About the Author

Marta Zaraska

Books by this Author
Growing Young

Growing Young

How Friendship, Optimism, and Kindness Can Help You Live to 100
edition:Paperback
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Excerpt

From the Introduction

In our modern, busy times, it’s no wonder that we prefer easily quantifiable longevity quick fixes. Many of us don’t have enough hours in a day to focus on all possible things that might influence health. I certainly don’t. Between full-time work and taking care of my daughter, there is little time left to think about cardiovascular exercises, organic foods, trying a ketogenic diet, worrying about whether to stop eating gluten, and so on. That is why in this book I prioritize longevity habits and focus on the things that matter the most if you want to live long. Number one? A committed romantic relationship, which according to some studies can lower your mor­tality risk by a staggering 49 percent. Second, having a large social network of friends, family, and helpful neighbours can reduce the probability of early death by about 45 percent. Third is having a conscientious personality (44 percent).

The benefits brought by the rest of the longevity interventions I describe in this book hover around 20 to 30 percent of mortality risk reduction and play a far greater role in your health than the paleo diet, your turmeric intake, or omega-3 fatty acids (volunteering—about 22 to 44 percent; omega-3s—no effects found). What’s more, all these things matter to your centenarian potential at least as much as does a veggie-loaded diet or a busy exercise schedule. Of course, it’s a tricky thing trying to compare mortality risks between studies. Studies differ in methodology, the time period when they were conducted, the populations tested (Americans, Japanese, Danish, and so on). I have based my calculations, whenever possi­ble, on the best of studies: meta-analyses and reviews published in respected peer-reviewed journals. Still, the numbers here should be treated as rough guides, not dogma.

To save you time, throughout this book I suggest solutions that marry classic health boosters such as nutrition and physical activity with mental and social efforts. I explain why mowing your elderly neighbour’s lawn may be better for your arteries than hitting the gym and why jogging with a friend, in synchrony, could have a higher longevity payoff than running alone (the synchrony is key here). As food goes, rather than gobbling your broccoli without much thought it’s more beneficial to eat it mindfully. And for a healthy oxytocin boost, try savouring your greens while looking deeply into your beloved’s eyes (research suggests a beloved dog might help, too).

From the perspective of mind-based longevity, becoming a cente­narian or raising one often means less work, not more. It means taking a back seat, worrying less, and buying less—fewer toys, fewer fitness gadgets, less organic food. It means letting kids play unsuper­vised, and letting them get dirty. It means easing up on yourself, spending more time with friends and family, and laughing more often—and the sooner you start, the better.

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