We may live in a culture that prizes youth, but that doesn’t stop us from experiencing the very human condition of wanting to live as long as we possibly can, no matter how wrinkled we’ll become. Luckily, modern science has come a long way in terms of deciphering which factors contribute to aging, and we can now therefore prescribe certain remedies in order to legitimately slow the clock. Silicon Valley hasn’t been slow to capitalize on these advances, and the bright minds invested there have helped to create several apps that can actually help us improve our life expectancies. Here are 5 of our favorites, along with the science behind why they might work.
Anti-Aging Tactic: Meditation (And Especially Mindful Meditation) Regular meditation has been scientifically proven to increase levels of telomerase, an enzyme responsible for repairing the telomeres at the end of your chromosomes. These telomeres prevent your chromosomes from unraveling, which is one of the processes that causes aging. As an added bonus, meditation has also been proven more effective for chronic pain reduction than medication, some studies have shown that it can be as effective as medication for depression, and the practice boasts a host of other, scientifically-proven benefits, many of which you can read about here.
Recommended App: Headspace, Free for 10 days, then $7.99 / month Headspace is touted as a “gym membership for the mind.” Subscription to the service includes foundational courses, health-focused courses (mental and physical), relationship-focused courses, performance-enhancing courses (in work, creativity, etc.), and more. To start, you’re given ten, ten-minute sessions to engage with over a ten-day period (for free). You can’t skip ahead, and this remains true of the paid member sessions as well--you must complete them in their prescribed order. Read one writer’s account of her 10-day Headspace challenge here.
Longevity Tactic: Plant-Based Diet It’s no longer news that plant-based diets have been linked to longer lives and a lowered risk of disease; however, you may not know that bean consumption is key. One study showed that “for every ¾ ounce increase in daily legume intake, there is a 7 to 8% reduction in mortality hazard ratio.” Also critical are foods in the brassica family (brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, cauliflower), as they contain sulforaphane, which activates an antioxidative protein called Nrf2. This has been shown to trigger the “anti-aging phenotype” in animal studies and has also been shown to help prevent cancer.
Suggested App: Green Kitchen, $4.99 The Green Kitchen app boasts beautiful photography, which may be helpful in enticing those who aren’t so into meatless meals. Find hundreds of creative vegetarian recipes here with step-by-step instructions, all of which are curated by the bloggers behind Saveur Best Food Blog Award-winning Green Kitchen Stories.
Longevity Tactic: More (and Better) Sex Apparently, women who achieve orgasm more often tend to live longer than “their less fulfilled counterparts.” Even if you aren’t… reaching your potential, however, you can still reap innumerable benefits from regular sex that can lead to a longer life. These include lowered blood pressure, better immunity, reduced stress, improved cholesterol, and more.
Suggested App: Kindu, free Hear us out on this one. It’s a little silly, sure, but taking your partner’s temperature when it comes to various new ideas for the things you can do behind closed doors may revitalize an otherwise routine sex life and result in lots of laughter (which is, as it turns out, another means for increasing your life expectancy). How the app works is that it connects you with your partner and then suggests activities you can suggest to him in order spice up your sex life (and vice versa). He can then respond with one of the following options, which is, if nothing else, hilarious. (Note: If you're single, maybe try this app instead... but don't tell anyone we told you to.)
Nike Training Club
Longevity Tactic: Daily Exercise Studies have shown that people who exercised for 450 minutes per week (a little over an hour per day) were 39% less likely to die prematurely than those who did not exercise at all. If fitting that amount of exercise into your routine feels daunting, however, try initially aiming for 150 minutes per week, which will decrease your risk of premature death by 31%.
Suggested App: Nike Training Club, free Access to this app includes over 100 workouts from “Nike Master Trainers,” tailored to your individual fitness level. It also allows you to share your workouts with your friends which, if you think about it, could be a pretty effective means of motivation--if we got a notification that our friend had just completed a crossfit class while we were stuffing down our third slice of pizza, we might be forced to rethink our lives a little. We also like DailyBurn ($12.95/mo.), through which you can stream new workouts every single day of the year.
Longevity Tactic: Happiness Okay, so a recent study showed that happiness levels didn't actually affect longevity, which is good news in that it debunks that idea that bad attitudes and stress cause disease (victim-blaming); however, unhappiness can contribute to unhealthy behaviors such as excessive drinking (which one study says can decrease your life span by 7.6 years), smoking (-10 years), pill addiction, and a host of other activities that negatively impact longevity.
Suggested App: Happify, free for the basic program, $15/mo. for the full program Happify offers a science-backed program of games and activities that are purported to improve your overall level of happiness (in two months!). Examples include a prompt requesting you to list three of your day's victories, no matter how big or small which, according to the book Meet Your Happy Chemicals, is an activity proven to boost happiness when repeated daily for 45 days (technically, self-reporting one victory is enough for success).
One of the biggest benefits of regular engagement in Happify is that it increases mindfulness which, as we mentioned in slide #1, is shown to improve longevity.