Run for your life

A recent study of 18,000 men found that those who maintained the highest levels of aerobic fitness lived 8.7 years longer than the least fit guys. “We’ve all been told about the importance of aerobics in our daily lives, but this gives us the data to prove it,” says Ken Cooper, M.D., founder and director of the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, which conducted the study. To attain that top fitness category, Dr. Cooper recommends, run 2 miles in 20 minutes or less, four times a week.

OM Shaanti OM, Shaanti Shaanti OM

In 1992, The International Journal of Neuroscience reported that daily meditation added a full 12 years, on average, to the life span of senior citizens. A study of 2,000 seniors found that those who did relaxation exercises daily had 87 percent fewer heart attacks than is normal for their age group, 55 percent fewer cancerous tumors and 87 percent fewer nervous disorders. To relax, try tai chi, meditation or yoga.

Pray

A study recently reported in Demography found that whites who attended religious services more than once a week lived an average of 7 years longer than whites who didn’t attend services at all; among blacks, the figure was 14 years. The churchgoers’ lower rates of smoking and drinking certainly account for some of this gain, but their strong social ties and other behavioral factors may also play a role, says Robert A. Hummer, Ph.D., a sociologist at the University of Texas.

Take a chill pill

According to a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study, men classified as having the highest level of anger in response to stress were over 3 times more likely to develop premature heart disease than those who reported lower anger responses. They were also over 6 times more likely to have a heart attack by the age of 55. One possible explanation is the correlation between anger and high blood pressure, a condition that commonly develops in highly stressed individuals. So your lesson is simple: Try as much as you can to let unavoidable, everyday stresses roll off your shoulders.

Drink green tea

It’s those antioxidants again – green tea is bursting with them. Normal tea does contain flavonoids, but they are much more highly concentrated in green tea. It’s also very low in caffeine. Recent research has show that it can even stop you going bald, so you’ll have a full head of hair to go with those extra years.

Do the yoga?

While we love pounding that treadmill, it’s worth trying a mellower form of exercise. The long-term health benefits of yoga are that it’s a gentle, non-damaging form of physical exercise. It also provides muscular strength, flexibility, joint mobility and strong bones. Stress is a contributing factor to heart disease and high blood pressure, and yoga is good at relieving stress.

You can’t catch cold

Warning #1: “Don’t go out without a coat or you’ll get sick!”

Truth: Colds and flu are not caused by catching a chill or by dejectedly walking home from your girlfriend’s in the rain without your rubbers. Nonetheless, this myth persists, largely because most people get sick during winter, when these situations commonly occur. It may even be possible to think yourself ill. If you dread damp feet, your brain may depress your immune system when it happens.