Stress Hack: Create a Circle of Friends

“There are many different ways to cope with stress. We know from a lot of different studies that having close personal relationships—people with whom you can talk, with whom you can share your feelings—can be helpful,” says Kiecolt-Glaser. “So spending time with family and friends in order to maintain those relationships is perhaps one of the most crucial things you can do as a stress reducer.”

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Nutrition Hack: Prepping for a Trip

Bring healthy snacks. There are some great portable snack options, including fruit, vegetables, and nuts. Be sure to include a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrate to give you the nutrition and energy you need.

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Longevity Hack: Increase Brain Size

Sharpen memory. Although brain size decreases as you age, research has shown that exercise can actually help reverse that — at any age. One study found that physical activity helped participants build measurable increases in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that enables you to create and store memories.

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Health Hack: Ditch the Processed Food

Processed foods can cause inflammation in the lining of our GI tract, the exact place where food is absorbed. Your gut may not recognize what you’ve eaten as digestible food and instead interprets the presence of foods like high-fructose corn syrup or artificial ingredients as an “attacker.” This sets off an inflammatory response in which our bodies are literally fighting these foods as if they were an infection. Sticking to whole foods such as whole fruits, veggies, and unprocessed meats, can lower the stress this creates on your body.

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Fitness Hack: Big Dividends Await Those Who Exercise

The Impact of Physical Activity on Your Health

Regular physical activity can produce long-term health benefits. It can help:

  • Prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke (the three leading health-related causes of death)
  • Control weight
  • Make your muscles stronger
  • Reduce fat
  • Promote strong bone, muscle, and joint development
  • Condition heart and lungs
  • Build overall strength and endurance
  • Improve sleep
  • Decrease potential of becoming depressed
  • Increase your energy and self-esteem
  • Relieve stress
  • Increase your chances of living longer

When you are not physically active, you are more at risk for:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer

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Stress Hack: 3 Kinds of Stress

Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Some people may cope with stress more effectively or recover from stressful events more quickly than others. There are different types of stress—all of which carry physical and mental health risks. A stressor may be a one time or short term occurrence, or it can be an occurrence that keeps happening over a long period of time.

Examples of stress include:

Routine stress related to the pressures of work, school, family and other daily responsibilities

Stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness

Traumatic stress experienced in an event like a major accident, war, assault, or a natural disaster where people may be in danger of being seriously hurt or killed. People who experience traumatic stress often experience temporary symptoms of mental illness, but most recover naturally soon after.

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Longevity Hack: It’s All About the BMI

Another sure way to improve your chances for a longer, healthier life is to shed excess weight. “Being obese—with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30—is a risk factor for early death, and it shortens your active life expectancy,” Ferrucci says. BMI is an estimate of your body fat based on your weight and height. Use NIH’s BMI calculator to determine your BMI. Talk with a doctor about reaching a healthy weight.

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