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7 Ways to Add "Years and Years to Your Life," Experts Say

Learn how to live longer from medical and health experts who share their tips. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The path to longevity is something we can all do with discipline and commitment. It's no secret that diet and exercise are the key to living past the average lifespan of 78, but there's other things in addition that help us live well into our golden years. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who share their tips on living a long healthy life. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Decreasing and Managing Stress

overstressing in kitchen

Dr. Jeff Gladd, MD, integrative medicine physician and chief medical officer at Fullscript tells us, "Decreasing stress likely plays a significant role in longevity as well. Cortisol, the body's stress hormone, tends to raise blood sugar and blood pressure which indirectly contribute to heart attack and stroke risk. A Finnish study in 2020 estimated that heavy stress shortens life expectancy by 2.8 years. Mitigating the burden of stress is unique to an individual, so there are different ways integrative practitioners help guide patients to lessening this load. Lavender essential oil has a good collection of research for reducing stress, anxiety, and even blood pressure. Another therapy to decrease stress is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a potentially powerful therapy to lower stress and increase awareness of our mind and body, in order to prevent the runaway-train of stressful thoughts and feelings that so often put strain on the cardiovascular system. There are a number of apps I often recommend to patients to try in order to build a habit of pressing pause mindfully in their day."


Quit Smoking

no smoking sign

Dr. Cherie P Erkmen, a thoracic surgeon and director of the lung cancer screening program at Temple University Hospital, and professor of Thoracic Medicine and Surgery at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University reminds us, "Cigarette smoking is the No. 1 risk factor for lung cancer. Even if you have a history of smoking, quitting at any age can reduce your lung cancer risk. In fact, in a 2018 analysis of the landmark Framingham Heart Study, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center found that former smokers who quit greater than 15 years ago have roughly the same risk for lung cancer as a non-smoker. For more information on smoking cessation programs, talk to your health care provider."


Express Gratitude

Happy young lady adult daughter granddaughter visiting embracing hugging old senior retired grandmother cuddling

Francine Waskavitz, M.S., SLP, IHNC, Owner at Longevity Coaching states, "If you want to live longer, you have to get your mind right. Chronic stress is toxic to your health. Expressing gratitude has been shown to reduce blood pressure and boost your happiness and overall mental health."


Incorporate Strength Training into Your Workout

woman sitting with dumbbell at gym

Kent Probst, personal trainer, kinesiotherapist and bodybuilder with Long Healthy Life says, "Strength training produces an enzyme that contributes to longevity.  The enzyme is AMPK. It stands for adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase.  AMPK works at the cellular level to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It also reduces your risk of cancer and helps control weight gain, just to name a few benefits.  You increase AMPK activity in your muscles during resistance exercise."


Include Fiber Rich Foods, Vitamins and Minerals into Your Diet

Woman Eats Cereal

Dr. Dave Candy, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, CMTPT, FAAOMPT explains, "Eating a heart healthy diet high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and low in saturated fat and cholesterol reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other leading causes of death."


Antioxidants Supplements

Smiling young lady looking at her vitamins

Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD says, "There are two primary causes of accelerated aging that appear on the skin; excessive unprotected sun exposure and advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGE's form as a result of sugar combined with fat or protein. This description describes most processed convenience foods like potato chips, baked goods, and ice cream to name a few. These products increase aging and also lead to poor gut health. Both of these side effects are damaging to overall health. Vitamins and supplements provide the body with antioxidants which work to counteract this damage through vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Antioxidants are plant compounds that stimulate the immune system and are also responsible for reducing inflammation by preventing clumping of blood platelets. Chronic, low-level inflammation causes oxidative stress in the body that leads to many of the chronic conditions common to Western nations. The most common of these conditions caused and / or exacerbated by inflammation include heart disease, obesity, and most notably aging."


Breathing Exercises

woman doing pelvic tilt

Niraj Naik – a certified pharmacist turned holistic health expert, and founder of the international school of breathwork Soma Breath shares, "When using a number of the core Pranayama principles, a slower rate of airflow is caused. This creates increased CO2 levels and more efficient oxygenation of body tissue levels. Despite our societal belief that CO2 is not beneficial for the body, the opposite is actually correct. In fact, ancient knowledge speaks of the amazing benefits of CO2, and explains the importance of increasing its levels to tap into our potential. 

Breathwork that Helps with Longevity

  • Cardiac health: Improves circulation due to vasodilation and growth of new blood vessels.
  • Brain health: Blood flow to organs that use a lot of oxygen is improved, like the brain. This exercise may improve cognitive function, memory, and even activate dormant parts of the brain.
  • Anti-ageing/Longevity: May activate stem cells into circulation for regenerating cells in your body.
  • Endurance: Improve fitness and stamina as you produce more red blood cells, new blood vessels, and increase blood flow to your organs.
  • Rapid Targeted Healing: Combined with additional visualizing exercises you can invoke a healing response in your body for faster healing. This is very useful if you have a cut on your body, for example.

Steps For Breathwork

  1. Do this in the morning on an empty stomach.
  2. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Place the pulse oximeter on your finger tip if you are using one.
  3. Inhale fully through both nostrils, filling up your lungs completely with oxygen. Imagine breathing into your back and expanding your abdomen and chest fully. 
  4. Then, as you get to the top of your inhalation, just simply let go. Allow your exhale to happen with no force, letting the natural weight of gravity release the air.
  5. As you get to the bottom of your exhale, breathe in fully again. This should create a continuous connected rhythmical breathing pattern. Imagine your lungs are like bellows, breathing in more oxygen to make the fire burn brighter.
  6. Do 20-30 repetitions until you feel tingly or light headed. You will see your SpO₂ levels rise up to 99% or 100%, signalling that you are fully saturated with oxygen.
  7. Then, exhale leaving no air in your lungs and hold your breath for as long as you possibly can. When you feel you have exhaled as much as you can, make a hissing sound to get the last of the oxygen out of your lungs. It may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but you will get used to it as you practice.
  8. After about 90 seconds of holding your breath, you will notice your blood saturation begins to drop fast. Take this part of the exercise gradually and slowly at first until you are able to comfortably drop your saturation below 90%. This is usually enough to trigger the positive stress response in the body. Around 80% is when the magic starts happening and stem cells begin to circulate around your body..
  9. When you can truly no longer hold your breath, take a short, quick inhalation through your nose and quickly exhale fully again, by making a hissing sound to remove all the air from your lungs. This will bring your oxygen levels down even further. You can repeat this a few times, until you feel comfortable.
  10. Do at least 2 rounds of the full sequence above.
  11. During the breath holding phase you will go into a deeply relaxed meditative state. Use this time to visualize stem cells moving around your body and going to the areas where you want new cells to be generated or healing to occur."
Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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