The Surprising Benefits of Training in the Heat

One of the highest sweat rates ever recorded was that of marathon runner Alberto Salazar at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In the months leading up to the games, which were expected to be oppressively hot, the marathoner was put through a regimen of temperature acclimation training with the goal of helping him adapt to running in the heat.

While Salazar placed only 15th overall, the program was deemed a success, physiologically speaking—vitals taken after the race found that Salazar’s hormonal and thermoregulatory systems were completely normal. His body had compensated by causing him to sweat at an incredibly high rate—about three liters per hour, compared to the roughly one liter per hour for an average human.

Researchers have been looking at the effects of heat on athletic performance for decades, and their results have been consistently surprising. Studies have found that, in addition to an increased rate of perspiration, training in the heat can increase an athlete’s blood plasma volume (which leads to better cardiovascular fitness), reduce overall core temperature, reduce blood lactate, increase skeletal muscle force, and, counterintuitively, make a person train better in cold temperatures.

In fact, heat acclimation may actually be more beneficial than altitude training in eliciting positive physiological adaptations, says Santiago Lorenzo, a professor of physiology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and a former decathlete at the University of Oregon. “Heat acclimation provides more substantial environmental specific improvements in aerobic performance than altitude acclimation,” he says.

And in contrast to the live low, train high philosophy, we more quickly adapt to heat stress than we do to hypoxia. In other words, heat training not only does a better job at increasing V02 max than altitude, but it also makes athletes better at withstanding a wider range of temperatures.

Athletes can adapt to heat in one of two ways. The first is through incremental improvements in tolerance over time—work out in the heat a little bit every day, and eventually your body will dissipate heat more effectively. The second way is through thermotolerance, which is a cellular adaptation to an extreme heat experience, like suffering such severe dehydration after a run that you need an IV.

Essentially, if you shock your system, your body will be able to withstand greater temperature stresses later on. But successful heat adaptation is difficult—and clearly dangerous—to achieve outside of controlled settings. Lorenzo explains that performance gains are possible only when athletes elevate their core body temperature, and without careful monitoring, it’s possible to elevate your core temperature to lethal levels.

When performed safely, however, heat training can have extraordinary effects. This phenomena fascinates Chris Minson, a professor of human physiology at the University of Oregon, who studies heat acclimation responses in athletes. According to his research, heat training can expand blood plasma volume, but Minson says there also seem to be inexplicable changes to the heart’s left ventricle, which helps to increase oxygen delivery to the muscles.

In addition, he says that athletes who train in warm temperatures generally get better at regulating heat by sweating earlier, as Salazar did, or developing a colder resting body temperature.  A 2011 study by a group of researchers in New Zealand also found that overall volume of blood plasma increased at a greater rate when athletes did not drink water during exercise. While some coaches are carefully experimenting with dehydration, Minson and Lorenzo are not because it adds too much additional stress.

However, they do say that this type of training can be beneficial because it produces a higher number of “heat shock” protein cells. Ahead of Western States this June, ultrarunning coach Jason Koop worked on heat training with Amanda Basham and eventual winner Kaci Leckteig. Koop believes this type of acclimating is a good example of blending an academic concept with real-world training. But, says Koop, “at a certain level, you have to compromise training quality for the heat acclimation.

Acclimating to the heat is additional stress [on the body], just like more miles or intervals, so you can’t simply pile it on. Something on the training side has to give.” One method of heat acclimation that Minson uses with his athletes is to do hard workouts on colder days or earlier in the morning, and then start training in hotter conditions with less intensity. He is also looking into adding heat in ways that wouldn’t require an athlete to train in high temperatures at all—using hot tubs, for instance. 

All this being said, not everyone responds to heat at the same rate or with the same physiological gains, which makes it similar to altitude training in that it might make a high-performing age grouper, college athlete, or elite a little better, but it won’t compensate for intelligent, consistent training.

How to Incorporate Heat Acclimation into Your Training Schedule

When acclimating to heat, you’ll be forced to compromise training quality, says Koop. While he understands the benefits of heat acclimation, he still prioritizes smart, solid training. But if you want to incorporate heat into your workouts, here’s how he recommends doing it safely.

1. First, pick a protocol (sauna, hot bath, or exercising in the heat) that minimizes the impact on training, both physically and logistically.

2. Koop most commonly recommends that his athletes use a dry sauna immediately after running. “It doesn’t impact training nearly as much as running in the heat, and the effects are similarly positive,” he says. He often tells his athletes to not drink water during these sessions to enhance the effect. Koop recommends spending 20-to-30-minutes in the sauna, depending on tolerance.

3. Koop says that when he has his athletes exercise in the heat—either naturally or by wearing extra clothing to simulate the experience—it will be on a long, slow day for 60 to 90 minutes. The time completely depends on the athlete’s tolerance and previous experience. But he stresses to not do this on a recovery day, because heat training is an added stress on the body. Koop recommends drinking 30 to 40 ounces of an electrolyte drink per hour during these sessions  And for safety, he advises using low-traffic sidewalks and bike paths—not trails.

4. Despite the benefits of heat training, Koop reminds his athletes that running in the heat is extremely difficult and usually replaces a hard day. “You are substituting one potential gain for another one,” he says. In other words, use it carefully.

Source: The Surprising Benefits of Training in the Heat – Outside Online

Critics by issaonline

Although training in the heat offers some benefits, it does have drawbacks too.

The Mayo Clinic reports exercising in a high temperature environment can sometimes result in heat-related illness. The most common illnesses include:

Heat cramps – These are painful muscle contractions. Though caused by excessive heat, they can also occur when body temperature is normal.

Heat syncope – If the client feels lightheaded or faints due to high heat exposure, heat syncope may exist.

Heat exhaustion – This occurs when the body’s core temperature approaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, vomiting, headache, and clammy skin.

Heat stroke – If the core body temperature exceeds 104 degrees, heat stroke can occur. This results in feelings of confusion, heart rhythm issues, and vision problems. Immediate medical attention is necessary to help preserve the brain and organs. If untreated, death can result.

Heat stress and heat-related illness are a major concern. Reduce this concern by helping clients acclimate to the heat and humidity common in summer training sessions. Research reveals that the human body goes through certain changes when exercising in a hot environment. Our core body temperature increases, first rapidly then at a slower rate. Metabolic rate increases as well, especially in heat stress conditions. Blood flow is altered to transfer the heat from our internal body to our skin, where it is released via our sweat. These changes are necessary to help prevent the body from overheating.

Though the human body is good at adapting to warmer climates, heat acclimation training improves this response. This enables clients to exercise more safely in hot environments. It also improves their performance. What does an effective acclimation program look like? A study on endurance athletes found that, for those not acclimated to the heat, high intensity exercise increased fatigue and weakened performance. Therefore, a lower-intensity workout regimen is recommended. At least until the client becomes used to the heat and humidity.

Another piece of research noted that 6-7 high-heat exposures are needed to improve adaptation. Each one should be at least 30 minutes in length. If you live in an area that is not particularly hot or it isn’t summer, there are a few ways to add heat to an exercise session. These include using a sauna or working out in heated water. Wearing multiple layers of clothing will also raise the body’s internal temp.

Some gyms and fitness facilities have an athletic chamber. This is a room that enables you to raise the heat and humidity to specific levels. You might also find these rooms at universities and colleges.

