Habits of healthy and long life and longevity

When it comes down to it, a great portion of our efforts is in some way motivated by a desire to keep living – to survive. To this end, life is frequently spent always thinking of the future and missing out on the richness of the present moment. None of our worrying makes life last any longer; it just serves as an unpleasant distraction. In effect, we can spoil our experience of life through our efforts to hold onto it. Following is a list of the habits I consider most valuable for extending life.
Everyone knows the value of exercise. The human body is very responsive to physical activity or lack thereof. Simply put, it’s “use it or lose it.” I believe exercise that mobilizes every part of the body in every possible way is the best way to keep it in good shape. Yoga and dance are ideal for this. Exercise that focuses on building core strength and controlling energy flow is also a valuable tool for promoting long life.
Most people epidemically overwork and under sleep. A sufficient amount of good quality sleep can prolong life. Insufficient sleep is associated with an increased incidence of obesity, which is a major risk factor for several conditions that shorten lives. Insufficient sleep is also a major risk factor for accidents. If we’re not well rested, we’re running on lower than optimal resources; thus, we have a reduced capacity to deal with stress, decreased immunity, and a decreased “buffer” between us and the world – all of which impact our health.
Eating habits:
Reduce your consumption of sugar (and avoid artificial sweeteners). This includes all sugars – evaporated cane juice, agave nectar, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, rice syrup, molasses, malt, etc. – and other refined carbohydrates, such as flour. It’s true that some of these are worse than others, but the point is, humans are just not built to handle the large amounts of sugar most of us consume. Our rates of sugar consumption have skyrocketed over the past few centuries, and our bodies have not been able to keep up. Sugar suppresses the immune system, taxes our adrenal glands and pancreas, promotes obesity and causes diabetes – the leading cause of blindness and amputations in the elderly.
One of the chief benefits of massage is, of course, that it’s a safe forum for receiving tender touch. Then there’s its undeniable ability to alleviate stress, a known contributor to virtually all disease. Finally, massage is simply the most basic and valuable tool for physical complaints. I have seen countless headaches, backaches, and joint pains disappear from massage. I’ve even seen certain forms of massage resurrect flaccid limbs in multiple sclerosis and post-stroke. The fact that massage often feels good may be a curse. It has led to the stigmatization of massage as a “luxury item.” The truth is, it’s just good health care.
Any steps we take to improve the quality of life are worthwhile regardless of how much life we have left. The lifestyle recommendations I have presented in this series are by no means the only way to live a long life. However, they are some of the most universally beneficial things humans can do – both for quality and duration of life. Furthermore, when we embrace these practices, and our experience of life becomes richer, we tend to become less concerned about longevity.

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