photo credit: gorgeouxness
“Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that can happen to a man.” – Trotsky
It is said that although death is certain, the time of death is most uncertain. Wise people have been trying to teach us this for thousands of years. Long life is considered by many to be the most precious gift that one can be given for it is rare and valuable; an unlikely chance to experience more, contribute to society and redeem our faults.
And although we will never be able to permanently cheat death, modern science is now showing us dozens of ways to add years to our life. In this post I want to show you some interesting things I have found about how to add at least ten years to your life, broken down into a list of do’s and don’ts.
Why live longer?
While researching this post I have come across and interesting perspective – why would I want to live a long life? Why would I want to grow old and lose my mobility, friends and perhaps sanity? Wouldn’t it be better to pass away younger whilst still relatively healthy and independent?
From one point of view I guess this attitude is right. I can understand why people would be afraid of living to an old age if old age meant only a degradation in the quality of their own life. But, from another perspective I think old age is quite a wonderful thing. Time is so limited and fleeting, any extra amount I am given to accomplish my goals would be most welcome.
A different focus
The key thing here, I think, is that your focus must be on charity, contribution, service, others. If you are just trying to live a long life because you are afraid of death or because you don’t want to leave your nice house then the whole idea seems silly. But if you want to live a long life in order to help others, then you are on a very different track.
The list of people who continued to help others right into their twilight years is long and includes wonderful names like:
- Shakyamuni Buddha (81 years)
- Mother Teresa (87 years)
- Gandhi (78 years)
- Benjamin Franklin (84 years)
Adding ten years to your life would be a wonderful achievement if it meant you could spend more time working to benefit others, helping your family and friends and contributing to your community and society. Unfortunately, however, there is no way we can add so many years to our life that death is averted. We must always try to remember that.
How to add 10 years to your life – the do’s and don’ts
photo credit: Ka-ho Pang
I have done my best to include as much “further reading” materials in the following tips so that you can go on and read more about the subject, the studies, etc. If I have missed any or you have any further information please leave a comment. It might really help someone.
DO – Meditate
Modern science is now beginning to study the effects of meditation on longevity with some very promising results. In India I had often heard stories of monks and nuns who lived to an extremely old age and I often wondered whether this had something to do with their dedicated meditation practice. Dr. Robert Keith Wallace is a pioneer in this field and published a study in the Journal of Neuroscience which showed that those who practiced meditation for just a five year period had a biological age somewhat 12 years less than their chronological age.
So why does meditation increase your lifespan? Lots of reasons. The main three, however, relate to its ability to deal with stress, longevity and immunity hormones. Dr. Vincent Giampapa has done studies that show how massively these hormones are affected by some simple meditation practice.
Many of these studies have shown that you just need to take a few minutes each day to sit down, relax and focus on your breathing. Calm your mind down and focus on the breath coming in and out of your nose and there is a good chance you will avoid certain illnesses. Scientific proof that the mind can affect the body in a big way.
DON’T – Stress
More than ever before we have concrete evidence that stress can kill you. Sure, it won’t kill you right away but it will lead to things like heart disease and perhaps even cancer. Robert Sapolsky has spent more than 30 years studying the effects of stress. In an interview with Stanford Report he mentions that stress is designed to keep us alive by helping us run away from predators or fight off enemies, and it does this extremely well by releasing certain hormones. But nowadays those same hormones are being released when we worry about money or our next bill. And overtime this has devastating effects on the body.
Stress is also dangerous because it can lead to other life-shortening practices like smoking or binge drinking. When you feel stressed at work you often come home to a junk food meal and some beer to make you feel better. And this makes you sick.
If you want to add 10 years to your life you need to learn how to deal with stress. It is important to realize that you will never be able to eliminate all the causes of stress in your life; the bills will keep coming. The goal is to develop some techniques to deal with those life events.
DO – Drink Green Tea
Green tea has been drunk in China and other regions of Asia for thousands of years. It has formed an integral part of their medical system and has long been known as a substance that can have very positive effects on the body. And now western medical science is backing up those claims with various studies that point to the health benefits of green tea. The study in the previous link surveyed 40,000 people over a ten year period and found that drinking green tea made you less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. And considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the western world, it might mean that green tea can significantly increase your life span.
photo credit: code_martial
When drinking green tea it is important to buy it from an ethical producer who is located in a non-polluted region. There is some evidence that suggests that toxins in the air and soil can be absorbed into the tea plant and passed along to your body. It is also very important to drink tea without any milk as a protein in the milk can damage some of the beneficial enzymes in the tea. Tea also has the dual effect of calming you down which can definitely reduce your stress levels.
DON’T – Stay up late
I have written about sleep a lot of times on this blog; how to wake up fresh, how to get to sleep, why staying up late is bad for you, etc. I have always felt the effects of a bad night’s sleep on my own body and mind but the more I look in to the matter, the more I realize that science is discovering the same thing. Late nights and erratic sleep are now understood to be contributing causes to conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The interesting thing about sleep is that no one knows why we do it. But we know that we need it. Since the beginning of our species the body has forced us into shutting down each night for around six to 12 hours. And now that we have the internet, busy careers and, of course, the TV, we are all getting a lot less sleep. And this is worrying a lot of experts.