Yes, heat acclimation helps boost performance. But its number one goal is to help clients avoid heat illness, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. Here are a few more safety tips that will help too:

Drink lots of water. Dehydration occurs faster in hot environments because heat increases sweat rate. This makes hydration critical when exercising in hot weather. Harvard University suggests consuming 2-3 cups of water per hour if you’re sweating a lot.

But don’t overdo your water consumption. It’s also important to note that you can drink too much water. This is called water intoxication and reduces the sodium in the bloodstream. This can cause headache, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, blood pressure rises, it’s harder to breathe, and the client feels confused.

Consume sports drinks for lengthy trainings. During longer workout sessions, water may not be enough. Because your sweat contains many chemicals and salts, these need replacing. In this case, sports drinks can replenish the electrolytes lost via excessive sweat. Sports drinks also supply a limited level of carbohydrates. This gives your body the energy it needs to continue to work out.

Avoid exercise during extremely high temperatures. If you live in a place where extreme heat is common, exercise when it’s a bit cooler outside. This limits the likelihood that you’ll suffer a heat illness. What’s the best time of day to exercise in this type of environment? Either early in the morning or later in the day.

Pay attention to the humidity. When it is both hot and humid outside, the body responds differently than in dry conditions. Specifically, humidity increases your sweat rate, which impacts your hydration. The Cleveland Clinic suggest not exercising if the humidity is over 80 percent and it’s 80 degrees or higher.

Wear the right clothing. Your body must be able to sweat to better control its internal temperature. Lightweight clothing assists with this. Wearing clothing in lighter colors is preferred as well since they don’t absorb as much heat as dark colors.

Monitor your heart rate. Heart rate increases 10 beats per minute for every degree the body temperature rises. So, wearing a heart rate monitor helps clients better identify whether their cardiovascular system is experiencing heat stress. Heart rate monitors can also signal if dehydration exists.

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How Exercise May Affect Our Alcohol Consumption

People who work out regularly and are aerobically fit tend to guzzle a surprising amount of alcohol, according to a new study, well timed for the holidays, of the interplay between fitness, exercise and imbibing. The study, which involved more than 40,000 American adults, finds that active, physically fit men and women are more than twice as likely to be moderate or heavy drinkers as people who are out of shape.

The results add to mounting evidence from previous studies — and many of our bar tabs — that exercise and alcohol frequently go hand in hand, with implications for the health effects of each. Many people, and some researchers, might be surprised to learn how much physically active people tend to drink. In general, people who take up one healthy habit, such as working out, tend to practice other salubrious habits, a phenomenon known as habit clustering.

Fit, active people seldom smoke, for instance, and tend to eat healthful diets. So, it might seem logical that people who often exercise would drink alcohol sparingly. But multiple studies in recent years have found close ties between working out and tippling. In one of the earliest, from 2001, researchers used survey answers from American men and women to conclude that moderate drinkers.

Defined in that study as people who finished off about a drink a day, were twice as likely as those who didn’t drink at all to exercise regularly. Later studies found similar patterns among college athletes, who drank substantially more than other collegians, a population not famous for its temperance.

In another revealing study, from 2015, 150 adults kept online diaries about when and how much they exercised and consumed alcohol for three weeks. The results showed that on the days they exercised the most, they also tended to drink the most afterward.

But these and other past studies, while consistently linking more physical activity and more drinking, tended to be small or centered on the young, or relied on somewhat casual reports of what people told researchers about their workouts and alcohol intake, which can be notoriously unreliable.

So, for the new study, titled “Fit and Tipsy?” and recently published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers with The Cooper Institute in Dallas and other institutions turned to more objective data about tens of thousands of American adults. All were part of the large and ongoing Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, which looks at cardiovascular health and its relationship to various behavioral factors and other medical conditions.

Study participants visited the Cooper Clinic in Texas for annual checkups and, as part of those exams, completed treadmill tests of their aerobic fitness. They also completed extensive questionnaires about their exercise and drinking habits and whether they worried about their alcohol intake.

The researchers gathered records for 38,653 participants who were of legal age and reported drinking at least once a week. (The authors left teetotalers out of the study mix, because they wanted to compare light drinkers to heavier drinkers.) Then they ran numbers.

As in earlier studies, the fitter people were, the more they tended to drink. The fittest women were about twice as likely to be moderate drinkers as women with low aerobic capacities. Moderate drinking meant the women drank between four and seven glasses of beer, wine or spirits in a typical week. The fittest men were more than twice as likely to be moderate drinkers — up to 14 drinks per week — as men who were less fit.

The researchers considered people’s reported exercise habits and adjusted for age and other factors that could have influenced the results, and the odds remained consistently higher. Fit men and some women also had a slightly higher likelihood of being heavy drinkers — defined as having eight or more weekly drinks for women and 15 or more for men — than their less fit peers.

Interestingly, fit women who were heavy drinkers often reported concerns about their level of alcohol intake, while fit men in that category rarely did. What might these results mean for those of us who work out regularly to try to stay in shape?

While they clearly show that fitness and increased drinking go hand-in-hand, “most people probably don’t associate physical activity and alcohol intake as linked behaviors,” said Kerem Shuval, the executive director of epidemiology at the Cooper Institute, who led the new study. So, people who exercise should be aware of their alcohol intake, he said, even tracking how often they imbibe each week.

Doctors and scientists cannot say with certainty how many drinks might be too many for our health and well-being, and the total likely differs for each of us. But talk to your doctor or a counselor if your drinking worries you (or worries your spouse or friends or training partners).

Of course, this study has limits. It mostly involved affluent, white Americans, and it showed only an association between fitness and alcohol intake and not that one causes the other. It also cannot tell us why working up a sweat might lead to excess boozing, or vice versa.

“There probably are social aspects,” Dr. Shuval said, with teammates and training groups bonding over beers or margaritas after a competition or workout. Many of us likely also put a health halo around our exercise, making us feel our physical exertions justify an extra cocktail — or three.

And, intriguingly, some animal studies show that both exercise and alcohol light up parts of the brain related to reward processing, suggesting that while each, on its own, can be pleasurable, doing both might be doubly enticing.

“We need a lot more research” into the reasons for the relationship. Dr. Shuval said. But for now, it is worth keeping in mind, especially at this festive time of year, that our running or cycling outings or trips to the gym could influence how often, and how enthusiastically, we toast the new year.

Source: How Exercise May Affect Our Alcohol Consumption – The New York Times

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18 Career Resolutions To Help You Improve Professionally

1

Making resolutions is usually an effective way of creating self-improvement goals. Regardless of your professional field, making career resolutions can help you plan out your career and determine how you intend to achieve your goals.

Knowing which career resolutions to make can be an important part of your future. In this article, we discuss why making career resolutions is important and list 18 potential resolutions that you can use.

Why is making career resolutions important?

The main reason that making career resolutions is important is that it appeals to the human brain’s executive function, which is a set of cognitive abilities that helps people set and achieve objectives. This means that consciously setting goals provides people with a clear vision and direction for achieving them, significantly improving the odds of success. Making career resolutions is also important because it can help you prioritize your goals based on how valuable you perceive them to be for your career.

