19 Things You Can Do in Under 10 Minutes to Live Longer
Some of the best longevity tips are the easiest. Here are the life extenders you should add to your daily routine.
Drink a cup of coffee
If you already enjoy a cup of joe (or two), you’re on the right track. While coffee gets a bad rap, there’s plenty of research to support its benefits. In fact, one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that consuming coffee daily can extend life. “Caffeine consumption is also associated with a reduced risk of diabetes,” adds Tik Pau, MD, Gwinnett Medical Center-affiliated physician, primary care provider with GMG’s Bostock Family Medicine.
Get your heart rate up
While you know how important exercise is to your health, you might have trouble getting in the recommended 30 minutes at least four times a week. In that case, sneaking in just ten minutes of a heart-pumping workout a few times a day can also be effective. “Getting your heart pumping, blood flowing, and muscles firing for even short periods of exercise is better than no exercise at all,” says Daniel Cavallo, DO, family and sports medicine physician and medical director, CityMD. This is the best workout for every age.
If you’ve yet to adopt a meditation practice, it’s time to start—even if it’s just for five to ten minutes of your day. “Meditation is important for relieving stress and is known to increase the length of telomeres, cell markers for longevity,” explains Kien Vuu, MD, Los Angeles-based interventional oncologist radiologist. “Meditation is also known to activate genes to lower inflammation and increase immunity.”
Drink a glass of water
Hydration is one of the most important components of healthy living. “Increased hydration improves blood circulation, thereby promoting the flow of nutrients and removal of waste products,” explains Dr. Cavallo. “This allows the heart, liver, and kidneys to function with less stress.” If you’re an avid exerciser, it’s even more important to stay hydrated, since good old H2O can improve muscle performance and aid in muscle recovery.
Get outside more
As it turns out, a little fresh air will do you good—and might help you score a few more years on this earth: “Spending time like hiking in the woods, walking outdoors or just being outside can lead to significant health benefits,” says Dr. Pau. “Studies have shown that moderate outdoor activity can improve blood pressure, boost mental health, improve memory, increase vitamin D absorption and bone strength, and decrease cancer risk.” Don’t miss more ways to live longer, from the longest-living people in the world.
Pick up some weights
Strength training is another life extender that only takes a matter of minutes: “One study published in the JAMA found that older adults who strength trained at least twice a week lowered their mortality risk due to any cause by a whopping 46 percent,” says Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com. “The researchers believe that this study provides strong evidence that older adults who practice strength training are benefiting far beyond gaining stronger muscles and better physical function.”
Wash your hands
This might be the simplest of things you can do to live longer, mainly because it helps protect you from illness. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, as one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others,” says Dr. Pau. “Washing your hands with soap can reduce the risk of diarrheal diseases by up to 47 percent; interventions to promote handwashing might save a million lives.” Here are some signs you could live to be 100.
Not only does dancing help keep you in shape physically, but research has found that there may be a link between dancing and mental health as well. “Researchers have found that dance is one of the best exercises for improving the structure of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that plays a key role in memory and learning, as we age,” says Lynn Anderson, PhD, ND, a naturopathic doctor and yoga therapist. “Dancing increases the volume of the hippocampus and this improves both cognitive and physical health.”
Eat smart and healthy most of the time
Your food choices are some of the most important decisions you make on a day-to-day basis. One of the simplest and quickest ways to promote healthy living is by eating healthy and “smart” foods at regular intervals. “Contrary to many fad diets that lead to weight loss fluctuation, we often see a more consistent and maintained weight loss and increased exercise capacity when adhering to a healthy diet,” says Dr. Cavallo. But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid all indulgences: Dr. Cavallo recommends allowing yourself to have cheat days. “Without allowing for small indulgences some will get frustrated and give up after straying from their diets.” Check out these anti-aging foods that might add years to your life.
