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If the idea of extending your life sounds appealing, I've found some science-based lifestyle methods from Dr. Josh Axe's website, draxe.com, most likely to make that happen.

For instance, those who spend time in nature reduce their risk of death by 12 percent. Researchers found enjoying the green outdoors also intensified social engagements.

Secondly, follow a diet that consists primarily of plant-based nutrition. Known as the Blue Zones diets, they consist of a variety of whole and fermented foods (like kefir). The Okinawa Diet focuses on fresh vegetables and fruits with occasional small offerings of highest-quality meat or seafood. The Okinawans' philosophy of moderation factors into their exceptional longevity: Eat only until you are 80 percent full. The popular Mediterranean Diet consists of anti-inflammatory foods that guard against cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Strive to eat only high-quality meat and seafood in moderation. It's best if they're organic, grass- or free-range fed.

Racquet sports, strength training, swimming, aerobics and cycling all are shown to extend life. Researchers examining more than 80,000 adults found these activities helped reduce the risk of death, specifically 47 percent lower among adults who play a sport like tennis or badminton. The risk from cardiovascular disease alone was 56 percent lower among those who played racquet sports. "It's not only how much and how often, but also what type of exercise you do that seems to make the difference," the study concluded.

Another study found older adults who strength-trained at least twice a week decreased their risk of death from any cause by 46 percent, along with a 41 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and 19 percent lower from cancer.

Joggers need not be speedy. A Danish study found those who follow a slower pace also enjoyed a lower mortality rate than non-joggers. Faster runners didn't live longer than non-running counterparts.

Swimmer, are ya? A study of more than 40,000 men from 20 to 90 discovered that those who swam or did other swim workouts like water jogging or aqua aerobics cut their death risk from any cause nearly in half compared with men who were either sedentary, walked regularly, or were runners.

Intermittent fasting leads to weight loss, increases insulin sensitivity and lowers bad cholesterol levels. Researchers now believe it's also a life-extender. When one's body isn't busy digesting or trying to eliminate toxins but enters a fasting state, it "switches off" and allows cells to repair while creating new stem cells.

Dr. Axe reports, "A 2015 study reported that fasting periodically--they recommend reducing calorie counts five days once a month--made an impact that lasted for up to six months after the fast. They found that biomarkers for cancer, aging, diabetes and cardiovascular disease all decreased after fasting." There also are intermittent fasting benefits for shorter periods.

Sitting at a desk all day could be as harmful as cigarette breaks, the story also says. Negative effects can be overcome by exercising daily. Adding an hour of moderate physical activity outside work hours can cancel out the increased risk of death that comes with not moving throughout the day. "Luckily, the movements are cumulative, so a few minutes here and there of extra movement throughout the day can add up."

Watching hours of television means a person's remaining sedentary. People who watched TV for over three hours at a sitting doubled their risk of early death when compared to those who watched up to an hour. Another study found watching more than five hours of TV daily increased the risk of dying from a blood clot in the lungs.

Having friends and family can help us live longer. "The Harvard Happiness Study found strong, meaningful social connections and relationships are the keys to happy lives. ... [P]eople who are lonely or isolated have a higher risk of death than those with a strong social network. If your friends live far away, though, using Facebook or other social networks to stay connected can be a powerful life extender.

Three final pieces of advice: Read. A study of over 3,600 people found book readers, on average, lived almost two years longer than those who didn't read. Those who read up to 3.5 hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over the course of the 12 years participants were tracked.

Eating certain peppers can reduce risk of death by 13 percent. While researchers don't understand why, all signs point to the antimicrobials in capsaicin, the active ingredient that fights bacteria and enhances health.

A 20-year study of 75,000 women found those attending church more than once a week had a 33 percent lower risk of dying than people who never attended. Even those who attended once weekly or attended at times lowered their risk by 26 percent and 13 percent respectively.

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Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 12/19/2017

Print Headline: How can you do it?

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