Consider making some of these 18 career resolutions:

1. Learn a new skill

Regardless of your experience level, there are always more work-related skills you can learn. Try to identify the areas where you can improve and then acquire new information about how you can gain those skills. Depending on the situation, your organization may be willing to finance various training courses.

2. Improve your professional social media profiles

Advancing in your career may depend on the size of your professional network. One of the most time and cost-efficient ways to network with relevant colleagues and stakeholders in your field is by contacting them via a professional networking website. Doing so effectively typically requires you to update your profile with your latest achievements and actively seek to expand your network.

3. Clean out your desk and file cabinets

Having a well-organized workspace can improve your efficiency. Besides making things easier to find, it also helps you eliminate various documents and objects that you no longer use. Resolving to clean out your workspace regularly is a relatively easy way to improve workplace productivity.

4. Join a professional organization

Most professions have associations where fellow professionals can meet and share ideas. Joining one not only helps you expand your professional network but also helps you stay up to date with the latest industry developments. If you’re not sure which professional organization to join, you can ask your colleagues or search for one online.

5. Reassess your work-life balance

Being unsatisfied with how you split your time between your personal and professional lives can affect both negatively. When assessing your work-life balance, the first step is to determine what your ideal situation is and how it differs from your current one. You can also ask for feedback from friends and family, so you can get an outside perspective.

6. Get a new certification

Advancing in a career typically requires learning new skills or improving existing ones. Getting a professional certification can be a good way of doing so and it’s also an effective way of showing others you possess certain skills. Although earning a relevant certification can be expensive and time-consuming, the benefits certifications can offer your career are important to consider.

7. Stay active at work

If you work in an office setting and you’re not required to be physically active during the time you spend at work, you may risk various health issues in the long term. You can combat this and gain more energy during your work hours by finding small ways to stay physically active. Some things you can plan on doing are taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a walk every day on your lunch break or working at a standing desk.

8. Update your resume

Even if you’re well-established in your role, updating your resume regularly can prove beneficial. You can set a career resolution to review and update your resume once every year, even if you aren’t currently planning on changing jobs. The main benefit of this resolution is that if you ever consider applying for another job, you can have an updated resume available for the application process with your recent information already included.

9. Improve your communication skills

Communication skills are some of the most transferable professional skills, as they’re useful for any profession that involves interaction with other people. Improving the way you communicate with colleagues, supervisors, clients, suppliers and other people you work with can have a positive effect on your career. You can do so by making minor improvements, like being quicker to respond to emails, asking people what the status of their projects is, thanking those who help you and being more widely available for communication at work.

10. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness refers to focusing on the present time instead of worrying about the future or being concerned with something that happened in the past. Being mindful can help you make better decisions, as it can help you avoid letting irrelevant factors influence you. You can also use it to increase your happiness levels, as practicing mindfulness can help you avoid work-related stress.

11. Read more books

One effective way of increasing your knowledge base is by reading about the things that interest you . If you’re having trouble finding the time to read, making a career resolution and setting aside time for reading every day or every week can help you learn new things and develop your skills. You can use audiobooks to learn while doing other things, like driving to work or exercising.

12. Plan a tech-free weekend

Although modern technology usually helps your productivity, too much of it can cause burnout and a loss of focus. Spending a weekend away from any electronic device from time to time can help you regain focus and clear your thoughts. If you find it hard not using your electronic devices at home, consider spending a weekend somewhere close to nature.

13. Define your next career step

Although it may be difficult to plan your career because of several unknown factors, you can make a resolution to figure out your next step. Having an immediate career goal can help you focus and motivate you to improve your skills. One way to find the next step is by asking your manager how they foresee your professional advancement. If you discover that there aren’t many ways in which you can advance at your current job, you may see it as a sign that it’s time to look for new career opportunities.

14. Research your company’s goals

Advancing in your career often depends on the success of the organization where you work. Understanding what your company needs to do to expand its operations can help you determine how you can help it achieve its goals. Also, knowing what your job’s impact is on the company’s future can act as a motivational factor.

15. Improve your physical fitness

Although working on your fitness is mostly a personal goal, it also provides career benefits. Having a healthy body gives you more stamina and energy to perform your professional duties, and exercising also helps you gain confidence and clear thoughts. A fitness resolution usually has higher chances to succeed if it’s specific, meaning that it may help make a schedule for various physical activities.

16. Get your dream job

If your current job differs from your ideal role, making a career resolution and setting a timetable for when to reach your ultimate career goal can help you achieve it. Research the requirements you currently lack and make a plan to consistently work toward them until you reach the level you want. You can then inquire about job openings and recruiters that may help you get opportunities in your desired role.

17. Track your achievements

Having a positive view of your career can help you improve and plan for the future. You can make sure you remember all your achievements by making a resolution to track them in a notebook or computer file. Reviewing them once a year can help you gain more career satisfaction.

18. Take on a challenging project

You can help advance your personal career goals if you constantly attempt to challenge yourself. By doing so, you can expose yourself to various complex situations and attempting to resolve them can lead to self-improvement. You can make a career resolution to volunteer for the next challenging opportunity at work.

By: Indeed Editorial Team

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Is Walking Enough Exercise? A Cardiologist Answers

There are seasons in life when a 15-minute walk is the most you can commit to your exercise routine—and, hey, that’s 100 percent okay. Maybe your job is more of a nine to nine than a nine to five right now, or childcare is monopolizing your free moments. Whatever the case, we asked a cardiologist to answer the age-old question is walking enough exercise? And the first thing you need to know is that the simple answer is yes.

According to Michael Weinrauch, MD, a New Jersey-based cardiologist, the bottom line is that even the smallest neighborhood loop can have an immense impact on your health and well-being. “The take home point here is that even 15 minutes a day of walking, without stopping, provides benefit with regards to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality,” he says.

Morbidity refers to illness or disease, while mortality refers to death. Research has associated 15 minutes of activity with a 22 percent lower risk of death (mortality), and walking with a 43 percent reduced risk in stroke and reduction the risk factors of heart attack (morbidity), regardless of how fast your heart is beating. “Keep in mind, most of the research that has been done on the benefits of walking have been done without monitoring heart rates during physical activity.

Remember, the Fitbit and smart watch apps are still actually a relatively new phenomenon,” adds Dr. Weinrauch. Long story, short: The morbidity and mortality benefits of walking seem to occur regardless of your heart’s beats per minute (BPMs). 

“The take home point here is that even 15 minutes a day of walking, without stopping, provides benefit with regards to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.” – Michael Weinrauch, MD, cardiologist

With that being said, you can increase your cardiovascular fitness by increasing your heart rate and going longer distances—and that may offer even more benefits when it come to morbidity and mortality. “Cardiovascular fitness or aerobic fitness can be defined as a measurement of the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to its muscles,” explains Dr. Weinrauch.

VO2 Max, which is the maximum rate that oxygen can be consumed during exercise that increases in intensity, is the gold standard for measurement of fitness.” However, it’s really up to you how “fit” you want to be. If you’re someone who wants to build up your VO2 max so you can run a marathon, fantastic. And if you’re someone who’s content with a brisk walk to your favorite coffee store, that’s also great.

“The bottom line is, if you are walking to improve your health, do not worry about how high to raise your heart rate. If you are interested improving your cardiovascular fitness in addition to improving your health, then more vigorous exercise training will likely be necessary,” Dr. Weinrauch says.

