healthy living

10 Unusual Things That Can Help You Live Longer

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Many strive to extend their years by following the usual suggestions: eat properly, stay hydrated, and exercise. Yet, the secrets to a long life can be broader than this basic advice. Here are 10 surprising things that might just add more years to your life.

Surviving a Recession

Although it’s challenging to find positives during economic downturns, research from the University of Washington revealed that mortality rates declined during recessions in the 20th century. 

The reduction in income led to a decrease in harmful behaviors such as smoking and drinking, along with fewer injuries at work. Who knew recessions could be so healthy? 

Being Slightly Overweight

Despite the negative connotations associated with being overweight, a study by Kaiser Permanente in Portland tracked over 11,000 adults and found that being slightly overweight could actually reduce the risk of dying. Coauthor David Feeny suggests a few extra pounds might offer older individuals some protection as they age.

Having Friends

A study by researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina suggests that not having enough friends could mean you’re 50% more likely to die. On the flip side, having a bunch of good pals can boost your life expectancy as much as ditching cigarettes can.

Being Around Greenery

Research from the University of Georgia points out the benefits of having ornamental plants, like English ivy or ferns, nearby. 

These plants can reduce stress and filter out indoor air pollutants. The study also singles out the purple heart plant as particularly beneficial for office spaces.

Eating like an Okinawan

Okinawa, recognized as one of the “Blue Zones” regions, boasts some of the highest life expectancy rates globally. If you’re thinking about embracing their dietary habits, you’ll find that the traditional Okinawan diet, although not strictly plant-based, primarily consists of whole-plant foods, making up approximately 90% of what they eat. 

This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. Furthermore, Okinawans typically consume minimal quantities of fish, meat, dairy, and eggs over the course of a year.

Winning a Nobel Prize

Bagging a Nobel Prize could give you more than bragging rights—it’s linked to living 1.4 years longer than those who don’t win, researchers say. 

Economist Andrew Oswald jokes that just walking to grab your prize in Stockholm could add a couple more years to your life. And if a Nobel’s out of reach? No worries. Just being someone people look up to can apparently help you live longer.

Living on a Greek Island…

Icaria ranks among the top five global “Blue Zones” – areas known for the longevity of their residents, where a third of the population often reaches their 90s. The Ikaria Study from 2011 aimed to explore the reasons behind this extended lifespan. 

Where You Have More ‘Fun’

It also revealed a significant level of sexual activity among older men; with 80% of Ikarian men between 65 and 100 years old regularly engaging in intimate relationships. Could it be their best-kept secret to longevity? 

Regardless, people seem to live to the fullest on Icariaisland, and for those thinking about relocating, the island offers a wide range of real estate options.

Having Curves

Oxford University research highlights the health benefits of having a larger rear end, linking it to lower risks of heart and metabolic diseases. It seems fat stored in this area plays a role in absorbing harmful fatty acids, so if you’ve got it, there’s no need to worry.

Taking Contraceptive Pills

For those not looking to conceive, taking the contraceptive pill can be ‘life-saving’ in every sense of the term. 

A study by British researchers suggests that women who took the pill for around four years have a lower risk of dying from cancer and heart disease. However, this data comes from women who started the pill in the 1960s, so it might not fully apply today.

Learning New Languages

Dr. Andrew Weil argues that picking up a new language is more than just about communication—it can also help fend off Alzheimer’s and similar age-related conditions. 

Engaging with a new language is likened to running new software on your brain, keeping it significantly sharp as you age.

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