Stop searching for the fabled fountain of youth or trying expensive gimmicks promising to hold back time. There are more practical ways to extend your lifespan, finds Matt Blackwell
Humanity has an inherent fear of death. And with no one reporting back from the other side as to what comes next, that fear seems fairly substantiated. The quest to extend our lives is an age-old one and has been the subject of literature, films and folklore. Contrary to popular belief though, there is no magical elixir and you don’t need to transfigure your soul into a painting à la Dorian Gray.
The average life expectancy in Oman is currently 76.59 years, when in 1980 it was a mere 60. So we are living longer than ever before. Thanks to improvements in health care and technological advancements, we are slowly adding years to our lives and by following a few basic tips, you can give yourself the best possible chance of reaching the magical one double-zero.
1 Regular exercise
This one is a given, but unfortunately many people’s lives are becoming increasingly sedentary thanks to office based work and the rise of fast food chains. Don’t force yourself to slog it out for hours on the treadmill if you can’t stand running, instead try to find an activity you enjoy and pursue that instead. “Everybody should be aware that incorporating core-strengthening exercises, strength training, stretching, and high-intensity activities is essential for optimal health, strength, vigour, and yes – longevity,” says Steven Paul Wileman, COO of Horizon Fitness LLC, Oman’s largest health and fitness club chain.
Several UK-based charities have referred to loneliness as the “hidden killer” of the elderly after it emerged that social isolation was associated with a higher rate of death in older people. If you find yourself distanced from your family, you can always attempt to boost your social network by pursuing one of your hobbies or joining a club. Research from the University of Chicago has also revealed that those who marry tend to live longer – roughly four years for women and 10 for men.
3 Get enough sleep
Often under-appreciated by many who view it as non-essential, the fact that withholding sleep from people is used as a form of torture should tell you all you need to know about its importance to a healthy life. A lack of quality sleep can badly affect your concentration and productivity, increase mood swings and actually shorten your life, according to experts. It’s unclear exactly how much sleep our bodies need, but studies appear to show that failing to get at least seven hours of quality sleep can heighten the risk of contracting diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
4 Have regular check ups
Just as you service your car every few thousand kilometres, your body needs routine attention too. Many people believe they only need health care when they are sick, but this isn’t the case. You should book in to see a doctor at regular intervals to give you a once over and check for any underlying symptoms of malignant diseases. With diabetes and cancer among the major killers in Oman, early detection, intervention and treatment can literally mean the difference between life and death.
5 Balanced diet
Food is one of the basic joys of life, but it is important that we don’t eat too much of it and that what we do put into our bodies provides the fuel it needs to function properly. A balanced diet includes elements from all the different food groups, including (healthy) fats, oils, sugar and salt; meat and alternatives; fruit and vegetables and rice and alternatives. According to the World Health Organization, the benefits of a balanced diet are both wide and varied: “A healthy diet can protect the human body against noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer and skeletal conditions. The benefits of eating a wide variety of foods are also emotional, as variety and colour are important ingredients.”
6 Keep your mind active
Like your body, your brain also needs regular exercise. Just because you’ve left school doesn’t mean you have to give up on learning altogether. Your brain requires constant stimulation and new challenges, so turn of the TV and hit the books from time to time. The internet also comes in pretty handy for this. Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, actually found that silver surfers (all were aged 55 and up) showed increased activity in the parts of the brain associated with language, memory, visual ability and comprehension.
7 Manage stress
Stress is a highly negative force and frantic, busy lifestyles are a sure way to put you in an early grave. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “Multiple studies have shown that sudden emotional stresses especially anger can trigger heart attacks and even sudden death.” It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are several ways you can reduce stress and its effects, including identifying what is causing it, building strong relationships, walking away when you’re angry and resting your mind – meditation or yoga can be great for this.