It’s the choose your own adventure of fitness. And regardless of your choice, you’re still collecting those morbidity and mortality benefits as long as you clock your 15 minutes each day.

Make sure to stretch after you walk! 

Kells McPhillips

By: Kells McPhillips

Source: Is Walking Enough Exercise? A Cardiologist Answers | Well+Good

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Critics:

Brisk walking, like any form of exercise, will cause your heart to beat faster. As a general rule, the faster you move, the more your heart rate will increase. For example, running will typically cause a faster heart rate than walking at a leisurely pace. A stronger heart is just one of the many benefits associated with brisk walking and other forms of aerobic or cardiovascular exercise.

The heart just like any other muscle gains strength from exercise. A stronger heart can effortlessly pump more blood with each beat. The resting heart rate of people who regularly exercise tends to be lower because the heart doesn’t have to struggle to pump blood, People who regularly engage in cardiovascular activities like brisk walking have a 45 percent lower risk of developing heart disease than people who don’t maintain an active lifestyle, explains University of Maryland Medical Center.

Brisk walking can help lower “bad” or LDL cholesterol while raising “good “or HDL level. Walking or jogging 12 miles a week has been shown to significantly boost good cholesterol. You need to log at least 20 miles per week or about three miles per day to put a notable dent in LDL levels, explains University of Maryland Medical Center. Walking can also manage blood-pressure levels and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

By increasing your speed to a 4.5 mph power walk, at 13 minutes per mile, you can also increase the calories burned per mile. A 125-pound walker burns 77 calories, while a 155-pound person burns 96 calories and a 185-pound walker burns 115 calories per mile.

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How To Live To 100: A Definitive Guide To Longevity Fitness

At this point, we’re all familiar with the trope. A local news station visits a retirement home to celebrate Muriel’s 106th birthday. She’s deaf or blind or both or neither, sitting in a wheelchair in the “good spot” next to the TV set, and a reporter asks her her secret. You’ve lived through both World Wars?! How’d you do it? Then Muriel gets to flash a mischievous grin and tells us she smoked a pack a day for 50 years.

Interacting with centenarians in this way has long made them seem like circus oddities. It trivializes the concept of lifespan and longevity, reducing the science to a throw-your-hands-in-the-hair “Who the hell knows!” It reinforces the idea that our time on this planet isn’t necessarily under our control. If my dad had a stroke and his dad had a stroke then one’s probably coming for me too, right? If I make it to 80, or — god forbid — 90, I’ve just beaten the odds. Right?

Not exactly. Since the mid-1990s, in fact, following the infamous Danish twins study, researchers have understood longevity to be “only moderately heritable.” For a while, this spawned estimates that genetics accounted for somewhere between 20 and 30% of one’s longevity. More recently, scientists have concluded that the true heritability of human longevity at birth is closer to just 7%.

Where does that other 93% come from? Your lifestyle. Your decisions. Your everyday habits, big and small. It’s possible to put years on your life, to surge past both average life expectancy and your own expectations, by resolving to live a certain way. The crazy part? This doesn’t involve some complex Ponce de Leónian quest. You don’t even have to search far and wide for the answers.

Thanks to the efforts of vanguard sociologists, geneticists and historians, we know where the world’s largest concentration of centenarians live and how they spend their days. (They’re called Blue Zones, and the way people cook, move and even happy hour in them is truly revelatory.) We also know, courtesy of a renowned doctor with whom we spoke last year, that certain behaviors can decelerate cellular aging and push the human lifespan into hitherto uncharted territories, and also that we should probably stop eating hot dogs.

You might wonder: Why would I want to live longer? Doesn’t the end of life look drawn out, expensive and horrible? Why would I sign up for decades of suffering? Well, the latest wave of longevity research isn’t focused on living years for the sake of years. It’s concerned with quality years.

Think about it. More years to travel, to exercise, to spend time with your family and whatever new family comes along. An entire life of creativity and challenges to enjoy after retirement. And consider this: those who make it to 100 are no more likely to die at 108 years old than 103. Genetics do start to factor in a bit more once you get way up there in age (hence how the Muriels of the world make it to 106), but overall, your risk of dying from any of the usual diseases plateaus. Longevity wizards only really suffer in the last couple years of their lives.

Take note — this movement is going to happen, with or without you. With an assist from modern medical care, scientists project there will be 25 million centenarians scattered across the world by 2100. (There are currently just 573,000.) But you don’t need to wait for Benjamin Button patents from the big pharmaceuticals. You can start living in the name of longevity today.

Below, 100 ways to live to 100, broken down by how you optimize your lifespan through diet, fitness, good choices and some truly wild wild cards. Before diving in, understand that you can’t do all of them; some of them are likely even incompatible. But the idea is to cherrypick those that work for your life. Ultimately, if nothing else, know this: making the call right now to act in the name of longevity — whether your “right now” is 35 or 65 — won’t just add life to your ledger. It’ll enrich and lighten every year along the way.

DIETARY DECISIONS

1. Eat fresh ingredients grown nearby

The planet’s longest-living communities all have access to food from farms and orchards down the road — that’s to say, within a 10-mile radius of their homes. These ingredients aren’t treated with pesticides or pumped with preservatives; they’re their original nutrient-dense, fiber-rich selves. Sound expensive? So are late-life medical bills.

2. Eat a wide variety of vegetables

So you’ll eat carrots, beets and cucumbers and that’s it. Okay. But if you want to unlock your true longevity potential — and lower your risk of everything from cardiovascular disease to macular degeneration — you need to regularly cycle through the whole menu: cruciferous veggies, dark leafy greens, edible plant stems, roots and marrows.

3. Eat until 80% full

Hara hachi bu is a Japanese saying that translates to “Eat until you’re 80% full.” It’s an alien concept in America, where portion sizes are the biggest in the world and somehow getting larger. But finding your “slightly full” will directly reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease or stroke while giving your body more energy and less bloating in the short term.

4. Eat home-cooked family dinners

As the godfather of nouvelle cuisine, Chef Fernard Point, once famously said: “Butter! Give me butter! Always butter!” Restaurants want customers to leave happy, so they use lots of flavor — salt, sugar and fat. It all adds up. According to one study, eating out twice a day increases your chance of an early death by 95%. Cooking is your best bet.

5. Embrace complex carbohydrates

The bread aisle is a starting point for understanding the difference between foods rich in simple carbohydrates (Wonder Bread) and those rich in complex carbohydrates (100% whole-wheat breads). The latter, for instance, rocks a ton of fiber and fuels the body in a sustainable way. Seek out more complex carbs like brown rice, oats and barley.

6. Consider a plant-based diet

You don’t have to give up meat. But you should know that societies full of centenarians don’t eat very much of it. While meat dominates most American meals, it only appears in Blue Zone diets at a rate of five times a month, two ounces per serving. And when it does, it comes sourced from free-range animals that weren’t treated with hormones or antibiotics.

7. Substitute meat with fish

Keeping fish in the rotation not only takes pressure off your veggie cooking skills — it’s also a huge life-expectancy boon. One study found that “pesco-vegetarians” (who eat up to three ounces of fish daily) live longest, aided by omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. If you can, aim for non-farmed, mid-chain fish like trout, snapper and sardines.

