As an Oxygen reader, you already know that wearing out your dumbbells and stocking your fridge with clean foods equals a longer, healthier life. Chances are you’re already hitting the gym, piling on the veggies and spending all your time outside the office wearing yoga pants. You’ve got your healthy habits down.
Now, go the extra step to tack more years onto your life with these surprising strategies, all based on recent research (we promise!).
1. Spend more time on top.
Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in partnership with the Harvard School of Global Health, found that people who live at higher altitudes tend to live longer than others and are less likely to die from ischemic heart disease. There are a few hypotheses: some suggest that lower oxygen levels could activate certain genes that change the way the heart functions. Another possible reason? Since higher altitudes mean stronger sunshine, this could mean that the increased solar radiation may help the body to better synthesize vitamin D, which has been linked to reduced risk of disease.
YOUR PLAN: Even if you don’t live in the mountains, give a nod to this research by taking part in activities that involve higher altitudes, such as hiking and skiing.
2. Get a pet.
Studies show that pet owners have lower cholesterol and an increased heart attack survival rate than people without furry friends.
YOUR PLAN: Consider adding a pet, such as a dog, to your household. Incorporate your pet into your active lifestyle by taking him for runs, visiting parks and exploring new areas together. Taking a walk with your dog is also a great way to warm up your muscles before you strength train.
3. Shop more.
When researchers from Taiwan compared the longevity of shoppers and non-shoppers, they found that women who took regular trips to the store were 23 percent less likely to die during the course of the study. One possible explanation is that shoppers are more physically active and have better mental health than non-shoppers, because shopping provides a distraction from problems (if a new pair of shoes has ever taken your mind off a fight with a friend, you know what they’re talking about!).
YOUR PLAN: Instead of doing one weekly grocery run, shop for your clean staples three to four times per week. This way, you’re not only getting the freshest ingredients, but you’re also spending more time walking around.
4. Think happy.
In a review of studies published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, researchers found a consistent link between feeling positive and stress-free living and living a longer life.
YOUR PLAN: Add more activities into your day that boost your cheer: spend time with friends, get active outdoors or bake something with your favorite clean ingredient.
5. Love your leg day.
When you strength train your lower body, you gain balance and stability, which can help to reduce your risk of dangerous falls and injuries, such as hip fractures, when you get older (individuals who suffer hip fractures have been shown to live shorter lives).
YOUR PLAN: Train your lower half with exercises such as squats, seated leg extensions, lunges and step-ups.
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