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Three ways to slow down ageing

Cutting-edge scientific research shows that the way we think and live can have a massive impact on the way we age

by Suzy Walker

slow down ageing

New research focusing on longevity hotspots around the world found that small lifestyle changes can add up to 10 years to most people’s lives. Ageing is 10 per cent genetic and 90 per cent lifestyle, the research found. Using practices to shed stress and boost relaxation can have a massive impact on not only how you age but how long you live. How?

1. BE KIND!

Scientists now believe that ageing is actually like a disease and that the possible lifespan of the human body far exceeds what we currently live to. They believe that inflammation is a primary cause of ageing.

Scientists have discovered that the vagus nerve – the longest nerve in the body that is stimulated by acts of kindness and compassion serves as a ‘brake’ on inflammation in the body. 'We have far more control over the ageing process than we think,' says Dr David Hamilton, author of Why Kindness Is Good For You. ‘Being kind is better than botox!' he adds.

2. SLOW DOWN YOUR BRAINWAVES

Our brain waves are measured as micro-electrical charges per second. The one we are most familiar with is beta - at 13–30 cycles per second, known as our waking, conscious mind.

Then there is the alpha state, measured at 7–13 cycles per second. This is known as our meditative or contemplative mind.

Theta is 4–7 cycles per second. Delta brainwaves are considered the most relaxed brainwave frequency range. Delta brainwaves are commonly associated with the deepest sleep and a state of unconscious awareness: ranging from 0–4 cycles per second.

One of the associated benefits of increasing your delta brainwaves is the release of two powerful anti-ageing hormones - melatonin and DHEA. The delta brainwaves are also associated with decreased levels of cortisol – a hormone linked to stress that has been scientifically proven to speed up the aging process. We only access delta waves when we are in a deep sleep.

Click here for 10 tips to a better night’s sleep.

3. LEARN TO MEDITATE

Dr. Robert Wallace was one of the first scientists to study the effects of meditation on aging. He found that subjects with an average chronological age of 50 years, who had been practising Transcendental Meditation for over five years, had a biological age 12 years younger than their chronological age.

If meditation isn’t your bag, don’t panic. William Bloom, one of Britain’s top holistic teachers and author of The Endorphin Effect, studied and taught meditation for years but was thrown when people in his meditation classes said they felt just as good stroking their cat (or riding their motorbike/going for a lovely walk) as they did meditating.

This led Bloom to research what is now known as the ‘endorphin effect’ – how relaxed, loved-up and peaceful you feel when your body is flooded with endorphins. Bloom’s research has shown that are five ways you can trigger these endorphins – without meditating.

  • Think about someone you like or do something you like. (Make a list of things you genuinely enjoy and do more of them – this will naturally trigger a flood of endorphins.)
  • Make napping your greatest skill. Or at least allow your body to slump and your body language to sink into napping body language. A 3- or 4-minute slump will release that flood of feel-good hormones.
  • Get 20 minutes of movement in – it doesn’t have to be aerobic; any sustained movement for 20 minutes or more will release endorphins.
  • Connect with nature – be it staring at a blade of grass or going for a walk in the woods. This is proven to release endorphins in the body.
  • Monitor how your body feels and give it a break – treat it as you would a hurt animal or child – gently relax and think loving, kind thoughts about your poor old body. Apparently, every time we do this, endorphins flood to the rescue.

Photograph: plainpicture/PhotoAlto

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