Make note: There are a lot more tips for longevity in the blog post than we had time for in the podcast episode, so make sure you listen to this episode as well as read the entire post.
Life expectancy in America is 78.7 years according to Data from the National Vital Statistics System.(1) Although it varies from state to state. If you're an Asian American, your lifespan is expected to be about eight years longer. (2)
Most people say they want to live a longer life, although the number of years is not the only goal. Keep in mind that a long life span is not the same as a quality health span. We want to live a healthier life, longer.
So how do we go about healthy aging? That is the topic on this episode of A Healthy Bite. Nikki and Ashley from The Habit Society are joining me for a discussion about how to make healthy habits stick.
Healthy Habits for a Longer Life
As mentioned in this podcast episode, there are numerous healthy habits you could employ in hopes of extending your life span. The challenge is prioritizing them and being consistent. Depending on willpower alone usually results in failure.
Any form of regular exercise is better than none at all. However, there are a few forms of physical activity that have been shown to have specific benefits on a long and healthy life. (3)
- HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training – According to Harvard geneticist, Dr. David Sinclair, HIIT exercise induces sirtuin defenses (a class of protein that helps regulate cellular aging) which can defend cells against disease and aging. (This is also true for intermittent fasting.) HIIT training can be done by doing sprints, jumping rope, burpees, or whatever it takes to increase your heart rate for four minutes at a time which will trigger a hypoxic response. This simply means it's hard to breathe, i.e. you're working your butt off!
- Strength train at least twice, but preferably three times per week, allowing a 48 hour recovery period between workouts. Kettlebells, dumbells, or whatever you have on hand will work. In between strength training days, practice active recovery exercises such as swimming or biking (at an intensity level where you can still have a comfortable conversation.)
- Yoga – Many studies have been done on the health benefits of yoga. Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as metabolic syndrome to mention two important ones. (4) In addition, yoga is associated with improved mental health.
Yoga has benefits beyond physical fitness
One of my most recent favorite tips for longevity was to start practicing yoga. I've practiced on and off over the years but recently started being consistent along with my twelve-year-old daughter. I was amazed at how much it improved my outlook.
In a study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, researchers found that 12 weeks of yoga slowed cellular aging. The program consisted of 90 minutes of yoga that included physical postures, breathing, and meditation for five days a week over 12 weeks. Researchers measured biomarkers of cellular aging and stress before and after the 12-week yoga program and found that yoga slowed down markers of cellular aging and lowered measures of inflammation in the body. Yoga Can Slow Effects of Stress and Aging, Studies Suggest
On a side note, yoga doesn't have to include spirituality. Of all the yoga classes I've been to, it has never been mentioned. Over 90% of people who begin practicing yoga do so for physical exercise, improved health, or stress management. You may even be surprised to know that practicing yoga changes the brain.
In fact, it helps to prevent your brain from shrinking as you age!
the protection of this gray matter brain volume is mostly in the left hemisphere, the side of your brain associated with positive emotions and experiences and parasympathetic nervous system activity—your “rest and digest” relaxation system. Why Does Anyone Do Yoga, Anyway?
According to Blue Zones, by Dan Buettner, many Okinawans practice a dance-like version of Tai Chi. The benefits of practicing Tai Chi are exceptional and it's especially beneficial for people over the age of fifty. Women who practice Tai Chi can expect protection against osteoporosis, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, lowered cholesterol levels, and more.
In addition, Tai Chi is often used to aid in recovery after a heart attack as it helps to lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as cortisol levels. Practicing Tai Chi twice weekly was shown in studies to improve sleep. (5)
People who regularly participated in swimming had a 28% lower risk of all-cause mortality compared with people who did no swimming. This also encompasses deep water running. (10)
One of the easiest tips for longevity is to practice contrast therapy. You can do this without any special equipment. Many people practice contrast therapy in the shower going from hot to cold several times. As I mentioned, many people, myself included use infrared sauna and cold showers.
Hot and cold therapy has been studied for its health benefits not only for athletes or to recover from injury but also for helping us reach a “ripe old age.” Going from hot to cold, whether you work out or use a sauna and follow up with a cold shower, is associated with increased life expectancy.