8. Try not to eat just before bed

Your last meal of the day should be your smallest, and shouldn’t be eaten within three hours of heading to sleep. If you’re constantly pining for a huge dinner or bedtime snack, you’re probably not fueling properly throughout the day. It’s stress-eating dressed up as a reward, which leads to indigestion in the near term and weight gain over time.

9. Let yourself feel hunger

Don’t get bogged down with YouTube videos on “the right way to intermittently fast.” As renowned Harvard geneticist Dr. David Sinclair told us: “We don’t know the best method. We do know that if you’re never hungry,  if you’re eating three meals a day and snacking in between, that’s the worst thing you can do. It switches off your body’s defenses.”

10. Eat dark chocolate

Most people have heard this one. Dark chocolate is no elixir on its own, but cacao tree seeds are part of a family of environmentally stressed plants that “activate longevity pathways in other organisms when consumed.” Replace your cookies and cupcakes with a little square from time to time to reap the rewards of flavanols and resveratrol.

11. Make more PB&Js

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are having a moment. A few years ago, ESPN devoted a profile to the NBA’s “secret addiction.” Tom Brady revealed not long after that the PB&J is his pregame meal of choice. And this year, a study concluded that the sandwich can add 33 minutes to your life. Remember to use whole-wheat bread and all-natural jelly.

12. Eat more beans

The backbone of the centenarian diet. Beans are high in fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, potassium and B-vitamins, and low in fat and calories. They fill you up as well as meat and cook easy (serve them on their own with olive oil and a bit of sea salt, or put them in a burrito or salad). David Buettner calls beans “the world’s greatest longevity food.”

13. Eat more nuts

Sure, you’ve heard it forever. That doesn’t make it any less true. One massive study that assessed nut consumption in approximately 119,000 Americans over 30 years found that regular nut-eaters (think a handful or two of almonds a day) reduced their risk of dying from cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease by 20%.

14. Cook with olive oil instead of butter

Olive oil giveth, butter taketh away. While butter increases “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood (low-density lipoproteins), olive oil is a longevity rockstar — in one study, people in the highest quintile for ingesting olive oil’s polyphenols lived an average of 9.5 years longer after the age of 65. Just make sure you’re buying extra virgin olive oil.

15. Put a cap on fun foods

You don’t have to ban salty and sugary treats from your life forever, but recognize that — in order to avoid empty calories and reduce your risk of heart disease — they can’t happen every time you have a tough day at work. That’s a self-defeating choice. Save them for the right time and place, like special celebrations, when you’ll appreciate them the most.

16. Eat slowly

For one, choking to death would really hamper your longevity goal (about one in 2,500 people die each year from choking). But slowing down while eating is also a great way to avoid overeating. Remember — it takes up to 20 minutes for the stomach to process what you’ve eaten. Take deliberate bites. Honor the meal and the effort it took to make it.

17. Drink more water

Here’s the rule: your optimal H20 per diem is one-half ounce to one ounce of water per pound of body weight. A 180-pound male, then, should aim for a little over 11 cups of water over the course of his day. There’s no need to exceed that (you’ll just piss it out), but reach it with regularity and your body’s command centers will repay you in kind.

18. Drink red wine at 5:00 p.m.

Like dark chocolate, red wine comes from a plant source that is rich in cholesterol-lowering flavanols. Some are wary of linking longevity to alcohol, but learning to moderately drink red wine can also recalibrate your relationship to the drug. Having a glass (keep it under three) at the end of the day, preferably with friends, is a stress-relieving behavior.

19. Drink tea every day

Green tea pops up everywhere in lifespan research. One famous study found that drinking the stuff three times a week pushes back your risk of “atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.” If you’re a fan, take up to two cups a day. It makes sure those “cardioprotective” polyphenols stay in your body long-term.

20. Coffee is also a good idea

A stimulant with side effects like jitters and trouble sleeping can help us live longer? Indeed. The chemical compounds in coffee aside from caffeine — a wealth of antixodiants — have a positive impact on mortality, especially when consumed in copious amounts. Drinking multiple cups of coffee each day can help stem chronic diseases from Type 2 diabetes to Parkinson’s.

21. Try the Mediterranean Diet

If you pick up some of the dietary habits above — eat locally, sub fish, use olive oil — you’re already well on your way. Nutritionists are rightfully skeptical on today’s litany of fad diets, but the Mediterranean diet remains well-respected for its capability to alter microbiomes, improve cognitive function, limit risk of heart disease and promote longevity.

22. Let food be

We want food that fits our wacky preferences (separating yolks to make egg whites), has a lot of flavor (peanut butter with added sugar) or would look good on TikTok (deep-fried macaroni and cheese casseroles). But these concepts don’t square away with the traditions of long-living communities, who treat and cook whole foods as they’re naturally cultivated.

23. Stop drinking cow’s milk

Why can’t 68% of the global population digest cow’s milk? We’re not supposed to drink it. Milk — and dairy, at large — is too high in fat and sugar to justify its long-time anointment as the best place to turn for protein and calcium. At the very least, cow’s milk has no impact on longevity, so feel free to sub it for a more environmentally friendly alternative.

24. Know it’s never too late

One month of healthy eating will confer immediate results in the realms of cell regeneration, decreased inflammation and improved digestion. Starting young is great, but it doesn’t matter how old you are. Meet with your doctor beforehand to get your bloodwork done. Then come back after and note the changes, specifically in vascular health.

25. Stick to your dietary changes

Your body will rebel once you ditch your unhealthy ways for a few days. It will undoubtedly feel easier to go back to butter, processed foods and the two vegetables that you actually like. But note all the positive little changes — from your trips up the stairs to your trips to the bathroom. Eating healthy will change your life, then let you live more of it.

26. Sleep more than seven hours a night

Quality sleep is non-negotiable if you want to live a long, healthy life. Entertain a pattern of undersleeping, and exhaustion will seep into everything you do: exercise, diet, interpersonal relationships. Sleeping five hours a night doubles your risk of death. Try to log seven, and keep it right there. Too much sleep isn’t great for longevity, either.

27. Practice yoga

No surprises here. Yoga slows down the effects of stress on cellular aging. Multiple studies (see here and here) have sung the praises of just three months of dedicated yoga. The combination of physical effort, breathwork and meditation slows the tide of inflammation while balancing hormones (like cortisol) that cause chronic stress.

27. Meditate for 15 minutes a day

Even if you can’t commit to an intensive yoga practice, finding time each day to “quiet” your brain is likely a life-extending habit. When we stage personal interventions to decrease brain activity, the brain increases activity of RE1-Silencing Transcription factor, a protein that “allows the brain to function at a higher capacity with less strain.”

28. Schedule an annual physical

“Physician-dodging” is a disturbing status quo for men between the ages of 35 and 54. Only 43% of that middle-aged cohort reported seeing their doctors for annual physicals. Blame it on busy-ness (or more likely, a mix of toxic masculinity and unacknowledged vulnerability), but too often men are late to diagnoses and die earlier because of it.

29. Start strength training

“Functional fitness” takes on an entirely new meaning by age 70, at which point most of us have a lost a quarter of the strength we had at 30 and struggle to perform basic tasks. In fact, people with low muscle strength are 50% more likely to die earlier. Start strength training early and focus particularly on grip strength, which will aid you best in old age.

