Ten Small Things That Can Add Big Years to Your Life
Author: Jennifer Marie Jordan
People have a will to survive, a desire to live a long and meaningful life. While there are certain things we can't control, there are many that we can. From little things like wearing a seatbelt to eating a piece of fruit, many of us have the keys to our own survival in our hands. And, most of the time, engaging in a few of these life preserving acts is sure to keep us afloat for a little bit longer than usual.
You don't have to be a fitness expert to know that regular exercise can increase physical health. But, as it adds weight to muscle mass and adds strength to the cardiovascular system, it also makes one of the most important additions of all: years to life.
A recent study at the Erasmus M.C. University Medical Center surveyed and tested over 5,000 men and women, finding that those who engaged in exercise - running, aerobics, yoga - almost daily added up to 3.7 years to their life. This was largely due to the fact that exercising decreased stress and interrupted the development of heart disease, the leading killer of Americans.
We all know that smoking is bad, with "No Smoking" signs recently evolving into more of a life saving plea than a simple suggestion. However, for those who have routinely engaged in use of tobacco, quitting can still sustain life, allowing longevity to butt in.
US and Canadian Researchers recently found that even after the onset of tobacco induced lung diseases, quitting smoking can still increase lifespan, adding up to five years. This was based on the findings that the mortality rate of middle-aged heavy smokers was cut in half once they decided to extinguish their cigarettes, and their habit.
Yoga, because it produces many of the calming affects of nicotine, while teaching you discipline, perseverance, self-awareness, and allowing your body to be a conveyor of positive emotions, has actually helped smokers quit.
Dogs may truly be man's best friend. They are loyal, happy, and rarely borrow things without returning them. And, going beyond the call of a "true friend," they also increase a person's life.
Several studies have shown that owning a pet lowers a person's blood pressure, increases self-esteem in children, decreases the mortality rates of heart attack victims, decreases cholesterol, decreases depression, relieves stress, and increases family happiness. Pets also make people, particularly younger people, more likely to participate in extracurricular activities. On a whole, research predicts that those who own pets will outlive those who don't by an average of seven years.
Eating wisely may seem like an improbable goal, with eating poorly often cheaper and more convenient. But, eating wisely doesn't have to be that hard. All it takes is a little planning, a little discipline, and little portions when the food is unhealthy.
Because most things are good in moderation, eating healthy doesn't mean you can never indulge in a piece of pie or a fast food hamburger; all it involves is eating fruits, vegetables, fish, and fiber most of the time, and making lapses in food judgment only occasionally.
Eating dark chocolate and drinking red wine in moderation, as recent studies have shown, may even increase your lifespan. This is because both contain ingredients that have a positive affect on the heart and the arteries.
Having Good Friends
Human beings have an innate desire to be needed and be wanted. Because of this, having friends and close confidants can increase a person's well being, and their life. The reasons for this lie in the fact that friends and partners are people we can use to reduce stress, boredom, and sadness.
This seems to be particularly true for older people. An Australian study involved researching 1400 elderly men and women for a period of ten years. The findings concluded that those who had the most close friends ended up living the longest.
The phrase "Laughter is the best medicine" may seem like little more than an old saying. But, like many old sayings, this one seems to have a bit of truth.
Studies indicate that laughter is a natural medicine, with the ability to decrease stress-related hormones. Laughing also possesses many of the physical and mental benefits of yoga, making it seem like yogic training for your funny bone. The benefits laughter offers include boosting the immune system, regulating blood pressure, increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to muscles and organs, and internal massaging.
Being Nice and Positive
Oftentimes, situations are merely what we think that are. If we think they are dire, then that thinking makes them so. Because of this, being positive and cheerful, and maintaining an optimistic outlook, can add years to life and life to years. Being nice, when it comes to life, does make you finish last, lasting longer than those who aren't.
Recently, two studies were conducted that found older men with angry and hostile personalities more likely to die before those who engaged in an unhealthy lifestyle of smoking and drinking. Along these lines, the second study revealed that those who were giving, helpful, and cooperative with others had a 60 percent chance of outliving those who were selfish and antisocial.
Meditation, an activity practiced often in yoga, has been indicated as a factor that can prolong life, health, and happiness. While disregarded as an important aspect in the early years, over the past few decades, meditation has gained ground in the healthcare profession as an activity that can greatly reduce both stress and pain.
Among the things meditation is thought to do is lower biochemical components of stress, lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, and facilitate positive emotions to the brain. Along these lines, meditation also helps stabilize the immune system, keeping it from being susceptible to illnesses and infections.
From an emotional standpoint, meditation allows people to focus on their minds and their inner beings, arming them with the self-awareness and the mental clarity that is needed to keep us all healthy.
Taking Time to Relax
It can be hard on the hectic road of life to pull over and relax. But, making a point to do so just might make your journey a little longer. Relaxation, because it relieves stress, and tension - two things that take both a physical and emotional toll - is a great way to keep yourself healthy in mind, body, and spirit.
Relaxation, because it is a calming activity, decreases blood pressure and a person's susceptibility to heart disease. By implementing certain ways of thinking and perceiving things, it helps people to use positive powers and life forces to deal with stress and the roadblocks life may put in place.
The majority of above mentioned ways to increase life have a common theme: reducing stress adds years to life. The reasons for this range from stress impacting the strain on the heart to stress making people less likely to engage in positive, life affirming activities. Because of this yoga, a practice that can greatly influence stress levels, can be a major partner in increasing the length of your life.
Yoga isn't simply exercise; it's not a practice that is solely fitness based. Instead, yoga encapsulates activities such as breathing, meditation, self-reflection, and mindfulness, a program that helps you train your brain to focus on the present moment. It also improves the flow of blood and oxygen to organs and muscles, allowing them to function properly and allowing your mind to be enriched with clarity. All of these work together to make you more relaxed, freeing your body of physical tension and emotional stress.
Yoga, additionally, because it is so focused on self awareness, empowers those who take it to not only take charge of their exercise routine, but take charge of their life, leaving them more likely to partake in activities filled with health. Taking yoga may be the first step in making a point to laugh, meditate, take time to relax, and engage in all of the activities that can add years to your life and life to your years.
About us: TWISTED is a medical yoga studio at the Center for Osteopathic Medicine in Boulder, Colorado. Twisted integrates osteopathic medicine, Hatha yoga and mindfulness practices to teach optimal balance between physical, mental, and emotional health. It aims to educate and help people to live a healthy life from the inside out. Rehabilitation programs offer a comprehensive treatment regime for the whole being, empowering each person one breath at a time to stimulate the body's natural healing potential.
About the author: Jennifer Jordan is senior editor of http://www.yogatwisted.com. Specializing in articles that not only teach yoga techniques, but also teach techniques on fulfillment and enrichment, she aims to educate students proudly enrolled in the school of life.
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