If you want to live an extra ten years it is important that you have good sleep habits. Try to make sure you go to bed and wake up at the same time each evening and morning, don’t drink things like red wine and coffee before bed which cause you to have poor sleep, and make sure you are getting enough hours. The ironic thing about all of this, however, is that you will probably spend an extra ten years asleep!
DO – Exercise every day
This is nothing new. Exercise has long been known to have benefits like weight loss, increased cardiovascular health and an increased level of emotional well being. But what is just coming out now is how much exercise you need to achieve these benefits. And it is bad news for sweat haters. You need exercise every day. One recent study went so far as to say that you will not lose weight in the long term unless you exercise an hour every single day. That is a lot.
photo credit: David Clow – Maryland
The good news is that there are so many different types of exercise you will never feel bored. Exercise doesn’t have to be running or lifting weights. It could be yoga, pilates, dance classes, tai chi or kick boxing. It is important to choose a variety of different disciplines so that you do not get sick of one thing and give up on exercise altogether. One way you can do this is find a buddy that will share your passion and dedication. Go to classes together, wake each other up at 6:30am to go for a run, have fun together. This is an easy way to add years to your life.
DON’T – Eat Meat
This is likely to be a very controversial heading as the western world is so obsessed with eating meat. We have commercials on television telling us to eat more red meat for its iron and vitamins and we have Government sponsored cookbooks telling us that lots of meat is healthy. But, as happened in Australia a few years ago, it turned out that the cookbooks were paid for by the meat industry. Often times the advice telling us to eat meat has an ulterior motive.
There are now lots of studies that show that vegetarianism is linked with a longer life. In fact, this one tells us that if you eat a vegetarian diet for over 20 years you are likely to add four whole years to your life. It is interesting to note, however, that the scientists don’t really know why a low meat diet increases our lifespan. Is it because fruit and vegetables are so healthy, because meat is unhealthy or because being a vegetarian might also indicate other lifestyle choices? They just don’t know.
Eating less meat is a way to live longer but it is also a good idea for other reason. Two of the big ones include ethics and environmental protection. The meat industry is extremely cruel to animals at every stage of their life. The living conditions are often torturous and the culling and transport stages (especially if live export) are unacceptable. In a day an age where we have scientific and documentary evidence that animals feel pain, emotions and desire happiness, it is entirely baffling that we continue to treat them with such cruelty when using them for food.
I have been trying for a long time to be vegetarian and keep failing miserably so I definitely don’t deserve this soap box. But I have got my meat eating down to around once or twice a week with a view to, one day, have totally kicked the habit. If you love a good steak or a cheeseburger perhaps try limiting it to weekends and see how you go?
These few simple do’s and don’ts are enough to add ten years on to your life if you do them consistently and with dedication. But it doesn’t need to stop there – you can stop smoking and, just by that fact, you will increase your life expectancy. Remember, living a long time is something we should aim for but not expect. It is important to use what little time we have on this planet to help others and bring about positive changes in lives of those around you. Otherwise you might spend 90 years not doing much at all.
another great post again. like your posts very much.
Good post, supported by evidence. I think these are mostly things many of us know already, and just don’t put into practice. In recent years, I’ve upped my exercise level and cut back my meat consumption. My stress level hasn’t really changed. I don’t meditate, at least not regularly or formally. I drank green tea for a while, maybe I can pick it up again. I switched to Rooibos because I liked the flavour more, but I’m not really sure if it has the same health benefits.
I’d have to say the one I struggle the most with is not staying up late.
The Daily Minder
Agreed. It is very hard to get regular sleep hours with work and everything else going on.
I stopped eating meat/chicken/seafood around 2.5yrs ago after watching a documentary about the treatment of animals…it was the best thing I ever did as far as my health is concerned – I am now 8-10kg lighter & I never feel heavy or bloated.
A year later, I gave up coffee, however I replaced my coffee addiction with a tea addiction. I have black tea with a dash of soy milk, which isn’t so bad…except that I drink excessive amounts if it all day long. After reading your post…I am now more motivated to switch to green tea!!
I meditate once every 2 weeks (for 1hr)…although I would like to meditate for 20-30mins every morning (as a routine). I’m really struggling to form this habit as I’m not a morning person at all. I stay up late almost every night because I want to get more out my day (a result of poor time management, working long hours at the office + an internet addiction).
Re: exercise, I love Yoga & Pilates, but I can’t seem to find a happy ‘ongoing’ work-life balance…I go through stages e.g. 3 months on, 3 months off. I usually fall off the bandwagon when things get busy or stressful at work, and then I find myself in a complete rut, neglecting my need to exercise. Quite silly really, as the exercise directly helps me deal with the stress – so I am jeopardising myself at the worst possible time!
Thanks so much for the great post & further reading…you have really inspired me.