30. Move every day

Walking for just 11 minutes each day can tangibly protect the body from the mortality risks of hours spent sitting in front of a computer. Leaving the house for a walk each day — like drinking tea and eating beans — is something all Blue Zone communities share. Find a time of day that works for you and pencil in a daily constitutional, rain or shine.

31. Optimize your workplace

A dose of reality on all the longevity chat: most of us aren’t herding goats on a bluff over the Aegean. We spend most of the day answering emails. Within that less-than-ideal situation, make sure your screen is raised to eye level, your back is set against an ergonomic chair and your feet are planted against the floor. Spinal health is critical as you age.

32. Keep an active sex life

Or at the least, an active orgasm life, especially as you age. One Welsh study of men between the ages of 45 and 59 discovered that a “high orgasmic frequency” can lower mortality risk by as much as 50%. Regular sex with a partner, meanwhile, reduces stress and risk of prostate cancer, while lowering blood pressure and improving mood.

33. Hang from a bar for one minute a day

In the “text neck” era, a daily dead hang will bring mobility back to your shoulders. The practice decompresses the spine and builds strength in the upper back. One minute at a time is really hard, so feel free to break the challenge into multiple increments. Oh, and don’t be surprised when the move improves your grip strength, too.

34. Turn the volume down

Damage done to the ossicles is irreversible. Train yourself to listen to AirPods and the like on low volume. Pumping 90-decibel noise (80% of an iPhone’s allotted volume) into your ears for just 10 minutes will put you on the path to tinnitus. The effect this has on quality of life is likely why people with extensive hearing loss die earlier.

35. Breathe through your nose

When we breathe through the nose, the nasal passageway humidifies and pressurizes the air. It produces nitric oxide, a molecule that “screens” air particles before they make it to the lungs. Once there, the lungs have an easier, more efficient time circulating oxygen throughout the body. This isn’t an easy switch (more than half of Americans breathe through their mouths), but it’s worth it — the practice can increase lung capacity, which improves cardio-respiratory function.

36. Relax your jaw

“Bruxism,” also known as teeth grinding or jaw clenching, is a natural response in an age of constant anxiety, but it leads to terrible sleep and even tooth fractures. When you’re stressing, take extra care to put space between your teeth and focus on your breathing. And while sleeping, consider a nighttime mouth guard.

37. Exercise in the cold

Cold-temperature exposure turns white fat (the inflammatory fat linked to heart disease) into brown fat (the naturally occurring fat that produces heat) though a process called thermogenesis. Basically, your body has to burn more energy to stay warm, which jumpstarts your metabolism. Norwegian research suggests 120 minutes outside a week in winter.

38. Get off the toilet

According to the “hydromechanics of defecation,” it takes the average person only 12 seconds to do his or her business. But men often linger in the bathroom, to the point that it’s played for laughs in sitcoms. The habit is less than ideal: stretching across the seat inflames the veins of the anal canal and over time can lead to hemorrhoids.

39. Use sunscreen

When melanoma metastasizes, the five-year survival rate nose-dives from 99% down to 25%. Here’s an even crazier statistic: between 1995 and 2014, 60% of those who died from head or neck melanoma were men between the ages of 15 and 39. The sun is no joke; it can snatch life away early if you aren’t using sunscreen and scheduling regular screenings.

40. Take power naps

Careful — napping for more than an hour in the middle of the day has been linked to all-cause mortality. But a 15- to 30-minute “power nap” actually increases cognitive ability and alertness. It solidifies memories in the brain, relieves stress during an exhausting day and energizes afternoons for exercise or social interaction.

41. Pick up HIIT

One of the beauties of modern exercise? It can be quick. Like, really quick. In the past decade, studies have extolled the benefits of exercising for 15 minutes, four minutes … even four seconds. The rationale remains the same throughout: high-intensity, “all out” bursts of physical effort foster muscle growth, clean up arteries and put years on your life.

42. Learn to play again

The only thing that’s inherently “childish” about playing is that children are more likely to do it.  Playing, in whatever form it may take — tennis, pick-up hoops, chasing your kids with a super soaker — is essential for mental health at all ages, and a crucial deviation from exercise measured solely in pain and progress.

43. Worry less about weight loss

Wait, shouldn’t we make weight loss a priority? The issue’s a bit more nuanced. Studies indicate that overly stressing about weight loss often leads to “weight cycling,” defined as a process of losing weight only to regain it all over again. This strains the body. Focus on building sustainable practices instead of aiming to shed fat from your frame.

44. Screen for cancer regularly

This one piggybacks on both the issue of physician-dodging and the need for sunscreen. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, with lung, colon and liver cancer accounting for the most deaths. It’s imperative that you take it seriously. Start screening regularly at age 45.

45. Make sure to floss once a day

There’s a reason dental hygienists get so terse when you admit to only flossing “once in a while.” Flossing doesn’t just prevents gum disease. It can stop heart disease. When bacteria gets into the bloodstream through the mouth, arteries narrow in an immune response. This taxes vascular health. Flossing for two minutes directly influences life expectancy.

46. Practice sleep hygiene

That doesn’t refer to washing your sheets once a week. Sleep hygiene is “an upkeep of behaviors that help you sleep.” Essentially: treating the process around sleeping as sacred. Learn to keep a calm, cool, uncluttered, sleep-only bedroom and follow methods (from shutting down caffeine intake to getting blackout curtains), that shorten your sleep latency.

47. Start running

Running helps people live longer. That much is clear. But researchers concluded recently that the pace and distance of your run doesn’t necessarily matter. Any sort of running routine (up to four-and-a-half hours total per week) will lead to a 30% reduced risk in all-cause mortality. FYI: going over that amount won’t cause any harm. Just be wary of injuries.

48. Get into swimming

In the battle of cardio routines, though, swimming might take the cake. The activity is perfect for aging: it’s low-impact, burns a ton of calories, works the whole body and encourages flexibility. No wonder that over one 32-year study, swimmers were an amazing 50% less likely to die than regular walkers and runners. Time to fish out the goggles.

49. Forget the six-pack

Listen: chasing a six-pack is a waste of time that has no bearing on how long you’ll live on this planet. Overworking “show muscles” too often comes at the expense of a functional, full-body routine. Double down on a diverse workout scheme and a diet without non-processed ingredients and you’ll naturally arrive at a tighter core, anyway.

50. Ask for help

Recruiting a family member or friend for advice on your fitness journey — or hiring a personal trainer or scheduling a consultation with an exercise physiologist — is not a sign of weakness. It’s the ultimate sign that you’re ready for change, committed to turning your life around and determined to get more life out of it in the process.

51. Don’t ride a motorcycle

Motorcycles look great, but their mortality numbers don’t. According to the NHTSA, motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to have a fatal accident than car drivers. Even survival comes with a cost: 96% of motorcycle accidents result in injury.

52. Don’t take up BASE jumping

One of the bleakest databases you’ll ever see? The BASE fatality list. BASE jumping carries a risk up to eight times greater than skydiving. Its even more dangerous cousin, meanwhile — wingsuit flying — has a rate of one death per 500 jumps. Unsurprisingly, virtually everyone involved with the sport has a friend who died young.

