On hearing about the death of an older person, the immediate Irish reaction is to ask: ‘How old was he?’ This tends to be invariably followed by the suggestion – ‘that was a grand age’. Only over the past couple of years, we’re become infatuated with our longevity and what we can do to improve it – in all fairness, how many blueberries did you see in your house when you were growing up?
We’re all fairly au fait with the fact that smoking lessens your time with the grandchildren (by about 10 years for smokers of 20 a day, the experts reckon) and lifestyle magazines regularly list this amongst one of the best things you can do to increase your chances of fashionably sporting a blue rinse for as long as possible. More recently, number crunchers at insurance group Norwich Union did some research on the various ‘age-defying’ life choices suggested by both scientists and these lifestyle magazines and worked out just how beneficial the simple things in life can really be. And folks, it’s what every good Country song has been telling you for years. So if ‘You Like It, You Love It, You Want Some More Of It’, read on.
Being a woman increases my chances of reaching 100 years of age by about 3 and a third years, so that’s a good start. And one of the best things you can do to boost your lifespan is to Stand By Your Man because being married (or, presumably, co-habiting) can add an extra year to your life. Staying slim and trim can increase that by a further six years (some women may argue that running after the afore-mentioned husband will take care of that one). Ladies, having the good grace to laugh at all that laundry piling up could do you the world of good – people who laugh for 15 minutes each day could add an extra eight years to their lives. And not only should you laugh at it but you should also get on with tackling it, instead of waiting til himself falls over it: people who live in jumble and chaos are more likely to feel stressed and depressed and sorting out this disorder in your life can add another year.
When that washing is done, get into the kitchen and start chopping the veg. None of those TV dinners or frozen pizzas for you, me lass – eating a good diet (that includes garlic, wine, vegetables, fruits, almonds and dark chocolate) could extend life expectancy by up to 6.6 years. Lay off the juicy steaks, though, as people who eat meat less than once a week live an average of 3.6 years longer than their carnivore counterparts.
No matter how many dirty socks are left lying around the house, try to take a deep breath and be positive, because that optimistic outlook could keep you on the planet for an extra 9 years. Research indicates that those with a sunny disposition are less prone to viruses and recover quicker from illnesses and injuries. So look for the silver lining.
And don’t forget to get out your rosary beads every night and thank God for your lot. Numerous studies have unearthed links between having a strong faith and enjoying a long life, estimated to be about three years for those who attend weekly religious services.
Keeping up appearances for your man is also crucial – not only will being of a smart appearance boost your self esteem and help with the overall good mood but, believe it or not, flossing your teeth daily can add as much as six years to your life expectancy by removing harmful bacteria that can contribute to cardiovascular disease.
For those nights when your man is off shooting pool and drinking cold ones, get yourself a good mutt to sit by the fire with – people with pets are less likely to suffer from depression and visit their doctors less often than those without. It is also said that stroking a pet can reduce blood pressure and stress levels, possibly increasing your life span by about 2 years. And don’t go waiting up to nag him when he arrives home in the wee small hours, because your beauty sleep will serve you are better. Poor sleep can contribute to a number of medical factors which can put people at risk of heart disease. Those who regularly get at least six or seven hours’ sleep can hope to live up to five years longer than those who sleep badly.
And when you reach that wonderful milestone of 100 years young, you can look back at those wonderful years and ask yourself: ‘Did I Shave My Legs For This?’