Wouldn’t you like to add years to your life? If we’ve learned anything from the past year and a half, it’s that life is not to be taken for granted, because it can be taken from us—quickly, and without remorse. Armed with that appreciation, we reached out to the world’s foremost experts in life extension to ask them how to add years to your life. Read on for the top 5 ways, each of which you can add to your routine every day—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
There are a few ways maintaining a healthy body weight sets you up for a longer life. One is that weight gain, particularly obesity, shortens your life, and it’s been proven to do so. You likely know that the excess weight, and visceral fat, can lead to a heart attack and diabetes but a new American Cancer Society report, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, measured cancer cases and deaths through 2018, and found that obesity could soon overtake smoking as the #1 cause of cancer. So what’s a “healthy body weight”? Says the CDC: “If your BMI”—that’s body mass index—”is 18.5 to 24.9, it falls within the normal or Healthy Weight range.”
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Even non-caffeinated beverages were found to increase the lifespan of those studied in one fairly recent report, published in JAMA Network. “Coffee drinking was inversely associated with mortality, including among those drinking 8 or more cups per day,” said the researchers. Drinking coffee cuts your risk of liver problems, according to a study from this year. It’s also been linked to a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, prostate cancer and melanoma.
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Using sunscreen doesn’t just protect you from skin cancer, but wouldn’t that be enough? It also helps your face and body age less. Your skin is porous and thin—think of how easy it is to get a papercut. The sun’s dangerous rays can bring on disease that may not strike till later, a hidden danger in plain sight. “Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside,” says Tonya Harris, award-winning environmental toxin expert and author The Slightly Greener Method: Detoxifying Your Home Is Easier, Faster, and Less Expensive Than You Think. “That’s how long it can take to absorb into the skin and do its work. Also, sunscreens aren’t meant to last all day and most water-resistant sunscreens only work for 40 minutes in water. Always be sure to reapply it after swimming or sweating, even with water-resistant sunscreen.” Good rule of thumb: one teaspoon of sunscreen per area of the body.
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Why 30 minutes per day? The Mayo Clinic and others set that benchmark and it’s been proven to keep your heart happy as you elevate your blood flow, leading to decreased risk of metabolic syndrome, stroke, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes. Research published in the American Physiological Society has also shown that it leads to additional weight loss.
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None of us are the platonic ideal of “happy” all the time, but if you aren’t prioritizing your happiness, you are putting your life on the line. An oft-quoted study found that a “positive affect” leads to better health, while a review of 35 different studies found that “positive psychological well-being has a favorable effect on survival in both healthy and diseased populations.” If you feel you just cannot achieve that happy feeling, consider discussing your situation with a therapist. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID