3 Surprising Things You Can Do In Your Spare Time To Live Longer
What you do with your spare time matters.
How could you live a longer, happier, and healthier life? Whatever your age, you have a vested interest in the answer. As a member of the Medicare generation, the question is of vital importance to me. Amazingly, I am enjoying life today more than ever, and that joy motivates me to keep going for as long as possible.
By the way, I am not alone in my late-in-life happiness: Large-scale research studies reveal that older adults experience happier lives as they age, even if they have a few physical ailments. What a surprising and wonderful finding—and I want you to experience this same happiness. So I’ve scanned for the latest research on extending our lifespan. What was new in 2016? First, let’s take a quick look at what we already know.
Well-Known Longevity Factors
Research has supported the links between longevity and the following behaviors:
- Exercise. Exercise! EXERCISE! Even small doses will extend your life.
- Connecting with others. Surround yourself with good people.
- Reducing stress. Aim for challenges that stretch you but don’t overwhelm you.
- Managing your money wisely. Debt is a willpower vampire, a huge stressor, and a joy-killer.
- Eating healthy foods most of the time.
- Sleeping for 7-8 hours per night.
- Engaging in meaningful activities.
- Drinking coffee. (Oh, joy!)
In their 2011 book, The Longevity Project, Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin reported that the most important factor in longevity was not a behavior, per se, but a character trait: Conscientiousness. Conscientious people take care of their health, keep their medical appointments, are responsible to friends and family, and practice healthy habits.
And Now…Longevity Studies from 2016
Research from 2016 adds three somewhat surprising, recommendations to the list:
1. Read more books.
A recent study found that 30 minutes of reading books per day was associated with a two-year increase in life span for those 50 or older. What validation for those of us who love to read anyway! According to the study (summarized here):
“The research team examined the reading habits of 3,635 people who were 50 or older and their survival was observed over 12 years follow-up. Factors such as education, gender, marital status, wealth, health conditions and depression were controlled for in the study.”
Further, the longevity bonus was higher for book readers than for magazine and newspaper readers, which, in turn was higher than for non-readers. Book readers who read up to the standard of 30 minutes a day (or 3.5 hours a week) were 17 percent less likely to die over the 12-year follow-up. That’s a big bump in life expectancy.
Exactly why book-reading can contribute to a longer life is unclear, even to the study’s authors. Obviously, reading would have cognitive benefits. Because book reading keeps you sharper, maybe such readers would take fewer risks that could lead to mortal accidents. Maybe readers are more introverted, making them less likely to cave in to social pressures to drink, smoke, or engage in other risky activities. Another possibility: You have to settle down and concentrate in order to read, so could it have some of the calming effects of meditation?
Caution: If you spend too much time on your duff with a book, you will be at higher risk for diabetes, low mood, and weight gain. Remember the cry, “Sitting is the new smoking?” I never quite believed it, but a plethora of research does warn us about the hazards of sitting. So, if you decide to read more, get up every hour and move around for 5-10 minutes. Your body and mind will thank you, according to this study. (If you are reading this blog on a treadmill, never mind.)
Recommendation: Read more and move more. If you are like me and can’t sit still for more than 50 minutes anyway, you are probably well protected against “sitting diseases.”
2. Help others…but not too much.
Giving the right dose of emotional support to others will extend your life span. In a study of 500 people over age 70, those who helped out their families and friends by giving occasional support, whether to their children, grandchildren, or even other people’s children, reaped the benefit of a longer life.
Cautions: The adage, “Moderation in all things,” seemed to apply to this particular helping situation. Too much caregiving can be stressful. For example, in the study cited above, custodial grandparents experienced more stress than those who simply provided occasional physical and emotional support. And high caregiver stress is associated with negative health outcomes. But with too little caregiving, you may be at risk of sinking into isolation or self-absorption.
Recommendation: Know your “Goldilocks point” for helping out—not too much, not too little, but just right. If you sense that you are getting overloaded, cut back on your caregiving.
3. Connect through Facebook…but not too much.
It has long been known that social networks are a strong predictor of longevity. Good relationships buffer us from stress, lowering our risk for illness and early death. But this year, researchers from the University of California at San Diego studied 12 million Facebook users (not a misprint) and discovered that even online relationships are associated with a lower risk of death for those born between 1945 and 1989. Facebook users were about 12 percent less likely to die than those not on Facebook. Of Facebook users, those who lived the longest had these traits:
- They interacted with others offline, not just on Facebook.
