How to live a long and healthy life

How to Live Longer

One of the most startling discoveries into the aging process came about in the last few years:

Most aging isn't natural

Most people are under the incorrect assumption that we grow until about age 25-30 and then start the long process of decay until death. And that getting older is marked by loss of strength, sexual appetite, bone mass, cognitive abilities and a general degeneration until we're left as tired, sickly, fragile beings at which point we die "of old age". The truth: this model of reality simply isn't true!

The aging process can be slowed and in some cases reversed!

What scientists have instead discovered is that during our lifetimes our bodies are either in a state of growth or decay and that in fact we can control this process using one simple mechanism (described below). Instead of living life where the last 50 years are a slow process of death you can live healthy and strong right until the end - which means not only will you live longer but your quality of life will be dramatically improve.

The magic of Exercise

What modern scientific studies have found is that your body is in a constant state of either growth or decay and that whether we're in a state of growth or decay is NOT due to any kind of "natural aging process".

How is this possible? Like many of our behavioral traits this phenomenon is a consequence of evolution. What scientists discovered is that in order to conserve energy animals grow during the summer (when food is plentiful) and decay during the winter (when food is scarce). This growth or decay affects all parts of their bodies including their muscles, skeleton, and internal organs.

So what is the trigger that causes either the growth or decay? I'll give you one guess - exercise. In other words as an animal if I'm running and jumping around my body assumes this is due to the pursuit of food and so will cause the body to grow. If as an animal I'm stationary my body will assume that food is scarce and its time to start conserving energy by allowing their body to decay.

This has been confirmed in experiments on humans. In one famous studies perfectly healthy people in their 20s were confined to their beds for three weeks. At the end of the three weeks their bodies had deteriorated substantially and their vital signs had aged dramatically. After a few weeks of healthy and vigorous exercise their bodies had not only returned to where they were before but actually improved!

So what does this mean?

Exercise make you grow, and lack of exercise makes you decay.

I guess that explains the healthy old guy at the gym, the 60 year old doing a triathlon, and the unhealthy 35 year old with the vital signs of a senior citizen. It's not genetics! It's habits.

What can exercise do for me?

It's been scientifically proven that regular exercise increases the vitality of virtually every part of your body including stronger muscles, stronger bones, a healthier heart, liver, lungs, and basically every other internal organ. It also leads to a decrease in the onset of almost all diseases traditionally associated with age including cancer, heart disease and diseases of the mind like Alzheimer's. Not only that but exercise actually increases your cognitive abilities (your intelligence) even more than things like daily word games and crossword puzzles.

How often and what kind of exercise?

There is no minimum or maximum amount of exercise you need to do. In fact researches have found that the more you exercise the greater the benefits. That being said, ANY exercise is better than no exercise. Walking 45 minutes a day 5 days a week will greatly improve your health over someone who doesn't get any exercise at all.

To get the most benefits experts recommend cardio 3 days a week (something that makes you sweat) and resistance (like weight lifting) 3 days a week, both of them for an hour each day. That's the goal at least, however as I mentioned whatever you can do will help. The important thing is to make it a lifetime habit - so don't burn yourself out by exercising too much and too vigorously.

It's never too late to start

This growth/decay process is true no matter what your age or fitness level. An 80 year old man confined to his bed showing signs of dementia could start exercising today and see a substantial regenerative process take place in both his body and mind.

Other was to increase longevity

The obvious things - smoking, alcohol, sunscreen, and food

Ok, first for the sake of completeness let's go over the obvious ones really quick - don't smoke, don't be an alcoholic, wear sunscreen, eat healthy, and don't live near a toxic chemical plant.

Low Calorie Diets

You may have heard that a low calorie diet can lead to a longer lifespan. Some of these diets suggest your calorie intake should be as low as 800-900 calories.

However, there is as yet no conclusive study to prove that a low calorie diet will actually slow the aging process. There are many scientists and doctors who believe in it while many others who don't. On thing is certain, you don't see many 90 year old fat people so we can probably conclude that a high calorie diet is definitely a bad idea.

My advice? If you're overweight you might want to lower your caloric intake. If you're happy with your weight then don't worry about it. Living with an extreme diet can be difficult and there is definitely a point where you need to start thinking about quality of life instead of quantity.

Low Stress

Scientists and doctors have long suspected a link between stress levels and longevity. One thing is for certain, nobody recommends a high stress level as a way to live a long life.

There are two ways to lower your stress level. The first and most obvious is to put yourself in less stressful situations. The second and better way is to learn to control your response to the day to day occurrences of life. This means recognizing when you are reacting badly to a situation and choosing to change your reaction.

This probably seems either extremely difficult or overly simplified to you, after all how can I change my natural reaction to something? Simple, every time you find yourself reacting, you simply make a different choice.

An active Social Life

One of the more interesting findings in modern longevity research is that your social life, or in other words your level of interaction with other people has a very strong effect on your longevity. For example, a person who lives in isolation is much more likely to die early than a person with a life partner. But more than that, studies have found that leading an active social life, by becoming a member of a group or organization with similar interests also increases longevity dramatically.

Find a Purpose

People who believe they have no purpose in life will quickly wither away and die. Finding a purpose or a reason to live will increase your lifespan by leaps and bounds. Depending on your current life situation finding your purpose could be as simple as finding a place to volunteer, finding a new job, or finding that special someone.