The place I mentioned in the podcast episode was Jeju Sauna, located in Duluth, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. Known in South Korea as jjimjilbangs, this bathhouse has temperature-controlled water, salt sauna, jade stones, and so much more. Not a typical American-style sauna, but an excellent place to invest in longevity. If you get a chance to visit, you can practice contrast therapy by intermittently dipping in the cold water tub and then hot sauna bathing. Make sure to read the “before you go” section to prepare yourself if you do visit!
Get enough sleep, quality sleep, and at cooler temperatures. Less than six hours of sleep per night leads to a 10% increase in death risk. (6) Lowering the temperature while you sleep encourages the production of human growth hormone which keeps you younger longer. In addition, it helps improve metabolism, lowers cortisol, and inflammation. Sleeping at cooler temperatures helps you get more restorative sleep because it allows you to get into deep sleep faster.
There are two excellent ways to stay cool at night that I recommend:
- Sleep naked. Here's why.
- Use a chilipad and turn it down before you go to sleep. (I turn mine down to 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit while I sleep!) Listen to a podcast episode about this sleep hack here.
According to research, fasting one day and eating resulted in a boost in the longevity genes after only three to ten weeks. (7) Dr. David Sinclair says some fasting is better than none and if you're never hungry, that's the worst thing you can do. In fact, he says that it's not so much what you eat as when (i.e. following a specific macro ratio is not as important to longevity as is slightly stressing your body with some intermittent fasting.)
In addition, intermittent fasting can help you maintain a healthy weight, which also can add years to your life. Moderate obesity reduces the average lifespan by about 3 years according to Science Daily. (8)
Use a Body Mass Index (BMI) chart to find your healthy body weight and set that as a goal. Implementing the healthy behaviors mentioned in this article and on this podcast episode will
Although we didn't discuss dietary habits for longevity, following a healthy diet is certainly one of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle.
While intermittent fasting is important, research shows that following a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean Diet lowers the risk of heart disease. It is touted as the world's healthiest diet. With an emphasis on healthy fats such as olive oil, this diet is also proven to improve brain function, ward off dementia, and strengthen bones.
Eating a Mediterranean Diet also means you get lots of fiber from whole grains and vegetables, which can help with satiety. This way of eating also boasts plenty of antioxidants that detoxify cell-damaging chemicals in your body.
While the Mediterranean Diet is great, a similar but in the opinion of many, better diet, is the Okinawan diet. With a bit less focus on grains, it is predominantly made up of vegetables. Not to mention the practice of only eating until you're 80% full. Something the people of Japan call Hara hachi bu. (And also a great way to conquer emotional eating.)
One of the findings from the blue zones is that the people in Okinawa, Japan eat plenty of veggies. Around 60% of the Okinawan diet is made up of vegetables while only about 2% of the diet is made up of fish and meat. Stands to reason since eating more vegetables is associated with a lower risk of disease.
Eat more whole foods and less processed foods. Try Hearts of Palm, it's a Blue Zone approved food that is outside the norm of every day and so versatile. I love it straight out of the jar or made into a variety of dishes.
Other Tips for Longevity
- Instead of sitting down when talking on the phone, walk, work around the house, or even doing light gardening. (You can use headphones or just pull weeds with one hand.)
- It's not always about doing more, so make sure to structure some time for rest, whether that is relaxing in a hammock with a good book, sitting in the sauna, or taking a nap.
- Learn to manage stress, which can cause your body to produce too much cortisol, which puts you at a higher risk for health problems.
- Spend time with people you love, often. Enjoy life, laugh more, and make sure to strengthen your sense of purpose. Don't let your social life consist of social media only.
- Keep your Vitamin D levels in the optimal range.
- Don't have a negative attitude towards aging, research shows that a positive attitude can result in an 11-15% longer life and optimism is associated with longevity.
- Keep your immune system in peak condition to avoid chronic disease and early death. For each chronic disease or condition, life expectancy is reduced between 0.4-2.6 years. (9)
- Manage conditions such as high blood pressure with diet and exercise as much as possible. Ask your doctor to work with you on this as part of your wellness routine.
- Grow your own veggies. Not only is it a way to provide food for your table, it's a good form of nutritious movement.
- Prayer is scientifically proven to make you healthier, no matter the denomination.
- Enjoy your life! If you hate lifting weights but love dancing, then dance! Doing an exercise you love has way more benefits than forcing yourself to do an exercise you hate just because of a study or some research.
Habits to Break
If you plan to experience good physical and mental well-being into your 80's and beyond, there are a few habits you should break.
- Smoking. Although you may see some centenarians who say they smoked all their life, it is the exception rather than the norm. Using cigarettes is the most preventable cause of death. (This includes vaping, sorry!)
- Release anger and bitterness. As Elsa sings, “Let it go.” Holding on to unforgiveness can have a negative effect on your health.
- Skimping on sleep and catching up on the weekend. Study after study shows that consistent good quality sleep is one of the pillars of long life.
- Watching too much television is associated with a shorter life expectancy. Research shows that TV viewing time may be associated with a loss of life that is comparable to other major chronic disease risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity.(11)
- If you tend to be a melancholy person, actively pursue happiness like a hobby, research, discover, and implement ways to be an optimistic person. This takes practice but it can be done. (Make note of the company you keep, if your friend is always dragging you down it might be time to take a break or challenge one another to be more upbeat!) Also, spend more time with people who think positively. We tend to pick up on the attitude of our social networks, so if your spouse is optimistic, spending more time together might help you!
- Don't fear checkups, but don't obsess over them either; adequate access to a quality healthcare system can add more than a year to your life!
- Stop living in your comfort zone 24/7, push yourself to try new things, learn new skills and enrich your life through volunteer work.
Books Referenced in this Episode & Article
- LifeSpan Why We Age and Why We Don't Have To
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat by Naomi Moriyama
On a final note, the earlier in life you adopt these longevity habits, the better your chances of adding years, or even decades onto your life. Even if you are a young adult, don't put off a healthy lifestyle until you have health issues. You can gain quality of life as well as years. As we mentioned in the podcast, preventing these health risks is easier than treating them.
However, it is important not to get so caught up in “doing” all the right things that you forget to enjoy life. There's a lot to be said for simply being happy and embracing life. If you're so busy you can't imagine spending 30 minutes sitting in a sauna or lying in a hammock reading a book, then you might want to watch The Longevity Film.
You can also watch this episode on YouTube:
Meet the founders of The Habit Society
In the podcast, Ashley and Nikki share that they were keeping one another accountable for habits they wanted to stick to when they had the thought that others could benefit from what they were learning. The Habit Society was born.
Ashley is a licensed physiotherapist who is earning her holistic nutrition and health coach certificate. She's always had a passion for healthy living mainly through diet, exercise, and sleep and she loves helping people do the same.
Nikki has a business and accounting background, but she's always been very interested in psychology and the science of healthy living.
Sources mentioned by Nikki and Ashley in the podcast
Transgenic Mice with a Reduced Core Body Temperature Have an Increased Life Span: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17082459/
Sources in this article:
1 – https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/life-expectancy.htm
2 – https://medicalresearch.com/author-interviews/why-do-asian-americans-live-so-much-longer-than-other-ethnic-groups/15884/
3 – Gremeaux, Vincent, et al. “Exercise and longevity.” Maturitas 73.4 (2012): 312-317.
4 – Chu, Paula et al. “The effectiveness of yoga in modifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” European journal of preventive cardiology vol. 23,3 (2016): 291-307. doi:10.1177/2047487314562741
5 – Chan, Aileen Wk et al. “Tai chi qigong as a means to improve night-time sleep quality among older adults with cognitive impairment: a pilot randomized controlled trial.” Clinical interventions in aging vol. 11 1277-1286. 16 Sep. 2016, doi:10.2147/CIA.S111927
6 – American College of Cardiology. “Sleeping less than six hours a night may increase cardiovascular risk.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190114144152.htm>.
7 – Wegman, Martin P et al. “Practicality of intermittent fasting in humans and its effect on oxidative stress and genes related to aging and metabolism.” Rejuvenation research vol. 18,2 (2015): 162-72. doi:10.1089/rej.2014.1624
8 – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319224823.htm
9 – DuGoff, Eva H et al. “Multiple chronic conditions and life expectancy: a life table analysis.” Medical care vol. 52,8 (2014): 688-94. doi:10.1097/MLR.0000000000000166
10 – https://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/ijare/vol2/iss3/3/
11 – Veerman, J Lennert et al. “Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis.” British journal of sports medicine vol. 46,13 (2012): 927-30. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2011-085662
Tips for Longevity with The Habit Society
Announcer: [00:00:00] Welcome to a healthy bite. You're one nibble closer to a more satisfying way of life. A healthier you and bite size bits of healthy motivation. Now let's dig in on the dish with Rebecca Huff.