- Individuals with average or large Facebook networks lived longer than those with smaller ones.
- Those who accepted the most friendship requests lived longer.
By the way, some activities on Facebook were not correlated with a longer life, including the number of “likes” your posts received.
Cautions: As people age, some friendships will be lost through geographical distance, death, and divorce. It’s comforting to know that online contact with friends could mitigate these harsh realities to some extent, as long as face-to-face friendships can also be cultivated. (Note: There are issues with privacy and the use of your data on any social media site, including Facebook. It should also be noted that Facebook collaborated with this study.)
See more: Superfruit of Summer: A Nutritionist Gives Us 8 Outstanding Cherry Health Benefits.
The bright red color of cherries is due to anthocyanins, which are great antioxidants! Antioxidants fight against potentially damaging free radicals (which are basically molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc).
Cherries also contain anti-inflammatories, so they’re a good post-workout snack to ease the inflammation and soreness.
Cherries contain beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A which helps keep your vision (especially night vision) and skin healthy!
High pectin in the cherries mean they’re full of soluble fiber. This is the fiber that helps reduce cholesterol.
Cherries can help you sleep! A study had participants drink ¼ cup of tart cherry juice at morning and night. They found that those who drank the juice slept longer.
Cherries reduce blood pressure. Cherries contain nitric oxide, which widens your blood vessels, reducing the pressure on them and reducing your blood pressure (= GOOD!)
Cherries go well with everything! I’m sure you’re used to cherry pie, but did you know cherries can also pair with savory things? Here are a few flavor pairs to try out this summer:
- Black pepper
- Chocolate (duh)
- Citrus (especially lime and orange)
They’re in season from May to August (depending on the type), so reap the cherry benefits and eat up!
See also: Here’s How To Make Your Own Watermelon Squishy. You’ll Love It!
Lucy (my 9 year old) has been obsessed with squishies. I had no idea what she was talking about whenever she mentioned them until she used her allowance to buy a set. I have to admit, they’re pretty cool! (You can see some here: like this squishy cat hamburger or this scented ice cream set.)
If you’re like me and have never heard of them, they remind me of a stress ball. They’re basically squishy toys that are soft to squeeze and release slowly. Some are even scented! They are great fidget toys and nice for relaxing, playing with, or just nice for relieving stress. You can buy some already made or have a go at making your very own!
In this tutorial I’ll show you how to make a watermelon squishy toy (great for summer crafting), but you can use the same method to make any shape or figure you’d like!
How to Make Squishies Toys
Materials for Squishies Toys
- Memory foam (We cut up an old memory foam pillow, but you can also buy an inexpensive one online or at your local store. Just be sure it’s not shredded foam and an actual solid piece of foam.)
- Very sharp scissors.
- Fabric paint in various colors
- Paper plate or other surface for paint
- Wax paper or parchment paper
- Optional: Art mat for working
Directions for Making Your Own Squishies
1. You’ll need to obtain some memory foam to cut your squishy shape. We had an old memory foam pillow we used, but you can also get an inexpensive memory foam pillow online or at your local store. (Check Target, Walmart, or Kohls.) The pillow actually goes a long way. We made about 15 squishies of various sizes from just half a pillow.
2. You’ll also need some really good scissors to cut through that memory foam. These Gingher dressmaker’s shears are perfect and cut through the foam smoothly.
Start by cutting your foam pillow into more manageable sizes. Then cut a rough version of the shape you want to make with your shears. For watermelon slice squishy, cut out a rectangle. Then cut it into a rough half circle shape. (If doing this project with young children, do this step for them.)
3. Use your scissors to fine tune your shape. Cut off little bits until your happy with your final shape. (Again, if doing this with young children, do this step for them.)
4. Use the fabric paint and paintbrushes to paint your squishies.
First, cover your workspace before beginning. (I love using drop clothes when doing art! You can use them over and over.)
Place the paint onto a paper plate or other surface.
