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Fifty ways to live to 100 (Part 5/5)

Have kids
Children may exhaust you, but they could save your life. Last week a Danish study reported men unable to conceive were twice as likely to die early from circulatory disease, cancers and accidents - childless women were four times at risk. It's thought they're more likely to end up drinking, becoming depressed or ill. Adoption reduced the risk.

Step away from the box
After the age of 25, every hour of TV you watch could shave 22 minutes off your lifespan, suggest scientists at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
It doesn't matter if you exercise - it's long periods of inactivity the body really hates. Muscles aren't used properly, sugars and fats are not adequately processed, raising risks of illness and early death.

Life's a laugh
Humour may boost levels of infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells, says Robert Provine, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland.
A really good belly laugh improves blood flow by more than 20 per cent. Some studies suggest it can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Stretch to reverse illness
An Indian study of people with heart disease found that prolonged stretching (in the form of yoga) combined with moderate aerobic exercise and diet control reduced cholesterol and reversed hardening of the arteries (by as much as 20 per cent). If we don't stretch our tendons and muscles they get shorter - ultimately hampering our range of motion and putting stress on the joints.

Be cheery with others
Professor Provine has found we're 30 times more likely to laugh with other people than alone - the social nature of laughter has more impact than physiological changes.

Run as fast as you can
The speed at which you can run a mile in your 40s and 50s is a spooky prediction of heart disease 30 or 40 years later, according to a study by the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas.
For men, eight minutes is good; for women, nine. But if you struggle to do it in ten minutes (12 minutes for women), you have 30 per cent greater risk of developing and dying from heart disease. Try walking the distance briskly first. When this becomes easy, break into a jog for a few yards at a time, gradually building up.

Choose what to remember
Many age-related memory problems are not caused by shrivelling brain cells, but because we try to hold too much in our heads, says Dr John Medina, a leading U.S. brain researcher. "Middle-life brains have a really hard time blocking out unnecessary information," he said.
His solution: consciously dropping unimportant pieces of information to free up space - so let the bus timetable, the names of people you met at dinner, the plot of the TV soap opera drift from your mind.

Don't bottle it up
Researchers at the University of Michigan found couples who suppressed their anger were 25 per cent more likely to die early. Over time, suppressed anger can cause high blood pressure, insomnia, heart problems and could increase risk of cancer.

Be careful how you sleep
Sharing a bed disrupts your sleep and affects your health, says Dr Neil Stanley, who runs the sleep laboratories at Surrey University.
His research shows that when one partner moves in their sleep, there is a 50 per cent chance the other will also change position (their sleep disrupted without them even knowing it); snoring makes things much worse.
"People say they like the feeling of their partner next to them when they're asleep - but you have to be awake to feel that."

Finally - an excuse to play golf
A study of 600,000 Swedish people suggested playing golf boosted life span by an average of five years longer than non-golfers.
"A round of golf means being outside for four or five hours, walking at a fast pace for six to seven kilometres, something which is known to be good for the health," said Professor Anders Ahlbom, of the Karolinska Institute.
"There are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game."

Fifty ways to live to 100 (Part 1)
Fifty ways to live to 100 (Part 2)
Fifty ways to live to 100 (Part 3)
Fifty ways to live to 100 (Part 4)

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