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Want to Live Longer? Try These Secret Little Exercise Tricks Every Day

5 little life hacks that will help you move more and live a longer life.
FACT CHECKED BY Alex Daniel
Portrait of young runners enjoying workout on the sea front path along the shoreline. Running club group running along a seaside promenade.

Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, longevity researcher, and author of The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest, knows a thing or two about living a longer life. For years he's observed how many of the world's oldest living people carry themselves throughout the day, and he knows how those tiny little decisions—many of which you wouldn't even notice unless you're looking for them—can profoundly add up.

Curious to know some of the secret tricks he's learned? In the past, he's spoken at length about many of the things he's observed while studying the world's "Blue Zones" (the outlier regions across the globe where a statistically significant number of inhabitants live much longer-than-usual lifespans)—and, most recently, on the mindbodygreen podcast. We've assembled some of his best tips right here. And for more ways to live longer, make sure you're aware of the Totally Surprising Things That Affect Your Lifespan, According to Science.

1

Sit on the Floor More

Man sitting on the floor with laptop computer in studio. Isolated gray background

"The longest-lived women in the history of the world lived in Okinawa, and I know from personal experience that they sat on the floor," Buettner previously explained to Well+Good. "I spent two days with a 103-year-old woman and saw her get up and down from the floor 30 or 40 times, so that's like 30 or 40 squats done daily."

Squatting is strongly associated with better musculoskeletal health—a key factor in lifespan and quality of life—and even for beating back Alzheimer's. According to Damian M. Bailey, Ph.D., a professor of physiology and biochemistry at the UK's University of South Wales' Neurovascular Research Unit, squatting is the single best exercise for keeping your brain sharp well into old age.

As he explained on the BBC Radio 4 podcast "Just One Thing:" "The toing and froing from high-flow to low-flow challenges the inner lining of the arteries that supply blood to the brain. We think this it's good because it realizes the good chemicals that the brain needs to grow the things it needs to grow to become more intelligent." For more great fitness tips, don't miss these Secret Tricks for Walking Better Starting Now, Say Experts.

2

When You Have Work Meetings, Make Them Walking Meetings

Young woman in sportswear having a morning exercise walking in the park with skyscrapers on the background in Frankfurt city

You can do this even if you're using Zoom, says Buettner. Simply turn off the camera and go for a walk. "I have a number of phone calls, and I just put my headphones in and I'll walk for two hours," he told the mindbodygreen podcast. And for more reasons to take your work calls on the go, know that This Is What All Those Zoom Calls Are Doing to Your Body, Say Psychologists.

3

Always Leave a Pair of Walking Shoes by the Door

Woman putting on shoes
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"This is simple, but have a super comfortable pair of walking shoes and keep them by your door," Buettner told the podcast. "That nudges you."

Put simply, walking more—whether you going for a casual stroll around the park, going shopping, or performing walking intervals on a treadmill at your gym or at the local track—is integral to your health, your conditioning, and, ultimately, your longevity. For more on this, see What Walking for Just 20 Minutes Does to Your Body, Says Science.

4

Be Proactive in Making Exercise Plans with Friends

Back view of crop diverse female athletes in sportswear walking on asphalt road during outdoor workout in outskirts

"Agree on a schedule, and that buddy will nudge you," he told mindbodygreen. "If you say, 'We're going to walk every other day around the neighborhood,' or, 'We're going to take a hike on the weekends,' you don't have to think about it. You've made the promise."

When you've made a promise to a friend, it makes it way harder to miss your workout. Also, when you actually work out, you may find that you get more out of it. For more on that, see The Most Effective Way to Work Out Every Day, Say Psychologists.

5

Don't Do Things You Don't Love to Do

Friends playing basketball - Afro-american players having a friendly match outdoors
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"I love pickleball," he told mindbodygreen, regarding his favorite workout. "I can pickleball for two hours, and I won't even know that time went by. And I've elevated my heart rate, I'm using range of motion, [and] I'm developing lower-body strength." For more amazing workouts that masquerade as "fun pastimes," see here for The Leisure Activities That Are Secretly Amazing Calorie Burners.

William Mayle
William Mayle is a UK-based writer who specializes in science, health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics. Read more
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