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Dublin: 18 °C Thursday 2 October, 2014

These are the surprising things that can help you live longer

Here’s what the scientists say…

This is the Greek island of Icaria. If it makes you feel better just looking at it, you should try living there - it has the highest proportion of over-90s in the world.
This is the Greek island of Icaria. If it makes you feel better just looking at it, you should try living there - it has the highest proportion of over-90s in the world.
Image: mrpc666 via Flickr/Creative Commons

THE EPIC HUNT for the Fountain of Youth — the legendary pool of water that supposedly halts the aging process in its tracks — has eluded scientists for thousands of centuries.

And while the mythical spring may never amount to more than the stuff of bedtime stories and fictional Hollywood films, researchers are constantly looking for real-life remedies to increase longevity.

We don’t guarantee that these life-enhancing activities will turn you into a teen again, but they have been shown to improve health, and in some cases, stave off death by several years.

Being rich (but not for the reason you think)

Sure, having tons of money will pay for better health care, food, and a personal trainer to whip you into shape, but people who are rich also have more of a key hormone associated with prolonged life spans.

DHEAS (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate) is a steroid produced by the adrenal glands and brain that has been linked to a broad range of health benefits, including improved memory, a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and increased longevity, especially among men.

Scientists from the University College London found that wealthier people have higher levels of DHEAS.

Hanging out with lots of women

Researchers at Harvard University found that men who are raised in an environment with few women die sooner than those who grow up around many females, according to The Economist.

A high female-to-male ratio increases the likelihood that men will find lifelong partners and get married, which is known to have positive health effects, according to the study.

Living on a Greek island (well, one particular island)

The Greek island of Icaria in the North Aegean Sea is home to the largest percentage of 90-year-olds in the world, where almost one-third of the population meets the impressive age milestone.

A study attributes the islanders’ unusually long life spans to a natural mountainous terrain which requires daily physical activity and healthy diets high in olive oil and herbal teas.

Drinking wine

Red wine, that is. A compound found in the skin of red grapes called resveratrol has been shown to to protect the body against ageing as well as type2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes. But you knew that, right?

More sex

Sex adds years to your life. Researchers at Queens University in Belfast followed about 1,000 middle-aged men over 10 years and found that males with a high frequency of orgasms lived twice as long as those who did not experience pleasure.

Flossing daily

In addition to keeping your teeth from rotting out of your mouth, regularly flossing reduces the the risk of heart disease, according to doctors from the Department of Periodontics at Case Western Reserve University, says The Register.

The dental routine prevents gum disease, which can lead to infections and inflammation that allow harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream and increase the risk of heart disease.

Singing

A study by George Washington University and the National Endowment for the Arts found that singers in a choir group felt physically healthier, had fewer doctors visits, and were less depressed than a control group.

A study from the University of London also showed that singing reduces stress by producing endorphins and offers physical benefits by exercising the heart, lungs, abdominal, and back muscles.

Getting angry

It’s not a secret that holding in aggression can lead to unwanted stress. So it’s only natural that releasing pent up ire places less pressure on the heart.

According to researchers at Stockholm University, males who vent their anger are 50% less likely to experience a heart attack or die from serious heart disease.

Gaining (some) weight

It seems counter-intuitive, but being mildly overweight may actually aid the survival of older people as other aspects of their health decline, according to researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Portland, Oregon.

A study of 11,326 adults over 12 years found that those who carried extra weight were 17% less likely to die than people of normal weight, CNN reports.

Housework

Women who spend up to 17 hours a week doing household chores such as mopping, cooking, and doing the laundry can reduce the risk of breast cancer by as much as 30%, according to a study by Cancer Research UK.

After studying more than 200,000 women over six years, researchers found that moderate exercise from housework prevented cancer more than other forms of rigorous physical activity.

Owning a cat

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute in Minneapolis found that cats, by nature, alleviate stress and anxiety, potentially reducing the risk of heart attack in humans by 30 per cent.

It’s not just the felines’ unconditional love that helps cat owners stave off stress-related cardiovascular diseases. A cat’s purr actually produces vibrations at frequencies that have been known to help with pain relief, bone and muscle growth, and wound healing.

- Dina Spector

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