THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
MARCH 25, 2017 -- CADILLAC NEWS
We live in contentious times. Still, there may be something upon which we can all agree. An answer to a question that assuredly would get a 100 percent “yes” response. Would you like to live longer and feel better while doing it?
I thought about this while reading an article in the AARP Bulletin, “50 Great Ways to Live Longer.” Contained within the article were many of the “usual suspects” on the topic: get your rest, move more and eat less, consume more vegetables, yada-yada, stuff we've all heard before. However, there were some interesting suggestions that might surprise you. Plus, they all have a basis in science.
For example, how many times have you told your children to sit still? Well, doing so may decrease their life span. Fidgeting is good for you. “A 2016 British study finds that sitting for seven or more hours a day increases your risk of dying by 30 percent — except among active fidgeters, who see no increased risk.” That restless leg habit is actually a good thing.
Now that it's spring, the married men in the audience may be facing a rather lengthy “honey-do” list. Guys, don't complain. “Marriage truly is good for your health and your longevity. Married men have a 46 percent lower risk of death than never-married men.” They also have a 5 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease. To summarize for married guys, saying “yes dear” will add years to your life. On the other hand, this will add to the number of years during which you will be saying “yes dear.” It's a bit of double edged sword.
Eating the right things can also lengthen your life, but bringing the heat is a real key. “Eating hot chili peppers may add years to your life...those who reported eating hot peppers reduced their risk of dying by 13 percent. That’s because the body produces endorphins to reduce the heat from the capsaicin in the peppers; those endorphins also reduce pain and inflammation.” Who knew Buffalo wings might be a health food? Sort of. (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/well/eat/eat-peppers-live-longer.html)
While eating ghost peppers might bring tears to your eyes, so might something less painful, like “a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art.” Research from the University of California, Berkeley found: “That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy.” We always knew the arts lifted the soul and now we also know that they also benefit the body.
Another way to enrich our lives is by getting a friend with four legs. “The American Heart Association has weighed in with a report published in the Journal Circulation that recommends owning a dog. Dog owners are more likely to be physically active and are also less vulnerable to the effects of stress.” (https://habri.org/research/healthy-aging)
This is not to say cats don't have value too. It turns out that watching those cat videos on Youtube may help you live longer. “Laughter really is the best medicine, helping to reduce stress, boost the immune system, reduce pain and improve blood flow to the brain. In fact, laughter has the same effect on blood vessels as exercise, report researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.”
Dogs and cats are things you can share with your grandkids and you might want to consider doing this often. “Regularly watching the grands can lower your risk of dying by a third, according to a 2016 study published in Evolution and Human Behavior. That adds up to an extra five years of life. Caregiving gives grandparents a sense of purpose, and keeps them mentally and physically active.” Plus, grandkids can remember all your passwords and unscramble the iPad you turned into an expensive doorstop. (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/caring-for-grandchildren-linked-with-surprising-health-benefit/)
While the grandkids are not around, you can use that quiet time to read. “Scientific research supports the longevity benefits of reading — newspapers and magazines, books.” A study at Yale University found: “As little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read.” So, reading this column may actually add a few minutes to your life...or be a few minutes you will never get back...you choose.
A couple of things that might help you live longer come from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). One of those is to make sure you have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home and that you regularly replace the batteries. I was taught to replace the batteries every time the time changed from Eastern Standard to Daylight Savings (and back again).
A second CDC suggestion is to rid your home of throw rugs. One of the best health tips for seniors is “don't fall.” The CDC says tripping over/sliding on throw rugs sends 38,000 older adults to the emergency room each year. “Banish these rugs from your home, and make sure bath mats have a nonslip bottom.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3591732/)
All of these are good tips for a long and healthful life. You can see all 50 suggestions at: http://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2017/50-ways-to-live-longer.html.
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.