is such a rush to get nowhere – As some zen person would say to you “you have nowhere to be, as you are already here”. Enjoy where you are at that moment…stop getting stressed out over the little things or places you need to be in the future…you will get there eventually, but don’t ruin the present moment which has the ability to be enjoyable.
  • Leave the watch and cell phone at home – Watch people and see how often they check their watch or cell phone. How are you supposed to enjoy where you are if you think you need to be somewhere else soon or want to see if someone called you. Personally I find it offensive when people want to hang out with you but bring a cell phone and check it often…that just signals that I am there until someone else comes along. Enjoy the environment and people around you right now.
  • Unplug the TV for a week (or longer!) – TV is nothing we need and usually serves no good purpose…so unplug it and try quiet nights reading a book, playing with your kids, talking to your significant other, or just taking a walk outside. Moments of inspiration and creativity only come in the peaceful and quite times when the mind is silent….a TV is just constant noise and distraction.
  • Volunteer only if you enjoy doing it – Why do you volunteer for something if you dread doing it? Don’t. Find an activity you enjoy or want to be a part of and then volunteer. For example, I enjoy playing hockey….so I enjoy volunteering for coaching kids or teaching clinics. Find something you enjoy and you and the people there will get more out of it.
  • Ask people about their goals in life – Challenge others to think, really get to know what they are all about. You may be surprised what the people around you really want to do with their life. Maybe you can help inspire them or get them going in that direction. Help someone else and you will feel great about yourself too.
  • Don’t talk about news, TV shows, movies, actors – worthless gossip and waste of time on events that may have nothing to do with your life and goals. Do you want to be an expert on past events or the lives of others? Or do you want to be an expert at living your life and finding purpose and meaning?
  • Make new friends wherever you are – talk to people around you…you never know who you just might meet. You may find another opportunity to help someone improve their life….or someone may be able to help you in your goals too. (professionally and personally)
  • Go listen to some live music – Lots of free events around town with music, go sit and enjoy…and leave the watch and cell phone at home (or in the car)
  • Don’t buy anything new for a week (except food of course) – Stop thinking that you can feel better by buying something else. That is a false assumption. Remember from the past post on happiness, we have everything we need right now. Show that by bringing nothing new into your life and reigniting an appreciation for what you already have.
  • Make your lifestyle active – walk, play tennis, hike, ride a mountain bike…whatever you enjoy. You will stay with it longer and for anyone that wants long term health and weight loss…this is key.
  • Have a purpose daily, write it down, live it – Find something worth doing daily because it is what you want to do. Just don’t go do things to keep you busy (shopping, movies, tv). Be selective on how you spend your time and really find your passions in life. Those are what give us the most in return.

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