Youth in 5 steps

Longevity It is the magic word: live morebut in the best physical and mental conditions. "His irruption has brought two very distant goals in the collective imagination: end life in good conditions and live longer," says the biologist María Blasco, director of the National Oncological Research Center, in the book Die Young, at 140 years. Spain, with an average of 82.9 years, occupies the fourth place in world life expectancy and could reach first in 2040.

The anti-aging industry generates 80,000 million dollars a year, with the participation of the great fortunes of Silicon Valley: PayPal, Google or the genomic pioneer Craig Venter, who wants to discover with big data why some people live longer. Until he succeeds, let's look for longevity in the details.

1. Jump off the couch … and get active!

What's going on? According to the European Heart Network, more than 40% of Spanish adults do not perform any physical activity. The WHO (World Health Organization) states that sedentary people have a 30% greater chance of dying prematurely.

What should you do? “Exercise is the best prevention for heart health”, Says dr. Ángel Durántez, pioneer in Spain of Proactive Preventive Medicine and Age Management Medicine. To live longer and better, one must devote at least 150 minutes a week to moderate aerobic physical activity or 75 vigorous aerobic physical activity. Exercising regularly improves cardiorespiratory function and bone health, and reduces the risk of noncommunicable diseases.

2. Learn to sleep

What's going on? More than four million Spaniards suffer a chronic or severe sleep disorder and between 20 and 48% of adults have difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, according to the Spanish Society of Neurology. A bad dream encourages the development of Neurological disorders such as stroke, parkinson, Alzheimer's or neuromuscular diseases.

What should you do? When sleeping, the damaged cells, the immune system is stimulated and the organism is reset. A Restful sleep lowers the risk of diabetes and depression. "With age, the ideal duration decreases from nine hours in adolescents to seven in adults," says dr. Durántez, which proposes regular schedules, a ritual of relaxation and not using electronic devices before.

3. Eat well … without starving

What's going on? In the supermarket is the great enemy of longevity, addictive and full of sugar and harmful fats: ultraprocessed foods.

What should you do? Ignore them and bet on the Mediterranean diet which prevents obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and, being rich in antioxidants, prevents premature aging. Its ingredient list includes vegetables and legumes, fruit, fish, white meats, brown rice and pasta, extra virgin olive oil and nuts. Also, run away from ultraprocessed temptation by planning your purchase, improving your culinary skills and bringing home-made food to work. And enjoy, because as dr. Durántez, "a diet you don't like is bound to fail."

4. Relate, be happy

What's going on? Affective, healthy and quality relationships help us live longer and better and be happier. It is the conclusion reached by the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which was developed over 80 years and ended in 2017.

What should you do? "Surround yourself with people and friends. It is a fact that nobody likes to be alone, ”says Dr. Durántez. The work of the American university found that the people who were most satisfied with their personal relationships at age 50 were also healthier at age 80. And, of course, they lived longer. The study also revealed that these emotional ties, more than money or recognition, they keep people happy all their lives. "They help delay mental and physical deterioration, and lead to longer and more satisfying lives," summarizes dr. Robert Waldinger, director of the study.

5. Flee from the toxic

What's going on? Although the number of smokers has descended in Spain in the last nine years, there are still 22.7% of people who smoke tobacco daily, according to the Spanish Association against Cancer. As for the intake of alcohol, the consumption in Spain is 10 liters per person per year, above the European average (9.8 liters).

What should you do? In Spain 164 people die a day because of tobacco, a habit that is estimated to shorten life 11 years on average. But quitting has a reward: smokers with a smoking history of at least 20 years reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by 39% in five years if you stop smoking, according to a study published in JAMA. The benefits of quitting alcohol are even more immediate and affect sleep, weight and even skin. There is no safe limit for alcohol intake. In fact, a study published in The Lancet says that drinking more than 12.5 units of alcohol per week (five drinks a week) affects life expectancy.