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How to Live Longer (Without Leaving the Couch!)

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Who would not want to be one of those bad-ass elders who skydive, party in Vegas and fist fight, while the others are sipping coffee complaining about their backache? Dr Maoshing Ni, doctor of Chinese Medicine has interviewed centenarians all over the world to find the secrets to living longer, which he presents in his book Secrets to longevity. Here he reveals five, super-easy habits for a long, healthy life.

Breathing is a process we rarely give any thoughts to since it happens automatically, but proper breathing can actually increase your lifespan. Practicing deep, rhythmic breathing daily improves skin, energy, creates a clearer mind and elevated moods. Ironically you are probably not breathing correctly right now; most people sit in front of the computer with a rounded back, caved-in chest and shrugged shoulders without realizing it, which makes it impossible to breathe correctly. Avoid shallow chest-breathing and breathe from your belly instead. Diaphragmatic breathing opens up the lower part of the lungs to make more space available for incoming air. To do this, put your hand on your stomach and take a deep breath letting your belly expand. When you can't inhale more, slowly exhale letting your core tighten and abdominal muscles contract. Continue breathing deeply inhaling three seconds and exhaling five to ten seconds for a couple of minutes.

According to Chinese Medicine, the abdomen is the body's energy bank, and keeping it warm has many health and longevity benefits, especially in the winter months. Before sitting down to watch your favorite TV-show or book, apply a hot water bottle or abdominal wrap soaked in herbal solutions to your abdomen, to replenish your powerhouse.

Do you proudly tell people about your crazy flying/bomb/electric shock alarm clock? If you want to live long it is time to throw it in the trash. Most strokes and heart attacks occur when waking up since the alarm clock increases blood pressure, temperature and heart rate. Therefore, avoid jumping out of bed, and instead gradually wake up with soft music and a short self-massage of body and scalp.

One longevity habit you can start immediately is something as easy as listening to calming, classical music. Classical music enhances cognitive functions such as memory and concentration but also boosts the immune system, increases endurance, relaxes muscle tension and regulates stress hormones. Not a fan of Beethoven? At least do it for your orchids, research shows that plants serenaded with classical music live longer than plants exposed to fast music.

Lastly, take a nap. Yes you heard right, taking powernaps in the middle of the day can increase your lifespan, since it lowers the stress on your heart. Noon is the peak hour for the heart and it is therefore important to rest and avoid stressful activities during this time of the day. Research shows that men who napped at least 30 minutes a day were 30 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who don't nap. You just got the perfect excuse to take a nap. You're welcome.

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Bibliography

  1. Maoshing Ni Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100. unknown publication city: Chronicle Books LLC, 2006.

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