How to live longer: 9 things you should do everyday to add years to your life – and they take a matter of minutes | The Sun
12th August 2023

YOU can't stop the ageing process, but you can certainly try and slow it down.

Many simple daily habits have been linked with a longer life and don't require tonnes of money.

Calling a friend, reading the chapter of a book and eating a handful of nuts may all be helpful for warding off disease.

Here we take a look at nine easy thing you can do each day to add years to your life…

1. Exercise bursts

The NHS says exercise can “lower your risk of early death by up to 30 per cent”.

At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise are recommended to adults per week (21 minutes a day).

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Or, vigorous activity – anything that makes you breath hard and fast, and your heart rate high – need only be for 75 minutes a week (11 minutes a day).

One study found that as little as four to six minutes of vigorous activity spread out during the day was enough to lower the risk of dying early.

Those who ran for the bus or took the stairs – and in the process got their heart pumping – had a 40 per cent lower risk of death from any cause than those who did not.

2. Flex those muscles

As part of an exercise regime, it is recommended to do weight bearing or resistance exercise to pump those muscles.

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Dr Michael Mosley, from, told The Sun an American study found that muscle mass is one of the strongest predictors of life longevity, even more than weight or body mass index. 

Researchers followed 3,600 men and women over the age of 50 for a decade they found that those who had more muscle mass were at a lower risk of death from all causes. 

Dr Mosley said: “Strength training may even reverse ageing at a cellular level. 

“In one small but fascinating study, scientists asked 14 older people to do strength training twice a week for six months and then compared their muscles to that of younger adults. 

“They looked at the parts of the muscle cells that generate energy, the mitochondria. 

“Normally these wane with age but the older adults who had been doing strength training boosted their mitochondria levels similar to those seen in younger men and women.”

Dr Mosley suggests picking up these household objects for a quick workout.

Try these three exercises (10 reps each, for three rounds):

  • A bicep curl using a large carton of milk
  • Calf raises by pushing yourself onto your tip toes using a counter top or work surface
  • Weighted squats by filling a backpack with books

3. Eat some nuts

Nuts are one of the greatest snack choices you could make.

Aisling Pigott, a nutrition expert and registered dietitian based in Cardiff, said: “A handful of nuts is an opportunity to nourish your body with unsaturated fats (which helps protect the heart), and are often rich in protein, fibre, vitamin E, K, magnesium and copper.

"Many nuts are a great source of essential amino acids.

“Nuts are rich in vitamins and minerals – for example vitmain E plays an important role in immunity, and keeping us well as we go through the ageing process.”

One study found that women in their late 50s and early 60s who ate a couple of servings of walnuts per week were more likely to be healthy agers, with no major diseases by the time they passed 65 years old.

Aisling said: “Nuts are not individual nutrients, but packages of wonderful nutrients that nourish our body in the most amazing way.”

4. Call a friend

If the Covid-19 pandemic taught us anything, it was the importance of social connection.

A spare 10 minutes is enough time to call a friend for a quick chat, and in the process, reap health benefits.

Many studies have found a link between nurtured social lives and a long life.

For example, a large ‘70’s study of 7,000 men and women found that those who were disconnected from others were three times more likely to die during the nine-year study than those with strong friendships. 

Those with good friends and unhealthy lifestyles lived longer than those with poor social ties but healthier living habits, according to the study published in the Journal of Epidemiology.

5. Have a cuppa

Drinking tea has been shown to elongate life as well as prevent heart disease – especially green tea.

A 2020 study of people in China showed that those who drank tea three or more times a week were 15 per cent less likely to die over seven years, and had around a 20 per cent lower risk of fatal heart disease or stroke.

Brits love their tea, and a large study of half a million people in the UK found that those who had at least two cups a day had a nine to 13 per cent lower chance of death over 14 years.

It can’t be proven that tea directly wards off death. But researchers say tea drinkers can be safe in the knowledge they may be getting health benefits.

Coffee, with antioxidant properties, can also help prevent diseases linked to an early death. 

6. Read before bed

Stop scrolling on your phone before bed and read a chapter of a book instead.

A 2016 study found that book readers over the age of 50, on average, lived two years longer than non-readers. 

Published in the September issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine, the study looked at the reading patterns of more than 3,600 over 50s.

Over a 12 year follow-up period, 33 per cent of non-book readers died, compared to 27 per cent of book readers. The more hours per week the better, but as little as half an hour a day was beneficial. 

The researchers said that reading can  increase concentration, empathy, emotional intelligence and cognitive engagement, all of which are beneficial for survival. 

If you start reading for ten minutes, chances are you’ll keep going or better yet, get sleepy and get a good night’s rest.

7. Meditate

Meditation, breathing exercises and mindfulness exercises are all ways to look after your mental wellbeing, and as a result, your body. 

The benefit of these practices is that it can reduce stress, anxiety and depression.

Stress is a normal part of the human response.

But when you are constantly in a state of stress, triggered by small events such as a traffic jam, health problems may occur, for example high blood pressure, says Harvard Health.

It adds that the stress response also suppresses the immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. 

For example, a 2005 review of two studies found that when elderly people were assigned to learn various forms of meditation, their blood pressure dropped significantly in three months compared to other groups.

While many mindfulness practices are rooted in very old Eastern traditions, more evidence is emerging to prove their benefits. 

In 2021, the NHS was recommended mindfulness-based therapies as a way to treat mild depression by the health watchdog NICE.

8. Water the plants

Gardening is an activity that many experts recommend to keep fit and active, as well as reduce stress, maintain dexterity and meet other people in the community.

Gardening is now recognised as having so many benefits that in 2019 the NHS added it to its Social Prescribing list, so patients can benefit from being out in their community, connecting with nature.

Australian researchers who followed people in their 60s found that those who regularly gardened had a 36 per cent lower risk of dementia – a leading cause of death worldwide.

9. Floss

You should be brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day.

But if you really want to care for your oral health, and have a spare few minutes, get flossing to help remove plaque.

Dr Sulaman Anwar, a specialist periodontist, told The Sun: “Poor oral health is linked to many different health conditions, including heart disease, strokes, dementia, pregnancy complications – even sexual heath. 

“The mouth is the gateway to the body, all of these can be affected by your dental health regime.

“If people aren’t looking after their teeth, or they’re just brushing once per day, particularly if they’re skipping the night-time clean, they’re leaving a lot of bacteria on their teeth. 

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“At night, while they’re sleeping and not producing much saliva, that’s predisposing themselves to getting a lot of bacteria going in their bloodstream. 

“Obviously they’re going to get tooth decay, but the bacteria will also circulate around the rest of their body and that long-term ill health will be costlier for their body.”

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