BOOSTING your lifespan isn’t something that can happen instantly.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, told Sun Health: “Staying well and feeling well matter hugely to all of us at all stages of life.
“While there are no sure-fire guarantees to living longer, there are things we can do daily that will really help to keep us healthier as we age.”
These habits range from getting regular exercise to sticking to a sleep schedule and even making sure you speak to friends on family on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, Dr Kien Vuu, a physician specialising in anti-ageing and regenerative medicine, told Business Insider: “The good news is there are daily routines that can have a significant impact on how long we live.”
Slashing stress can be especially important when it comes to longevity, with studies linking high stress levels to shorter life expectancy.
Meanwhile, Harvard researchers recently suggested that stress can cause the body to biologically age quicker than it would naturally, with a mice showing that relaxation reduced the speed of ageing within just days after a stressful event.
All this being said, taking on a 30-minute meditation session can be daunting and it’s easy to let your mind wander instead of focusing on the task at hand.
Dr Vuu suggested clearing your mind and focusing on the present moment for less than a minute, in what he called a “micro-meditation”.
It can be as simple as focusing on your breath as you inhale for four counts, hold for seven and exhale for eight.
Dr Vuu said he does this small task every time he walks through a doorway to calm and centre himself.
2. Do a 5-minute workout
Regular exercise is a powerful anti-ageing tool – but you don’t have to do a full blown gym session every time.
Recent research found that just 11 minutes of brisk walking each day slashes the risk of an early death by 23 per cent.
Dr Vuu argued you don’t even have to dedicate as much time as that.
The anti-ageing specialist suggested working five minute exercise breaks into your work day, to help with focus and productivity.
Try movements such as squats, wall sits, or a brisk walk.
Aside from helping perk you up in the moment, exercise can also have long-term health benefits when it comes to ageing well.
“Even a small amount of movement can make a big difference.”
Choose ways that work for you and your body, she suggested.
“Outdoors exercising is said to have more benefits so you could try joining walking groups, a walk in the country or just walk to the shops instead of driving, any kind of activity is better than no activity at all,” Caroline added.
3. Focus on sleep timing than hours
Good sleep is a cornerstone of good health.
“Sleep patterns change as we get older and lack of sleep can directly affect the way we feel,” Caroline said.
The NHS recommends adults get between seven and nine hours nightly – but according to Dr Vuu, staying consistent with your sleep schedule is more important than spending extra time in bed to make up for a late night.
“The best thing you can do for your sleep schedule is to make sure you go to sleep and wake up at the same time, even on the weekend,” he told Business Insider.
For Caroline, spending a few minutes relaxing and unwinding in the evening by reading a book, listening to the radio, or having a bath, is key to improving sleep.
“If you’re having difficulty sleeping, try cutting back on daytime naps and reduce the amount of caffeine you drink,” she added.
4. Call a friend instead of scrolling
Staying connected with loved ones and friends and socialising could be the key to ageing well.
It comes after Stanford researchers suggested that loneliness could age people as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
According to Caroline, “spending time with others can help you feel more connected and less anxious”.
She recommended making time to see your family or meet new people.
“You could consider joining a local club or volunteering in your community,” she said.
But keeping in touch through phone calls and online will also do the trick, Caroline added.
Dr Vuu recommended you take a few minutes to reach out to loved ones rather than scrolling on your phone.
5. List three things you’re grateful for
As stress reduction is paramount to ageing well and improving health, another method you could try is what Dr Vuu calls gratitude practice.
He suggested taking a couple minutes daily to list off three things that you’re grateful for.
It doesn’t have to be something revolutionary – it can be as simple as being grateful for the smell of your morning coffee or that you family is well and healthy.
Dr Vuu said he does this every morning while he brushes his teeth.
How to implement these habits
A helpful way to incorporate all these small changes into your daily life is to habit stack, according to Dr Vuu.
This means taking on a new habit to an existing part of your routine rather than starting it from scratch.
“It’s easier to create a habit when you add it to something you’re already doing,” Dr Vuu said.
One of the easiest things you can stack a habit onto is teeth brushing, because you do it every day without fail.
Another might be driving to work or taking medication.
What can I do in the long-term?
Though simple habits that take just minutes can have a knock-on effect, it’s also worth implementing larger changes to your routine and attitude.
“Being positive and open, willing to try new things, and being engaged with what’s going on around us be important in sustaining our wellbeing as we get older,” Caroline said.
“Things like volunteering to help others, joining a local group of some kind or learning a new skill like a language or musical instrument are just a few examples of things worth considering if you’re looking at how to retain a sense of purpose and get the most out of life.”
But being able to do these things – and staying positive and involved – rests on maintaining good mental and physical health, Caroline said, and being “financially secure and well supported by family and friends”.
“But whoever you are and whatever your circumstances, trying to find space for some fun and enjoyment are really important factors to staying well for longer and you’ll feel much better as a result,” she added.
Caroline shared a few further tips for living a healthier life as you age:
- Do things that you enjoy everyday – whether that’s cooking, seeing friends or enjoying a good book
- Stay hydrated – drink six to eight cups of water a day
- Eat plenty of fruit and veggies to lower your risk of heart disease and certain cancers – have beans, pulses, fish, eggs and meat to repair your body after injury, starchy carbs for energy dairy to help keep bones strong
- Manage long-term health conditions to prevent them progressing or having a greater impact on your health
- Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake to no more than 14 units a week
- Make mental health a priority and get treatment for it, as it can also impact physical health
This article was written by Eliza Loukou and originally published on thesun.co.uk.