53. Don’t eat processed foods

Foodstuffs with added sugar, sodium and fat are killing us all. Processed food isn’t supposed to be easy to give up (it comprises over half the “dietary energy consumed” in the United States and United Kingdom). But it’s critical that you cut back. Frozen pizzas, mayonnaise, Oreos and the like drastically increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

54. Don’t take hard drugs

Aside from the obvious in-moment risk of overdose (deaths from opioids and psychostimulants have been going up since 1990), chronic and high-dose drug use decelerate dopaminergic function. In simpler terms: most of the things you rely on for healthy living — motor control, motivation, arousal, etc. — become seriously compromised over time.

55. Don’t ingest tobacco

Not to sound like an elementary school health teacher, but it really is this simple. Right behind diet, tobacco use is the leading cause of “premature, preventable death” in the United States. And while we normally associate cigarettes with lung cancer, nicotine use can also cause cancer in the throat, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder and cervix.

56. Don’t smoke e-cigarettes

The majority of e-cigarettes have nicotine in them, but all of them have chemicals that will irritate your lungs. Consider: they contain propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin (which are toxic to cells), acetaldehyde, formaldehyde (which can cause lung or heart disease) and acrolein (a herbicide that’s usually used to kill weeds).

57. Don’t binge drink

The CDC: “A a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl or above.” Think seven drinks or so per binge, with several binges a month. Health experts unilaterally agree that this is a bad idea. One study even determined that drinking 25 drinks per week at age 40 can shorten life expectancy by up to five years.

58. Don’t eat hot dogs

Twitter had a lot of fun with this one, but it’s actually true — according to a recent University of Michigan study, eating a hot dog takes 36 minutes off your life. That doesn’t exactly compare to a single hit of heroin (24 hours off your life!), but it could put you in a bad cycle of salty, highly processed “meat.” Avoid them, or save solely for the odd ballgame.

59. Don’t have unprotected sex

While STIs are most definitely not more fatal than traveling in a car (as one group of volunteers misestimated in a study), they can cause infertility, urinary tract problems and half a dozen different cancers. Not to mention: unprotected sex can bring overwhelming mental stress to an activity that otherwise helps us stay healthy and happy.

60. Don’t drive under impairment

Every hour, someone dies from a drunk-driving incident in America. That’s over 30% of annual road deaths in the country. Even if you’re a responsible driver, remember to prepare for those who aren’t (always wear a seat belt!) and assess other ways you engage in distracted driving. Sending one text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds.

61. Don’t live in the middle of nowhere

Living close to nature decreases your risk of depression and obesity, indirectly adding years to your life. But there’s such a thing as too much solitude. Rural living can also mean a repressed social life, too much time in the car, relying on Walmart for food, fending for yourself during natural disasters and traveling over an hour for emergency medical care.

62. Don’t blindly pop OTC pills

We’re so accustomed to taking corner-store drugs like Tylenol and Advil that we can forget they’re, well, drugs. Always follow capsule instructions to a tee. The former contains Acetaminophen (which can cause liver issues in high doses), while the latter is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (which can cause gastrointestinal bleeding when taken improperly).

63. Don’t overeat

Calorie restriction can play a small part in adding years to your life, but unchecked calorie intake plays a very loud role in taking them away. The average American eats 3,600 calories a day (up nearly 25% from the 1960s), and the national obesity rate sits at 42.4%. Obesity coincides with common comorbidities like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cancer.

64. Don’t eat more protein than you need

The scientific research on this is pretty clear, as much as it may shock the biggest guy at your gym. A reduced protein intake “plays a critical role in longevity and metabolic health.” Most American men currently average twice the amount of protein they actually need in a day. That comes with too much IGF-1, a growth factor that accelerates aging.

65. Don’t stay in a stressful job

A study published in 2015 found that sticking with a tough job — with an unreasonable boss, little social support or looming layoffs — can literally take two years off your life. A paycheck is a paycheck, but when a job starts exerting massive mental stress over you, the body can’t tell if the initial trigger is mental or physical. It’ll fall apart either way.

66. Don’t hold a grudge

Happy people live longer. Improve your happiness by practicing “epistemic humility,” an intellectual virtue predicated on the idea that one can ever know something for sure. It’s meant to help us admit our imperfections and forgive others. Sounds too good to be true in the 2020s? All the more reason to give it a try.

67. Don’t blame your genes

When less than 25% of your genetics are accountable for your personal longevity, it doesn’t make much sense to deterministically pin your fate (or blame your behaviors) on what happened to your parents or grandparents. Learn your familial risks, yes, but approach your daily actions and decisions with confidence and hope.

68. Don’t sit around all day

Online publications really ran with the “sitting is the new smoking” tagline. Not quite, but sitting should be taken seriously as a public health issue. American adults sit seven hours a day, which disrupts the body’s ability to break down body fat, slows metabolism and elevates blood pressure. Get moving, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.

69. Don’t doomscroll

New phrase for you? Doomscrolling is “excessively scrolling through news or social media feeds looking for negative updates.” It’s at the intersection of smartphone addictions, a terrible news cycle and our primordial need to anticipate danger. But this sort of behavior wreaks havoc on your mental health and (unsurprisingly) never solves anything.

70. Don’t binge-watch Netflix

A full eight years ago, 61% of Netflix users admitted to binge-watching content on the platform. We’ve added five major streaming services since then; each has a revolving door of content and most employ hyped full-season releases. While cranking through episodes feels like a reward, it causes eye strain, backaches, weight gain and sleep deprivation.

71. Don’t binge on screentime

American adults spend up to six hours on their phones each day. Some of those hours are spent doomscrolling, others pushing back sleep (66% of adults bring their phones to bed), and far too much of it involves poring over the airbrushed life updates of others. Little wonder Instagram has been likened to addictive painkillers by reputable researchers.

72. Don’t play American football

The “Should you let your kids play football?” became a culture war topic in the early 2010s on the heels of unprecedented CTE research. Honest answer: probably not. At least, avoid the full-contact version of the game, which has the highest concussion rate outside of rugby and can cause irreversible damage to the brain.

73. Don’t fool around in National Parks

Or state parks. Or the woods behind your house. Or any public lands where you can hike, swim and camp without a professional ranger on hand to help at a moment’s notice. People die constantly from drowning, falls, exposure, animal encounters … selfie sticks. The issue is more relevant than ever, as novice hikers flock to nature in the pandemic era.

74. Don’t mess with firearms

There are 120.5 guns for every 100 people in America. An insane 73% of homicides involve a gun.The disturbing truth is you can easily find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time in this country. Still, the least you can do is keep guns out of your home: 27,000 people go to the hospital for accidental firearm injuries each year.

75. Don’t ignore air quality

Dirty air kills more people than all transportation accidents and shootings combined, accounting for the premature deaths of one in every 25 Americans. Train yourself to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the weather app on your iPhone. Anything over 100 means the air “is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.” Your run can wait until tomorrow.

76. Check your household products

We knew we hated shampoo. Chemicals called phthalates are found in shampoos, fragrances, cleansers and plastics. When they get into the body, they reduce the body’s stress hormone cortisol, meddle with metabolism, negatively affect the reproductive system, and can lead to extremely preventable premature deaths.

