Extending your life span is pretty dang easy.
Over the past few years, there has been an ever-increasing obsession with biohacking and life extension: FDA-approved studies to see if metformin, a drug historically used to treat Type 2 diabetes, can slow aging. A supplement called Basis, which purports to extend life and is backed by multiple Nobel Prize–winning scientists. Transfusing the blood of younger individuals into older ones. Plus a whole manner of other hacks, such as dumping loads of butter into your coffee and wearing headbands that allegedly improve brain function.
Although these approaches are intriguing and arguably worth studying further (at least some of them), too many people seem to have forgotten that there already exists a scientifically proven method—one supported by decades of peer-reviewed research—to extend both the quantity and quality of your life: adopting a few healthy, quotidian habits.
“We’ve known since the mid-1960s that lifestyle behaviors have an outsize influence on health and longevity,” says Michael Joyner, a researcher and expert on health and human performance at the Mayo Clinic. Since then, evidence to support the positive impact of healthy living has mounted, he says, even as more people try to find the elixir of youth. Consider research published in 2011 in the American Journal of Public Health demonstrating that adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors—regular exercise, a wholesome diet, no smoking—can increase lifespan by 11 years. Or a 2016 study published in the British Medical Journal that found a healthy lifestyle reduces one’s chance of all-cause mortality by a whopping 61 percent.
The great irony is that “the idea behind a lot of these moon-shot fountain of youth drugs, supplements, and gadgets is to replicate the already proven biological and physiological effects of a few key behaviors,” says Joyner.
This post originally appeared on on Outside and was published April 18, 2017. This article is republished on getpocket.com with permission.