There are a lot of habits that we can incorporate into our day-to-day lives that will help us extend our time on this earth. However, there are three that stand out, not just because they’re effective and simple, but they’re also cost-free.
We talk about hydration a lot here at The Optimist Daily, but that’s because there are still so many people out there not getting enough water, even though the benefits of sipping enough water throughout the day are huge.
For instance, drinking water doesn’t just quench your immediate thirst, it plays an enormous role in brain health. Our brains are 75 percent water, so to work properly, it needs all that fluid.
“[Water is] going to help keep your blood pressure normalized; it’s going to help flush out [waste] from your cells; it keeps your cells metabolically active and healthy,” explains neuroscientists Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D.
Water is also key for maintaining memory and reducing brain fog. This study restricted the water intake of young healthy women to no more than six ounces in a day and found that the participants performed worse on cognitive tests that required visual and working memory. However, once they drank enough water, their executive function returned to normal.
Maintaining quality social connections doesn’t leave much room for loneliness, which makes people more prone to multiple health issues, and can even negatively impact immune response. On the other hand, feeling connected with others has the opposite effect. This study explored the immune responses of 184 elderly people and demonstrated that those who were happily married had more robust immune responses when compared to those who felt lonely.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to be married to fulfill the need for social connection. Zaraska says that “things like kindness and volunteering can protect your antiviral response,” too.
To fully appreciate the benefits of breathing exercises and breathwork, you need to understand what hormesis is. Hormesis is a concept that refers to short, intermittent bursts of specific stressors called “hermetic stressors” that trigger cellular processes within your body that make you more resilient to future physical and mental stress, which in turn boosts longevity.
Breathwork, specifically breath holds, can serve as an effective hermetic stressor.
Breathing expert Patrick McKeown explains further: “You take a normal breath in and out through your nose, punch your nose, and hold. Then start walking with the breath-hold and go into a jog. Keep going until the air hunger is quite strong, and then let go.” If you’re new to this kind of practice, then perhaps start yourself off with a walk before working your way up to a jog.
Keeping up this kind of exercise will help reduce your carbon dioxide sensitivity, an important marker for optimal respiratory strength. This increases carbon dioxide in your blood, which helps reduce your sensitivity to it. “That’s something we use a lot with athletes, but it does more than that: it will open up the nose; it will open up the lungs; it will increase blood flow to the brain,” McKeown adds.