77. Live with a purpose

The Okinawans say ikigai, the Nicoyans in Costa Rica say plan de vida. Each phrase translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Finding that “why” can feel random and frustrating, but it often brings people to pursuits and causes outside of themselves. And — science backs this up — once you believe your life matters, you get to live more of it.

78. Manage negative thought loops

Negative thought loops trick us into thinking we’re being productive (we psychoanalyze uncomfortable memories, prepare for imaginary dangers, relitigate life decisions), but in reality we’re just willingly drowning ourselves in a puddle of anxiety, activating a hormone-fueled “fight or flight” response that can’t be addressed in the given moment.

79. Have a plan after retirement

Not necessarily a financial plan, though that’s also a good idea. One surprising study displayed that working longer can help people live longer. Remember, jobs can be real-world lifelines for many — they offer social engagement, days out of the house, challenging projects. It’s important to have goals and communities for filling your time after retiring, too.

80. Pick up “forest bathing”

In Japan, shinrin-yoku refers to “forest bathing,” or the act of taking in nature using all of your senses. Recent studies show adults spend 93% of their time indoors, which takes a toll on mental health (“stir crazy” is scientific). But the exact opposite is true for spending time outdoors. A single forest “bath” decreases scores for depression, fatigue, anxiety.

81. Settle down near a body of water

Take a look at a map of the world’s Blue Zones. Each is concentrated along a coastline. Settling down by the sea — in a so-called “blue space” — has been linked to a 17% reduction in mortality rate. One study suggested that living within 250 meters of a seaside environment helps reduce stress levels, with the smell and sounds offering a “wonderful tonic.”

82. Play board games

People who regularly play non-digital games are more likely to score well on memory and thinking tests in their 70s, a study determined in 2019. Games like cards, chess and crosswords aren’t just stress-relievers; they aid in cognitive function and slow down cognitive decline. Fortunately, that holds true if you come to them later in life, too.

83. Join a team

Team sports are a longevity motherlode. They combine consistent social interaction, vigorous exercise and play, all of which convey dynamite benefits for your physical and mental health. One study even discovered that making an adult soccer league your primary mode of exercise (over solo activities like jogging) could add five years to your life.

84. Tell the truth

Another reason not to get into politics — lying takes years off your life. The emotional stress that comes from telling mistruths often manifests as physical stress. Whatever the momentary reward, lying increases your risk of anxiety and depression, can sabotage relationships over time and shatters your self-esteem.

85. Listen to live music twice a month

Take the fortnight frequency with a grain of salt (it comes from a study commissioned by British entertainment operator O2), but we do know that live concerts are mindful, socially rich experiences. Assuming you don’t need to binge drink or trip on acid every time you attend one, plugging concerts into the calendar each month is a great idea.

86. Take colder showers

Make like Ian Fleming’s James Bond and finish your showers with an ice-cold “Scottish” rinse. Up to a minute (after a morning workout) is best, if you can handle it. The ritual will lower blood pressure, stimulate your immune system and can even hack your mood, releasing happy neurotransmitters like dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine and serotonin.

87. Read before bed

According to one study from the Yale University School of Public Health, “people who read books for at least 30 minutes a day live nearly two years longer than non-readers.” Reading lowers heart rate and eases tension in the muscles, fosters empathy (especially if you’re reading fiction) and helps defeat insomnia. Start with a chapter a day.

88. Keep a journal

Personal journal-keeping can predict an astonishing 53% reduction in all-cause dementia risk. The action boosts your “cognitive reserve” in the long term while sharpening memory in the short term. Oh, and, taking notes with pen and paper is crucial; it makes it easier to summarize and retain information than taking notes with computers.

89. Embrace behavioral activation

The phrase refers to performing an activity that necessitates  presence of mind. Think: cooking, gardening, walking the dog. While these sound like chores, they’re actually back doors to positive thinking and productivity. It’s an effective treatment for depression and other mood disorders, whereas languishing only worsens symptoms.

90. Avoid social jetlag

Social jet lag occurs when the body’s sleep-wake cycle is suddenly thrown out of whack. When you choose to stay up late on a Saturday, you’re pushing the “midpoint” of your sleep forward. You then have to scramble back to your usual internal clock in time for Monday morning, which affects everything from body temperature to metabolism.

91. Learn a language

Similar to “eat a bowl of almonds,” we’ve all heard this one. But it’s also absolutely true. Bilingual brains age slower than monolingual brains, delaying neurological diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s never too late, and don’t stress if fluency feels out of reach — the simple act of learning and studying a second language has a positive impact on the brain.

92. Show up to events

Researchers are convinced: “Social connections are probably the single-most important feature of living a long, healthy, happy life.” Showing up to functions with family and friends (as opposed to stressing out and skipping them) proves you can be a light, reliable presence in other people’s lives. The invites will keep coming, and you’ll be better off for it.

93. Maintain friendships

Swimming in centenarians, Sardinia was the first Blue Zone region ever identified. The island’s men have a habit of finishing each day at a local bar to talk with lifelong friends. In America, where 15% of middle-aged men report having no close friends, that sort of dynamic everyday interaction (whether at a bar or book club) could prove revelatory.

94. Make time to travel

Make time for vacation, first off — overworked Americans leave hundreds of millions of vacation days on the table each year in fear of looking replaceable to employers. Then use that time to actually go and see the world you’ve read so much about; taking just two trips a year raises feelings of contentment while lowering your risk of heart disease.

95. Visit museums

Or visit the ballet. Or visit some experimental art show that your friend’s friend is putting on (even if you have no interest). Those who afford themselves a regular “culture fix” have a 14% lower risk of passing away earlier than a typical lifespan. There is a correlation-over-causation argument to be made, but taking in art is always beneficial.

96. Find your spiritual side

You may want nothing to do with religion. But the findings are indisputable. People of faith people live longer, and in some cases, by up to four years. Congregations show up at the same time each week, they tell stories, they volunteer in their communities. From a longevity perspective, these rituals are extremely potent. It’s worth finding your equivalent.

97. Change your mind

Never in the history of the internet has anyone said “My bad, I’ve changed my mind.” Perhaps people should start. Challenging yourself to look past your imperfect point of view is a next-level stress-reliever that unshackles your entire mindset. Stop arguing in circles. Embrace that other people know things. Then live longer for it.

98. Have a family

It’s a good idea to grow old around younger people. Adults with at least one child tend to have more social interactions and lower mortality rates. On a somewhat less wholesome note, men who end up with younger partners also live longer, too. Younger spouses are a positive psychological influence, and more capable caretakers in the twilight years.

99. Summon some empathy

The whole of society is in an “empathy crisis” right now, so it’s okay if thinking of others takes a little extra effort. But monitoring and augmenting your empathic capacity isn’t just beneficial for your friends, family and colleagues — it’s associated with life satisfaction and positive “interaction profiles” (how you relate to others), regardless of age.

100. Celebrate aging

Not just in the birthday cake sense. Those who approach aging with a positive outlook end up aging easier than others. Proactively acknowledge what’s to come instead of fretting about the wrinkles under your eyes. Maybe you’ll make it to 100. Maybe you won’t. But your absolute best chance comes from living your best life along the way.

By Tanner Garrity @tannergarrity

Source: How to Live to 100: A Definitive Guide to Longevity Fitness – InsideHook

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