Rebecca: [00:00:20] Awesome. Today I'm here with Ashley and Nikki from the habit society. And we're going to talk about forming healthy habits with the goal of extending lifespan. So we're talking about longevity and this is one of my favorite topics. So I'm so excited to pick your brains and find out what you all have learned and what kind of habits you have.
And I know you have a really popular newsletter that you send out before we get started talking about longevity. Can you tell me a little bit about what the habits society is and what you girls do?
Ashley & Nikki: [00:00:52] Yeah, absolutely. So, first of all, thanks for having us. We're also very excited. so yeah, the habits society is a three-minute newsletter every Monday to help you create and sustain healthy habits.
So we focus on a wide range of topics with information curated from the grades and the fields all relating to cultivating healthy habits and of course breaking the bad ones also. So the purpose is to show people that small choices in your everyday life are just as important as the big ones because of the compound effect.
So basically there's this book called the compound effect by Darren Hardy and it's based on the principle. That, everyday decisions will either take you to the life you desire or to disaster. So he uses the example of a $4 day coffee. So it doesn't sound like a lot, but every day it compounds on each other.
And I think the number at the end of your life is something like $54,000. So, this is just one example of the compounds effect, but it's extremely important. It can be translated into every realm of your life, basically. So that's a lot of what we talk about in the newsletter. So we try to emphasize the importance and power of daily actions and habits.
Yeah. And our, our main, audience, the people we aim for are people who are interested in making changes, but don't exactly know where to start. So a lot of us do try to make changes, but do with the wrong strategy. So let's say relying on willpower or motivation or not planning anything. And that leads us to think that we've failed and that we can improve.
That's not the case. It's not that we've failed. It's just that we're using the wrong methods or the wrong system. So we're really here to provide our readers, the right concepts in a fun digestible way and give our readers an actionable items so that they can actually make changes and improve on their lives.
So we, we decided to create this because we were like everyone else, you know, we had all these good habits that we wanted to stick to every day, meditating, eating healthy, reading, working out. But we weren't able to stick to a rhythm of doing these things habitually, but we would speak about it a lot. Like, okay, this time we're actually going to stick to it.
So you know how it goes, but we basically accountability partners at the beginning of the first lockdown. So I would send Nikki a text. I meditated for 10 minutes because that's what I wanted to work on. She would send one back since she worked out for 45 minutes, that was more in line with what she wanted to improve on.
And it was really a way for us to stick to our habits. Which I'm sure a lot of people can relate to. It was really hard at the beginning when we had so much time everybody's locked in their houses. I mean, now we think back and it's like, I could have done this, this and this, but in the moment, so much emptiness and no plans for the day.
It's hard to really get done everything that you want to get done. So, you know, we sent articles back and forth books back and forth. And then we thought, maybe we're not the only ones who are interested in all this. So we wanted to share everything we learned and we want it to grow our accountability group to more than just the two of us.
So that's what we did. Exactly.
Rebecca: [00:03:43] That's really smart. I know because I've had conversations with my best friend a lot of times, and I'm like, wow, we should have recorded this. It was so good. Then we can go back and reference our little pep talks like all the things that you wish you could remember, I'm the same as you. I have all of these habits that I want to make sure I do, but sometimes, like you said, I struggle with consistency. And you said, you know that a lot of times people will try to depend on willpower or determination alone, to make these healthy habits. What do you recommend instead of this, you know, determination because a lot of people think, oh, if I just, you know, if I just really have strong willpower, but that's not the case. So tell us what you've found to be the case for forming healthy, healthier habits.
Ashley & Nikki: [00:04:32] Well, a big one is to not rely on motivation. So, you know, everyone says, I'll start Monday, but really what's going to change on Monday? Like it's the same day, you've had thousands of Mondays in your life and nothing has changed. So we tend not to rely on motivation and that's something we talk about a lot. So my biggest piece of advice would be to use something called implementation intention.
So it's basically a way to help you plan, which has been scientifically proven to work. Uh, so it goes like this. I will behavior at time and location. So an example would be I do yoga at 6:00 PM in my living rooms, or I will meditate for 10 minutes on my couch at 7:00 AM. Sorry. So, you really need a plan.
