Do This To Live Long Life
Not everyone can live to be 100, but recent studies are uncovering the secrets of living longer. In fact, the factors that contribute to extending the human lifespan are not secrets at all.
Researchers have found doing these two things regularly can add years to your life:
- Stay physically active
- Keep your brain healthy
For years, older adults have been encouraged to take these two steps, and it appears to be paying off.
Study Finds Human Lifespan Beyond 100 Years
Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York found that the maximum documented lifespan of anyone in history was Jeanne Calment, a 122-year-old French woman who died in 1997. Calment stayed active as long as she could. According to media reports, she took up fencing lessons when she was 85, and stopped riding her bicycle at the age of 100. And, on her 100th birthday, she walked to everyone’s house in her town who wished her a “Happy Birthday” to thank them.
After reviewing data from the International Database on Longevity, the Einstein scientists decided that Calment’s age was well outside the range of the reported-age-of-death data. So, researchers placed the average maximum human life span at 115 years. The Einstein scientists published their study in Nature in October 2016.
WHO Report: Physical Activity Tied To Delaying and Preventing Disease
In its World Report on Ageing and Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that for the first time in history, people are expected to live into their 60s and beyond.
Although health problems of older adults are usually associated with chronic diseases, the WHO report says many of these health conditions can be prevented or delayed when older adults engage in healthy behaviors. For example, exercise that stimulates the heart and lungs is important for preventing cardiovascular disease. According to the report, older adults—even those in advanced years—can experience “powerful benefits for health and well-being” from physical activity and good nutrition.
Keep it Moving
Exercise is safe for everyone, including older adults with heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and other chronic illnesses, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
To get the most benefits from physical activity, the NIA recommends that seniors combine four types of exercises:
- Strength Training. Using weights or resistance bands to make the muscles stronger.
- Aerobic (Endurance) Activities. Brisk walking, jogging, dancing, swimming or other activities that help to increase the heart and breathing rates.
- Balance. Standing on one foot, doing Tai Chi, or a heel-to-toe walk are examples of balance exercises that help to prevent falls.
- Stretching (Flexibility). Stretching the muscles helps the body stay limber and provides more freedom of movement for other exercises and daily activities.
Besides physical benefits, exercise also has psychological benefits as well. Regular exercise and physical activity can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Your Brain Needs Exercise, Too
Physical exercise not only helps the body but also benefits the brain. Memory, thinking skills, and other cognitive functions change during the normal course of aging. But the brain is doing wonders all by itself.
According to a 2013 study published in the journal Cell, the brains of older adults can grow new brain cells, a process called neurogenesis. Even in old age, the brain can produce about 700 new neurons a day in the hippocampus, the region of the brain that regulates emotion, memory, and learning information, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School who published the study.
Another study found that aerobic exercise, such as running, power walking, cycling, or swimming, increases the learning and growth of new brain cells in older adults, even those with mild cognitive impairment.
According to the study, published online in June 2019 in the BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, a short bout of high-intensity aerobic exercise releases a protein in the brain called a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which regulates neurogenesis.
There are other ways to keep the brain healthy such as learning something new and playing mentally challenging brain games.
Staying Active Can Help Maintain Independence
Even older adults with chronic diseases have a better chance of living longer, especially when they have support to carry out their objectives. Many seniors have family and friends to support them, but some rely on caregivers for assistance. For instance, the professional caregivers at FCP Live-In encourage clients with chronic illnesses to maintain the exercise regimen recommended by their doctors. The in-home caregivers also cook nutritious meals, accompany their clients to recreational and social activities and engage older adults in meaningful conversations.
Staying physically active is not the only way to extend your life. Eating healthy meals, drinking alcohol in moderation, and decreasing stressing are all tied to improving your well-being and living longer. With a supportive environment and the help of your physician, nutritionist, and other health professionals, you can expect to add some more years to your life.