Keys to a Long Life

There’s no single key to a long life — there are lots of them.

The MURDOCK Study, which I discuss in my story A Long Look at Longevity, fascinates me not only because of its potential to discover the causes of and cures for diseases, but also because of its research into healthy aging. If you want to follow the study or even participate, visit this website. Some, but not all, of the sub-studies in the larger MURDOCK study have geographic restrictions.

Now back to healthy aging.

As I get older, I find myself thinking how great it would be if the secret to staying young was simply drinking a glass of water.

That’s what the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon was thinking as he went looking for the Fountain of Youth in Florida in 1513. It was said that anyone who drank from the fountain would have his or her youth restored.

There is now some debate among historians about whether de Leon actually went looking for the Fountain. But when I mentioned the legend to those working on the healthy aging part of the MURDOCK Study, I found out de Leon was partially correct.

It turns out that water, even if it's not from the Fountain of Youth, is a key to feeling young and healthy as the months and years on the calendar keep flipping. Here are some healthy aging tips from the experts:

  1. Keys to a Long LifeBe Social — People who connect with family and friends have a measurable benefit to staying health and living longer. And if that connection involves not holding grudges (forgiving) and helping others, the benefit is even stronger.

  2. Be Optimistic — Having a positive attitude and getting rid of stress helps your health in multiple ways. Don’t be afraid, just be aware.

  3. Be Active — This can be done in many ways, and it can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking down the hall to talk with a colleague rather than sending an email. Studies show walking two miles a day adds years to your life. Exercising 30 minutes a day is even better. 

  4. Be Carcinogen Free — This is obvious. Quit smoking and wear sunscreen.

  5. Be Smart — Challenge your mind daily. Read a book rather than always watching television or staying glued to technology. Learn something new everyday and try new activities.

  6. Be Consumption Conscious — The key here is strike a healthy balance between calories in and calories out. Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Avoid trans fats. Limit saturated fats. Enjoy moderate amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils.

  7. Be Wet — Ponce de Leon was onto something. Water is the most effective weapon against toxins because it washes out your system. Drink lots of water.

And there you have it. What tips would you add?

— Frank Graff

Frank Graff is a producer/reporter with UNC-TV, focusing on North Carolina Science Now, a weekly science series that airs Wednesdays, beginning in August 2013, as part of North Carolina Now on UNC-TV. In addition to producing these special segments, Frank will provide additional information related to his stories through this North Carolina Science Now Reporter's Blog!

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