Four things are at the very top of the list in most studies of health & longevity. The four take turns being #1. They are, in varying order: exercise, sleep, meditation (stress reduction), and diet / nutrition.
You can learn the basics of the first three in a few hours each, using tips here. Then if you simply do them, many of your life problems will be solved!
The last, diet/nutrition, you can spend the rest of your life on. You can learn and definitely get better at it, which I encourage. However, no one will never understand it fully. The scientific knowledge and the studies conflict, the ”rules” change, each person is unique, and even when you find something that works for you, sooner or later, it won’t. You have to learn, and adapt. It’s worth it. (Oh, obviously get rid of bad habits like smoking, excess alcohol, etc, which are more or less in this category.)
However, there is a fair amount of agreement on eating habits to be found. As a scientist, I have spent decades researching this topic. Rather than go into detail on diet here, let’s move on to the easy things.
Re exercise, Yoga, Tai Chi and older traditional forms appear to be better, but most any exercise that keeps you moving, especially with complete range of motion and to near exhaustion, will work – if you do it regularly. Simple walking is of benefit too, as found in studies of people who sit at a desk for various lengths of time. Longer “sitters” die younger, so get up occasionally and move. In fact, even “passive motion” confers significant benefits, by increasing lymphatic circulation.
Sleep is vastly underrated in modern society. Some people even brag about getting by with little sleep. Don’t fall for it. Our ancestors got a LOT of it; they slept while it was dark, so they averaged around 9 hours, and certainly more than 6 hours. People who sleep well are statistically much healthier and live longer than other people. They are happier, they do better at work, and in their relationships. While studying nutrition, the more complicated topic, I kept finding these sleep studies. For just one example (of many), a study found that 6 hour sleepers are 4 times more likely to catch a virus than 8 hour sleepers. In these times, that is a stark warning.
There is more to learn about sleep, but it still isn’t that complicated. I will post more in future articles.
I can mention one interesting thing here that you probably do not know; studies find that sleeping in motion produces the best quality sleep you can get, regardless of how many hours you have to sleep. Gentle motion produces faster sleep onset, more stage 3 sleep (the most desirable stage), and more “sleep spindles” (a measure of cellular repair). It produces better EEG (thus deeper relaxation while asleep, or even when awake), and has other benefits. It’s far more enjoyable too. Of course as your own mother would tell you, it already worked for you.
There are several ways to benefit from motion during sleep. You can get a boat, a hammock, or other devices, if you can live with the drawbacks. Another technology to provide the most relaxing motion is a Floating Bed – www.floatingbed.com There is a lot of science on this. It doesn’t cost you precious time either, since falling asleep more easily and faster actually saves you time.
Meditation is the unsung hero here, but most people won’t take the time to do it, which is too bad. I encourage you to find a simple technique that works for you. It works wonders for stress, health, and peace of mind. It feels nice, and it helps break the habit of worrying so much.
That’s the basics of what you need to know to be healthy, happier, and have a long life. My hope for you is that you are happy and well, that you don’t have any bad luck, and that you can do these things – and that you enjoy a more beautiful life! Stay tuned for more.