Want to add years to your lifespan and squeeze more into your life? You're not alone. Researchers are constantly on the hunt for ways we can increase our longevity, and they have come up with some pretty surprising findings. To help pave the way for a longer life, check out these seven unexpected things that increase your lifespan.
Smiling in photographs
Next time someone asks you to smile for the camera, it may be wise to heed their advice if you want to live a longer life. A study by researchers at Wayne State University studied photos of former professional baseball players and found that the bigger their smile, the longer they lived. In fact, those players with the biggest smiles amassed an average of seven more years than those with none. It is believed that this is because big smiles in photographs reflect true happiness, which is beneficial for both your physical and mental wellbeing.
Having 'positive' initials
While you may not give much thought to your initials, a surprising study by researchers at the University of California has revealed that having initials that spell out positive words (such as ACE, WOW or VIP) could add years on to your life. The study found that men with positive initials lived 4.48 years longer while men with initials that spelled out negative words died 2.8 years younger. Having negative initials most significantly seemed to impact on deaths with psychological components such as suicides and accidents, although there was a noticed increase in longevity in almost all disease categories for those with positive initials.
If you're lucky enough to have found the guy or girl of your dreams, research suggests that taking the next step and getting married could add years on to your lifespan. Being in love has many reported health benefits. In fact, researchers at the University of Rochester reported that a good marriage can be as beneficial for your heart as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and reducing high blood pressure. Multiple research studies and statistics have backed this up, showing that those who are married live longer than singletons, generally due to the fact that they have a higher income and experience less social isolation.
Being slightly overweight
While poor diets and obesity are bad news for your health, research has suggested that slightly overweight people actually live longer than those of normal weight, and significantly longer than those who are obese or excessively thin. However, David Feeny, who led one of the surprising research studies, has warned that this does not mean that normal weight people should attempt to gain weight to increase their lifespan. Experts explain that although being bigger may add a few years on to your lifespan - perhaps due to it helping to safeguard against the weight loss and frailty that often incurs in old age - that does not mean that it will increase your quality of life.
Having religious beliefs
Multiple research studies have shown that believing in God - regardless of which faith you adhere to - could help to boost your health and increase your lifespan. A study involving liver transplant patients showed that those who had "strong religious connections" were up to three times more likely to survive, even if they did not attend church. Research results published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences also showed that people who attended regular religious services were 46 percent less likely to die during the six-year study. Experts believe that this may be due to increased social ties, less risky behaviour and also the increased ability to cope with stress.
Being a social butterfly
Healthy living can sometimes seem like hard work and it seems to be rare that the things we love are good for us. However, if you want a fun way to boost your health, take note: research suggests that making regular plans with your friends can help you to live longer by reducing feelings of depression, stress and risky behaviour, and encouraging you to look after your health. In fact, a study by Brigham Young University found that having a good social network boosts your survival chances by 50 per cent, while having few friends affects you longevity as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Whether you're having a giggle with friends or watching a funny movie, laughter is guaranteed to boost your mood and leave you feeling great. However, the benefits of laughter go way beyond that. Studies have found a multitude of ways in which laughter boosts your health, including lowering blood pressure levels, reducing bad cholesterol, enhancing the immune system and helping blood vessels to function better. A seven year study in Norway also found that those who laughed most often in everyday life were 35 per cent less likely to die during the study period.
Check out these 5 fun diet and fitness alternatives for more surprising ways to boost your health.
If wrinkles, memory loss and poor posture just aren’t topping your ‘must-have’ list this year, it’s time to take action against ageing. Give your health a boost and give ageing the elbow with these top tips to look and feel 10 years younger.
Not only is exercise essential for good heart health and for keeping off the weight gain that many of us experience as we get older, staying active is also important for good posture and skin. Improving your core strength and your body’s flexibility through exercises such as yoga and Pilates can help to improve postural problems and correct spine curvature. Exercise also increases blood flow to the skin, which helps to nourish skin cells. Find the perfect workout for your body type with our perfect body shape plan
The Mediterranean diet has long been renowned as one of the healthiest diets in the world and, unlike with many faddy weight loss plans, the reported health benefits are more than just hype. This healthy diet is rich in oily fish; a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to prevent cardiovascular disease, wrinkles and joint pain and which are beneficial for your brain and eyesight. It is also packed with antioxidant-rich fruit, veg and olive oil, which can help to protect against age-related illnesses and keep your skin wrinkle-free.
