Secrets to a Long Life, Revealed

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As a kid, I was obsessed with the story of Juan Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer who went to Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth. Bummers that Ponce de Leon was really just the colonialist governor of early Puerto Rico, and that my glowing child skin has begun to shrivel along with my aging soul.

Still, there are things you can do to prolong your life expectancy. Here’s a peek at what science suggests:

Breathe clean air, gain 21 weeks.
According to a new study by the New England Journal of Medicine, cleaner air is credited with increasing the life expectancy for Americans by an average of 21 weeks. I wonder if that goes even further if I decide to do my laundry.

Eat chocolate, gain 1 year.
Okay, twist my arm. Chocolate packs  antioxidant phenols, which help your body combat cariovascular stress. Whatever, yum. Also, since eating chocolate (especially the decadent dark kind) produces a swell of endorphins which feel a lot like an orgasm, that extra year you’re living will also feel awesome. More, please!

Get educated, gain 1-2 years.
Researchers in Denmark found a direct correlation between the number of years you spend in school and how long you live. Also living in a country with socialized medicine prolly helps too.

Drink red wine, gain 3.8 years.
Small amounts of wine (half a glass a day) have been linked to lower rates of heart disease. This research is based on a pattern of moderate long-term intake–in other words, it doesn’t count if you teetotal on worknights then down a bottle on Saturday.

Do more cardio, gain 4 years.
Conventional wisdom says run for 30 minutes a day and you’ll be healthier, etc., etc. But, if you are like me and only buy running shoes if they look good with jeans, rejoice! Walking works too—it will likely give you 1-3 additional years free from heart disease.

Turn Japanese, gain 5.8 years.
The World Health Organization found that Japanese women have the longest life expectancy, living 5 to 6 years longer than Americans. This discovery has led to unsubstantiated rumors that short people live longer. I wish.

Live rural, gain 6 years.
Researchers in Scotland found that people living in rural areas had a life expectancy of 5.8 years longer than city-dwellers. That much longer to be bored in the sticks?

Be happy, gain 7.5 years.
People who view aging as a positive experience live almost 8 years longer than people who get pissy about it. Let’s try it together: Yay, wrinkles! Yay cataracts! Yay osteoporosis! Woo!

Have more orgasms, gain up to 8 years.
Ok, the research is a bit thin on this one. But after all those arduous walks and the moving to the country and the no smoking (see below), I’m going to have to get my kicks somewhere. And the Real Age books say that having 100 orgasms a year will reduce mortality. Okay, so um, now to just get some!

Stop smoking, gain 13 years.
Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it all before and so have I. But, whoa, 13 years??? Holy moly. That’s a better reason to quit than yellow teeth, bad skin, or even doing that embarrassing hacking-cough thing on the elliptical.

Drink donkey milk, live forever.
Who knew donkey boobs squirted the elixir of youth? So sez the family of the world’s oldest woman, Maria Esther de Capovilla of Ecuador, who died in 2006 at the age of 116 after drinking one glass a day.

Word Up:

Antioxidant phenols: chemicals found in chocolate and red wine (also tea, cranberries, and pomegranates) that help your body fight chronic heart disease, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer

By the numbers:

See Above.

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