Not a terrible way to pass the time and tack on years to your life, right? “Sex releases endorphins and other hormones in the body, increases feelings of intimacy and bonding and combats feelings of loneliness and depression,” says Dr. Vuu. “Staying sexually active also has physical, stress relieving, social, and mental benefits and it’s been shown to increase immunity, decrease risks of prostate cancer and heart attacks in men, and reduce stress and blood pressure—adding to longevity.”
Drink a cup of tea
Image Point Fr/Shutterstock
Tea has long been hailed as a health remedy, thanks to its rich level of antioxidants. “Tea has anti-cancerous and cholesterol-lowering properties and has been shown to protect the brain from free-radical damage and strengthen bones against osteoporosis,” says Dr. Vuu. “Also, as demonstrated in studies published in JAMA, tea also lowers risks of death from all forms of cardiovascular diseases.”
Eat spicy foods
Adding a little spice to your breakfast, lunch, and dinner will not only boost its flavor but may possibly extend your lifespan as well. Research, including one study published in BMJ that looked at 485,000 people, indicates that eating spicy foods can reduce the risk of premature death. “While researchers aren’t completely positive why these spicy peppers can contribute to life extension, the most likely reason is their active component known as capsaicin,” adds Dr. Axe.
Whether it’s reading a news article or doing a Sudoku puzzle, utilizing your brain in different ways throughout the day counts as learning—something that certainly shouldn’t stop just because you’re not in school anymore. “Not only is learning great for the brain, but it turns out it may help you live longer,” says Dr. Axe. “A study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine found that reading books regularly may increase longevity, and the advantages of reading books were significantly greater compared to magazine or newspaper consumption.” Here are 8 healthy habits that will help keep your mind sharp.
Stay in touch with friends and family
We all get busy and overwhelmed now and then, but a hectic schedule shouldn’t get in the way of our relationships with friends and loved ones—an essential asset to our longevity. “Loneliness is a problem for many people and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality,” says Dr. Rose. “What’s more: Maintaining healthy social relationships through your life has been linked to increased longevity.” Whenever possible, pick up the phone and give an old friend or family member a call—even if it’s just for ten minutes.
Floss your teeth daily
You probably hear about flossing from your dentist during every routine cleaning. But this simple act, which takes less than ten minutes, can significantly help reduce your risk of gingivitis, the inflammation of your gums that can predispose you for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. “One of the easiest things to help increase longevity is to practice good oral hygiene and see your dental hygienist for regular cleanings and checkups,” says explains Olivia Rose, ND, a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, Canada.
They don’t say “laughter is the best medicine” for nothing: According to Satesh Bidaisee, DVM, Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine and Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies at St. George’s University, laughter has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, improve cardiac fitness, and boost immunity by triggering endorphins, all of which promote a general sense of well being. “Even during the spare minutes you have in a day, make sure that you have a good laugh,” he says. “This will improve your health, and certainly elongate your life!” Check out the resolutions you can make today to help you live longer.
Avoid escalators and elevators
While it’s tempting to hop in an elevator or escalator instead of taking the stairs, or park close to a store instead of farther away, sneaking in bouts of walking and stair climbing can tack years onto your life, suggests various studies—such as this one from the University of Sydney. “Whenever you can throughout the day, set aside ten minutes to pick up the pace and walk fast,” advises Dr. Anderson. “It may lower your risk of overall mortality by as much as 20 percent!”
Eat more fiber foods
Increasing your fiber intake is an easy way to live longer by improving colon health and blood lipids and cholesterol, according to Dr. Adams. “High-fiber foods like whole-grains, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits with the skin, are all easy ways to boost fiber intake,” he says. “Fiber keeps colon cancer risk at bay and also helps our bodies naturally lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.”
Score some sunlight
While we’re constantly being told to stay out of the sun, complete avoidance of the sun isn’t the answer either. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that women with active sun exposure habits experienced a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease than those who avoided sun exposure. “Spending too much time indoors can lead to a deficiency in vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin that helps maintain a healthy immune system and protects us from some cancer and heart disease,” adds Dr. Rose. Next, find out the 100 easy habits to help you live to 100.