Now it’s time to start painting. We started by first painting the red center…
…and then the green edging. Lastly, we added the black seeds. (You will get paint on your fingers so wear disposable gloves if that bothers you. They even make them in kid sizes! Also, remember the fabric paint will permanently color your clothing so wear something you don’t mind getting paint on just in case.)
5. Place your squishy toy on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper to dry overnight.
6. After your watermelon squishy toy is completely dry, enjoy playing with it!
See more: 5 Easiest-Ever Homemade Lip Scrub Recipes. Say Goodbye to Chapped Lips!
Using a homemade lip scrub once a week especially in the wintertime is very important. Your lips have the thinnest skin on your whole body and should not get chapped or dry. Many people suffer from dry, cracked lips and there’s no reason to keep them that way! With these simple instructions to make a gentle exfoliating lip scrub, your lips will be soft and supple. You’ve heard of body and face exfoliation, but have you heard of lip scrub and lip exfoliation before? That’s right lip exfoliation is one of the hottest buzz words in the health and beauty industry. We need to scrub the dead layers off our skin to maintain smooth and young-looking skin.
The same applies to the lips. We must scrub exterior layer of our lips to make keep smooth and kissable lips. Lip scrub, like all other body scrubs, uses a gritty substance that to exfoliate the surface layers when rubbed on your lips. Lip scrubs remove the dead outer surface of your lips, but unlike body scrubs, they are generally safe if ingested. Lip scrubs are made to be sweet and great-tasting so scrubbing is healthy and enjoyable.
Beauty experts recommend scrubbing your lips and using a lip scrub product at least once a week, and more during winter. It only takes a few minutes to scrub your lips, so doing it once, even twice a week, is very realistic. You can add it to your evening routine, or simply do it after you brush your teeth. With a lip scrub, achieving smooth, beautiful lips will always be within your reach.
The first recipe. Lip scrub with coconut oil
If your pout needs a lot of extra moisture, this is your scrub. It is absolutely decadent. We mean, you can pay lots of money for this in a store! Yet it only requires two ingredients, and while you might have to make a special trip for coconut oil, it’s worth it because you can use it to make beauty products for your hair and your skin as well.
Ingredients, which are needed for this recipe:
- one teaspoon of sea salt
- one teaspoon of coconut butter or coconut oil
The recipe itself is very simple: mix the two together then pat on your lips and gently scrub in circular motion until it’s as smooth as a baby’s. Now your red lipstick will glide on as it should! Repeat daily until you feel your old pout is back.
The second recipe. Lip scrub with coffee
While coffee might not leave you with the best aftertaste, I found this lip scrub intriguing! It’s easy to make, obviously, but that’s not the biggest draw. The caffeine in the coffee will actually rejuvenate the skin on your lips, making them flush with color and more alive. Just make sure not to swallow any, and follow up with a sweet flavored balm!
Ingredients you will have to get for this recipe:
- one tablespoon of coarsely ground coffee
- one tablespoon of olive oil
All you have to do is to mix both the ingredients well and apply on your lips. Gently rub and leave it on for 5 minutes. Rinse with water and apply coconut oil or olive oil to make your lips soft. Another great tip is to use toothbrush for removing dry skin from your lips. You can use toothbrush for applying scrub. Gently rub toothbrush on your lips for a minute and rinse.
You can use these scrubs twice a week because excessive exfoliation removes moisture and results in painful chapped lips.
The third recipe. Lip scrub with honey
You will need these ingredients:
- one teaspoon of olive or jojoba oil,
- one tablespoon of white or brown sugar,
- one tablespoon of honey,
- a half of a teaspoon of petroleum jelly,
- scented oil or spices.
Follow these steps:
- Mix one teaspoon of olive or jojoba oil with one tablespoon of honey and one tablespoon of sugar. If you’d like, you can also throw in a drop or two of scented oil or some spices. White sugar will result in a gentler, more refined scrub. But both will work just fine!
- Mix until it forms a gritty paste. Decide now whether or not you’d like to add a bit of petroleum jelly. This addition will make it smoother, give it volume (for keeping later), and help it stay longer on your lips.
- Apply a small amount of the scrub to your fingertip and rub into lips gently.