The Daily Minder
Great changes Belinda! Please let us know how you go with the green tea.
Very useful post. Thanks for the extensive information.
All the best,
I have a family friend who left New York at age 60+ and built a house in a remote area of Puerto Rico (Ponce). Perhaps he would have lived past age 90 regardless, but I always attributed it to that move.
To be honest, I think the best way to extend your life is to make it resemble the live that you want to live. Keep your long-term health in mind, but ditch your short-term hang-ups to be spontaneous.
The Daily Minder
Interesting Nate. Why do you think that makes a difference? Less stress?
I love your posts tremendously, thank you for promoting so much positivity!
In my own life the things that make me feel the healthiest are early nights (not having the internet at home apart from a limited style via my mobile, and not having a huge interest in TV aid this immensely!), vegetables and fruit, exercise and good friends. My general foodage rules include not eating red meat and avoiding caffiene and oily foods. I want to give up sweets and although I eat less than I used to, I’m finding it a big challenge. However, the area in life I am having the most trouble with is dealing with stress; even very small, minor occurrences worry me immensely. I hope I can find a way to stop worrying about small things, or about things I can’t control.
Thank you once again for your life-advice, I am looking forward to future posts from you.
The Daily Minder
Interesting point about good friends. I remember seeing a study about people who have healthy marriages and they live something like 10 years longer on average.
Thanks for stopping by.
I am of a long-lived family. At 60, I began a new career which I expect to last for 30+ years. I spend my days helping people to grow and I am grow thereby.
I have many friends who are “waiting to die” – they refer to themselves as “retired”.
It makes me want to cry to see their experience, wisdom and energy going unused when our world so needs such.
Thanks for your ideas, most of which I employ (however, I can’t go with you on the no meat idea 😉
The Daily Minder
Do you have any other tips to share Les? Does your family do anything different or are you just blessed with good genes?
Thanks in advance.
Love the tips. I faltered on vegeterianism for a while, until I watched one too many clips on how animals were treated. Ugh, it must’ve been just the right dose because I kicked meat completely and have no cravings whatsoever. Yeayyy to find out my life can be extended, also:)
The Daily Minder
Well done! Its a great move to make. I hope I can get to the 100% mark soon as well.
That makes sense that stress has such an effect on our longevity. The hormones released can’t possibly be good for us, as they are meant for short-term value, which then makes our life more likely to be short-term. We must deal with stress in a healthy way now if we want to have a long ‘later’. I get a sense of this when I have been in a stressful situation, as I feel like not handling it smoothly is not good for my health.
I agree about staying up late being unhelpful as well. It prevents us from getting up early and wakeful, and from getting enough sleep in general, which is associated with many problems.
I think these do’s and don’ts really would add 10 years of age to someone who wasn’t doing them already.
I just stumbled on this site tonight for the first time. There is so much good information here! I wish I had known about this earlier. My wife is a vegetarian now, but she wants to be vegan. She can’t do it unless I choose to do it, as well, because she’ll be tempted to falter from it if “my food” is around the house. I was a vegetarian for about 2 years in high school, just to see if I could do it, so I’m thinking I might go tell her that I’m willing to take it up with her. It won’t be too hard, I mean, studies have been saying that milk from cows isn’t really the healthiest thing to drink (I like rice milk better, anyway!). The only problem for me was with cheese. I’m an addict. But, I’ve been trying out some of the vegan cheeses, and they aren’t all that bad. I always feel like a fool when I get ideas like this, because now I have to go back to my wife and admit that she was right about something….as usual…
Thanks for the post! I look forward to reading more!
Cheese was the hardest thing for me to give up, as well.
If you’re a person who just likes creamy/melty cheese, then the new vegan cheese Daiya can be your good friend. It’s the closest anyone’s come to cheddar/mozzarella that I’ve found. It melts beautifully on pizza and sandwiches.
If, however, you’re a person who likes “stinky” cheese for the pungent flavor, may I suggest trying different olives? Whenever I miss the sharp flavors of aged cheeses, I visit the olive bar at my local grocery and pick out a few. They hit the spot nicely.
Oh, and thank you for even considering going vegan for your wife’s benefit. I live with two omnivores and it is difficult/disturbing at times to come across what’s in the fridge.
Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com
I’m 21 and have got most of these things down to a nail. For those of you older than me you’re not getting any younger! Start increasing your longevity. You’re not leaving anything behind except for your weak selves.
I completely agree with the DONT’S. I recently started going to bed and getting up earlier. An amazing surge in energy has accompanied this as well as improved productivity and feeling truly alive. Which means I am less stressed too. You’ve found a ‘don’t’ that makes great sense and my own life evidence backs it up.
Can’t wait for MORE articles! Your posts are awesome, you should update your blog more often.
Question: What is your opinion on eating marijuana (foods make using cannabis oil). Though it helps with stress and there is no scientific evidence of physical harm to the body, could it still be bad for you?
Mind blowing tips. good lesson, no dought I am going die at 150 years, but i may still can swim.