That's, that's a big thing. And this implementation intention also makes it concrete. And it's also kind of embarrassing to yourself if you don't do it because you know, you taking the time to write it down. So, you know, it's kind of embarrassing to yourself in a way. And writing it down is super important. And accountability partners
of course, if somebody is looking for to start some habits, We're obviously big on accountability partners. So find someone who you can text every day. And so that, yeah. When I don't work out in the morning, I know that if I don't do it, I have to text Nikki that I didn't do it yeah. To yourself, but even better seven outsides or somebody you don't want to disappoint, it can be an account accountability partner, can be accountability groups.
So that's obviously what we're trying to create. And we started a slack group for this reason. So we say all our habits every day and we hold each other accountable. We kind of put ourselves on the podium. Yeah. We tell everybody what we want to do. And then, you know, we all follow up and make sure, cheer each other on.
That kind of thing.
Rebecca: [00:06:19] Awesome. I don't want to get too far off track, but I love the idea of the slack group because that that's just a quick and easy way to communicate with one another. And one of the ways that I have found, I actually have a meeting with my accountability partners this afternoon, and that has definitely helped me to do the things I say I'm going to do and reach those goals that I set for myself.
So a hundred percent agree. If you don't have an accountability partner, you need to find one, someone that you can depend on and that can depend on you because that helps to really cement those habits. But I did, when I mentioned that one of the things that has helped me, it's kind of what you mentioned, and you may even know the name for this since you're habit gurus, where you.
Connect a habit with something that you already do. For example, if you always shower every night and you want to start Gua Sha practice, you know, to start getting your sculpting your face or whatever, you know, right. As soon as I get out of the shower, I'll you this new habit. So you're like hooking those two things together.
A lot of people like will brush their teeth. The very first thing, when they get up in the morning, it's easy to connect a habit to that. Do you know, is there a specific term.
Ashley & Nikki: [00:07:33] Yeah, it's called habit stacking, stacking stacking. Yes. So a funny example that I used to do whenever I brushed my teeth, I would do 10 squats.
So it was just a way to like, get my heart rate going, like first thing in the morning. But yeah, a bunch of examples you can do with habit stacking, it's really helpful.
Rebecca: [00:07:51] habit stacking. That's what, that's the way I form all of my new healthy habits. So, what types of tips getting really into the subject of today's podcast about longevity?
We all want to live longer, but not just longer, we want to live healthier, more quality days. You know, we don't want to be so out of shape and unhealthy that we can't really enjoy the last years of our lives. So what are some of the longevity habits that you've heard of, or that you recommend, or even practice for yourself?
Ashley & Nikki: [00:08:22] Yeah. So I mentioned as a general note, the longevity research shows that it's beneficial to stress our bodies a bit. So all of these longevity inducing methods work because there's stress in our bodies just enough to create the proper adjustments. We don't want chronic stress that obviously causes damage.
The keys for it to be temporary. So you'll see that with a few of the tips. We'll, we'll talk about a bit of adversity is good for epigenome because it stimulates the longevity genes. Basically it, it activates the disaster response in our body. So not just to improve our lifespan, but our health span, like you were mentioning, that's really what all of us strive for.
So the number one, tip that. I mean, I love this one and this is Dr. Davidson Sinclair, the author of lifespan, his number one tip for longevity, and it's fasting. So, like I mentioned, it puts your body into survival mode. So this tells the longevity genes to turn on burst boosts your immune system ward off disease,
slow down aging. Obviously this is periodic fascinating. It's not meant to result in malnutrition. It's an acute stress. It's not something that it's not starvation. It promotes the, the two big things; why it's so effective is that it promotes autophagy on apoptosis. So autophagy is basically your body's recycling system to get rid of the old cells and turn them into new, stronger cells.
At apop-apopptosis is programmed cell death of abnormal and pre-cancerous cells. So all these, you know, the bad, the bad ones you want to get out of your body. And when these two things don't happen, that's when the cancer comes, the effects of aging, a lot of the negative effects because everything, all the old bad stuff is staying in your body.
