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Above 40? Ten health guides to aging gracefully, living longer — Expert

Medical experts advise that it is important to make more effort to stay healthy if one is above the age of 40  in order to live longer.

According to Dr Toyin Ajala, a Consultant Geriatrician and Physician, clients and close friends alike have frequently asked her what simple actions they could take to live longer.

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Dr Ajala who is also the Chief Executive Officer of JBS Medicare Services, said there are steps to living longer that everyone over 40 should know, aside the usual healthy diet, exercise and no smoking regimen.

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The steps below are some of the 10 surprising, light hearted and scientifically proven steps  she gave on improving one’s longevity after 40.

Floss your teeth

Dr Ajala said flossing one’s teeth daily actually keeps the arteries young. “According to studies at Emory University’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can also trigger inflammation that affects your blood vessels, causing them to narrow, restricts blood flow and can lead to heart disease and stroke. In conclusion, daily flossing adds an average of 6.3 years to a person’s lifespan,” she said.

Don’t sit down

The physician said research has shown that sitting for long periods of time, say more than three hours a day, reduces lifespan and is one of the worst things you can do.  She said: “Limiting sitting time to less than three hours a day would increase a person’s life expectancy by an average of 0.2 years – or more than two months, according to research. This is a difficult one to tackle for many people with long commutes to work. But even a modest, 10 percent reduction in sitting time – for instance, 30 less minutes a day – could have an immediate impact.”

Have a bit of work stress 

Apparently a bit of work stress is good for you and can help you live a long life, said the aging expert, adding that being a hard worker doesn’t necessarily mean job-stress will harm you. “The Longevity Study found that productive, hardworking people (even in old age) are not stressed and miserable, but tend to be happier, healthier, and more socially connected than their less productive peers,” she added.

Practice a religion

Dr Ajala said while many studies agree that religious people tend to live longer, they raise the question why. “As a practicing Christian I would say it is because God answers prayers. Simple!  There are however, several scientific studies that have looked into it and come up with other answers. Researchers believe that it is the social involvement and service to others that goes along with being actively religious that explains why religious people, especially women, live longer,” she stated.

Stay social

Having a strong social group is associated with a longer life, said the geriatrician. So being social is critical. She said maintaining close ties to friends and relatives is important for those who want to live a long life. She said, “From longevity studies, it has been found that people with poor social connections had on average 50 percent higher odds of death in the study’s follow-up period (an average of 7.5 years) than people with stronger social ties.”

Stay active

Cleaning your house, dusting the shelves, mopping the floor, vacuuming — turns out, it can all help you live longer, the expert said. She said people whose daily activities kept them active reduced their risk of a heart attack or stroke by 27 percent, and the risk of dying from any cause by 30 percent, compared to people who spent the least amount of time on their feet. Any activity will do, so housework, if that is your thing, gardening, washing the car or walking your dogs or playing with grandchildren. As long as you stay active, she said.

Have a bit of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 

The geriatrician also said that people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tend to have reliable routines that keep them healthy. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions and behaviors) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

Dr Ajala said it is a personality disorder worth adopting if one wants a healthy long life. She said one’s personality definitely affects how long one will live and with OCD, adding “there is a conscientiousness that makes people tend to make healthier choices.”

Take care of your feet

The medical expert said looking after our feet and keeping them in tip-top shape can help prevent life threatening falls. The most common cause of injury related deaths in the over 75’s is head injuries and fatal hip fractures from falls. “Studies show that our feet are the most neglected part of the body and looking after them can improve posture and balance, prevent aches and pains, prevent injuries and inflammation and most importantly reduce the risk of life threatening falls,” she explained.

Another step is taking music lessons which help increase the level of human growth hormone (HGH) in seniors by 90%; and slows conditions associated with aging such as osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass and aching joints. After the age of 40, HGH decreases in the body by as much as 50%. As such, any activity that boosts HGH levels helps to increase life expectancy, Dr Ajala said.

Lastly, she said studies have also shown that living around nature, particularly green spaces which have less air pollution, increased physical and social engagement and a reduced risk of impaired mental health contribute to the overall increase in longevity.

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