Fountain of Youth
Healthy choices that can (actually) extend your life
While nobody has ever found the restorative waters of the legendary Fountain of Youth, in a metaphorical sense it exists today thanks to centuries of research and understanding in the form of simple, healthy choices we can make to maintain our health and increase our chances of living well into old age.
An obvious choice, but one worth emphasizing. If you quit smoking by age 30, your survival rate can rival that of those who’ve never smoked. And if you quit by 50, you’ll reduce by half your chances of dying in the next 15 years. Finally, if you’re a smoker who’s already had a heart attack, you reduce by 30 percent your chances of having a second attack if you stop smoking.
Eating a healthy breakfast reduces the chances of becoming obese, developing diabetes, and having a heart attack. Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that something as simple as eating whole grain cereal daily can reduce your chance of dying by 19 percent.
Eat more fish
Eating fish once or twice a week can reduce your chances of a heart attack by more than a third and may also reduce the risk of certain cancers and ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The Omega-3 fats in fish also reduce blood triglycerides, reduce abnormal heart rhythms and the incidence of stroke, slow the buildup of artery-clogging plaques, and lower blood pressure.
Canadian researchers have found that even if you’re already 50 years old and never exercised, a brisk 30 minute walk three times a week can reduce your physiological age by about ten years.
It was once thought you couldn’t stop the withering of muscles associated with age. Recent research in Denmark, however, indicates that men and women who lift weights twice a week made gains in bone density and maintained the strength of people half their age.
Mindful meditation is a great way to cope with stress and anxiety and encourage longevity. Studies at the University of California, Davis indicate that those meditating daily have on average of 30 percent or more of the enzyme telomerase which is associated with long life.
Seems counterintuitive, but meaningful and productive mental and physical activity throughout life helps prevent an early death. Remember, not all hard work is unhealthy, especially if it keeps you motivated.