- Leave the scrub to sit for about two minutes, and then rinse off with warm water. Now you can say “goodbye” to dull, flaky lips. Do this every two or three days to keep your lips radiant. If your lips are extra sensitive, however, keep it to once a week.
- Place any extra lip scrub in a small jar. An old eyeshadow or lip balm case will work perfectly. The scrub is enough for about half a dozen applications and can be kept for a little over a week. Sometimes it will separate when left alone. Worry not! Just dip your finger a bit deeper in and give it a stir.
For the alternative version of this lip scrub you will need:
- one teaspoon of honey,
- one teaspoon of white or brown sugar,
- warm water.
All you need to do is to combine a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of sugar in a bowl. As mentioned in the first method, white sugar is a bit smaller, resulting in a more refined, gentler scrub. If your lips are extra sensitive, this is a good way to go. Then it is necessary to mix to form a gritty paste. Pick up a toothbrush and rinse in a few drops of warm water.
However, if you prefer your scrub to be more balm-like, omit the water. Just pure honey and sugar makes a great exfoliate. After that you have to dip the toothbrush in the paste. Scrub on the lips, leaving it on for 3 minutes. Then wash it off with warm water and a cloth. You should be left with soft and silky lips ready for kissing! Use the scrub every 3 days to rejuvenate this very sensitive area. When the applying of this homemade lip scrub is over, you need to store for repeated use. Scrape the contents from the bowl into a small jar (an eyeshadow or lip balm jar work well). You should have enough for four or five uses and it’ll keep for around a week. If the honey rises to the top, just stir it up with your finger when you go to use it again. It’s still good!
Here are some tips and warnings concerning these two honey lip scrub recipes:
- If you have no white sugar at hand, you can use brown sugar.
- You can massage in the sugar for up to five minutes depending on how much time is available and how soft you want your lips to be.
- Once lip balm is used for a scrub it is a good idea to keep that same one just for that use.
- Don’t lick it off — you’ll be licking off dead skin!
- There is always the chance of cutting your lip while massaging, so be careful!
The fourth recipe. Lip scrub with mint
If coffee isn’t up your alley but you still want your lips to feel invigorated, try this minty fresh lip scrub instead! The addition of peppermint may not seem like much, but it does wonders for dry, chapped lips. You’ll feel a wonderful tingle afterward, plus your lips themselves will be plump and smooth!
You will need these for the mint lip scrub: a quarter of cup of sugar, one drop of peppermint essential oil, one tablespoon of honey, one tablespoon of olive oil
Directions that you should follow: apply a warm wash cloth to your lips. Hold it there for five minutes to soften the skin. Apply the scrub mixture to both lips and rub for about a minute gently. Rinse with water and a wet washcloth.
The fifth recipe. Lip scrub with lemon
While this is refreshing in the summer, it’s also fantastic in the winter when you’re looking for a little dose of sunshine. Speaking of which, all that vitamin c does wonders for your lips!
The components of this scrub:
- a small amount of lemon juice,
- one teaspoon of petroleum jelly,
- a small tin or jar,
- four teaspoons of caster sugar,
- two toothpicks
Follow these steps and you will get wonderful lemon lip scrub:
- Firstly, gradually add the lemon juice to the caster sugar and mix with your provided toothpick until a thick gooey paste is formed…
- Keep adding the lemon juice gradually! The lemon juice acts as a lip cleanser- the acid of the lemon kills the bacteria on the lips. It also tastes great too!
- Do not add too much lemon juice in one go! If you’ve added too much juice, just even it out with a couple more teaspoons of sugar. The sugar acts as an exfoliator to the lips, removing the dead skin.
- Now leave the paste to the side for a while. We need to heat our petroleum jelly in the microwave for about 2 minutes.
- After two minutes in the microwave, the petroleum jelly should be liquid as shown above. The petroleum jelly acts as a moisturizer and gives your new soft lips a lovely polish!
- Now pour the paste into the basin of petroleum jelly and mix with a couple of toothpicks. The paste will become runny again if you have noticed. We don’t want runny paste! To rethicken the paste, gradually add teaspoons of caster sugar.
- And a little more lemon juice to add some flavor! The paste should be a lot thicker than before as the petroleum jelly hardens… Finally, pour your lip scrub into your tin/jar and you’re done!