If you want to look and feel 10 years younger, adopting a positive mindset can make all the difference. Not only does positive thinking cut stress (which can increase your risk of heart disease and speed up cellular ageing) but a ground-breaking experiment by psychologist Ellen Langer studied the effects of positive thinking and found that when elderly participants were treated as physically capable and encouraged to think of themselves in this way, their bodies actually followed suit. Tests showed that the men showed remarkable improvement in many areas, including dexterity, speed of movement, memory, arthritis and blood pressure, and they even had better hearing and eyesight.
Not only does smoking increase your risk of many serious illnesses, including cancer and heart disease, it is also a major factor behind many common signs of ageing. Smoking can irritate the skin and deprive it of oxygen and nutrients, leading to wrinkles and dull skin. It can also increase risk of many common eye conditions and, according to research by the Erasmus Medical School in Rotterdam, can double your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
Not only will reducing your sugar consumption help to improve your appearance by keeping off any excess pounds, it can also help to reduce one of the most bothersome signs of ageing – wrinkles. When blood sugar levels are high, a process called glycation occurs which damages the collagen in your skin, leading to wrinkles and sagging. This process also makes the skin more vulnerable to other ageing factors such as smoking and UV light. Check out these 10 ways to beat sugar cravings
Certain areas of our bodies – including our eyes, hands and neck – commonly begin to show signs of ageing before others, and these are often also the areas that are most neglected. To stay looking youthful whatever your age, make sure you pay special attention to these areas. Moisturise your neck every time you apply your face cream and apply a separate eye cream to the sensitive under-eye area. To look after your hands, try washing with a gentle hand wash and applying hand lotion after every wash. You can also give your hands an overnight treatment by slathering them with olive oil and putting on some softening gloves before you go to sleep.
One of the most visible signs of getting older is ageing skin. While this is often seen as an unavoidable part of getting older, there are many things you can do to help keep your skin looking youthful. While certain amounts of sunshine are beneficial for your health and skin, too much sun exposure is a major cause of ageing skin and wrinkles, so make sure you wear an SPF of at least factor 15 when exposed to the sun for over 15 minutes at a time. Switch to a higher SPF in hotter climates and when the sun is at its strongest.
If you’ve been choosing the same makeup products since you were a teenager, it may be time to invest in something new. While vibrant eyeshadows and setting powders may have looked great when you were younger, after a certain age heavy products can actually add on the years. To instantly look younger, make sure your skin is primed with a nourishing moisturiser, then apply a liquid foundation and blusher; steering clear of powder products which can settle into fine lines and wrinkles on the face, exaggerating their appearance. Opt for a sheer, plumping lipgloss and a volumising mascara for a wide awake, youthful look. Check out the 10 beauty mistakes that age you
Most of us lead busy lives, and this can mean that we cut back on our sleep. However, researchers believe that this could actually accelerate the speed with which we age. Researchers from the US Department of Medicine in Chicago found that the hormonal changes resulting from a lack of sleep trigger changes in the body similar to ageing, meaning that ongoing sleep deprivation could exacerbate or speed up the onset of many age-related conditions such as memory loss, obesity and diabetes. To look and feel younger, try to implement a regular bedtime routine and make sure that you are getting enough sleep.
Research suggests that frequent participation in mentally stimulating actives can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, while separate studies show that the wider the range of relationships a person has, the less cognitive decline they will experience with ageing. To keep your brain young and healthy, try to take up a hobby that will both challenge your brain and ensure that you spend time with a wide range of people. Games such as chess or cards are good sociable activities that are beneficial for the brain, or you could consider doing some voluntary work or joining a book club, writing group, orchestra or language class to stay sociable and engage your brain.
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