So when you fast, this really helps. And especially for mitochondria, which is like the little battery packs of our cells, they, when you put your body in a fasted state, they think, oh, this might happen again. I need to adapt to this. So they make newer, stronger, more resilient mitochondria. And this is super, super important for aging.
So this can be intermittent fasting. So this is something that we both got into a few years ago. We do, we try to do about a 16 hour fast usually, but it doesn't need to be like that. It can be anywhere from 12 hour fast. So you're eating for 12 hours a day and fasting for 12 hours of the day. Some people do a few days more of a therapeutic fast people do weeks on end.
That's more for diabetics and people with obesity, but you can really tailor it to your own life, whatever you feel best on. And it's, it's really a experimentation with this one, I would say exactly. And if it is something that you would want to implement, We definitely talk a lot about in the newsletter, how you have to start slow.
So if it's your first time ever fast, say like, you don't want to start with 16 hours. Like, what I would do was just eat breakfast to half an hour later and then an hour later, and then an hour and a half later. So it's super important to go slow with every other habit that you're trying to implement.
Rebecca: [00:11:08] Yeah, for sure. That was the best Definition or description of mitochondria that I've ever heard. I like the analogies that you use. It really made it easy to understand. And I've studied a little bit about mitochondria and I understand the concept, but the way you said it, I think it makes it very.
Easy to understand. And, I love intermittent fasting and I think it's really, really good for you. I do it kind of opposite from a what, a lot of people do. I would rather eat early in the day and then fast before bed because I found that because I'm really geeky about testing and seeing what my body does, my blood sugar
levels like my glucose, when I take my glucose test, sometimes in the mornings, I don't do that every day, but just, you know, when I want to see how, how are things going? Glucose is higher if I eat supper than if I don't, even if I have two or three hours. So if I fast in the morning and then I eat later in the day, my glucose is higher than if I eat in the morning and fast in the evening, even though it's really strange because I prefer
to eat at night than in the morning, but I make worse choices if I eat. If I eat in the morning and I get my protein and my good fats and everything in the morning, then I'm more satiated. And then I can skip the things that I crave. If I fast in the morning, then sometimes by like two or three o'clock.
Oh, I just want to eat anything, whatever. So you have to do what works for you. And that's what works for me. But I, I think the research is definitely showing that intermittent fasting is just a really healthy practice. And of course, like anything, it can be taken too far. So like you said, You have to make sure you're getting your nutrients in.
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W how did you get started with intermittent fasting? How did you create that as a new healthy habit?
Ashley & Nikki: [00:13:52] So I'm similar to you. I prefer to finish eating earlier in the day. So it was pretty easy, easy, relatively when I was starting, because I would just eat dinner super early. I'd be done around six. And then by the next day, if I just let's say did a fasted workout in the morning, by the time I showered at everything and ate, it was probably like a 14 to 16 hour fast.
I do find it's easier that way, at least for me, and I think that's more how we evolved, you know, eating with the sun basically. So when the sun's going down, especially Montreal winters, it's about 430. It makes it pretty easy to, to finish eating earlier. And that's what I did. And like Nikki said, you just add on half an hour every few days because you get used to it the first week, the first two weeks, it's going to be hard. If you're doing like a 14 or 16 hour fast, 12 hours should be pretty doable for most people, but you need to ease your body into it. It is possible you won't feel optimal the first few times you're doing it and that's okay. It's going slow, like every other habit. Really. Exactly. Yeah. And I just want to comment on one thing you were saying with the blood glucose.
I don't know if you've read that Dr. Jason Fung's book about fasting. Yeah. So there's the study in there that says they had the study with one meal a day. And they would eat the same amount of calories for breakfast and for dinner, the two different study groups and the glucose and insulin levels went much higher for the only dinner group.
So again, ancestral, I think there's, there's a link here with, with how our circadian rhythm and everything comes together. And I believe it's even more for women from what I've heard.
Rebecca: [00:15:30] Right. And I actually measure a lot of other things with different apps and different things. One of the things I use is this Oura ring.
But I can see, like my sleep quality is different if I stop eating earlier in the day, like I can get my sleep quality like into the 98, 99 optimal range if I'm doing all of my good habits and everything, which I feel like sleep is one of the most important longevity habits that so many people overlook, they're like, oh, I can get by on six hours, but while they might be functioning on six hours of sleep, their body is sacrificing something.
I think, of course, everybody doesn't have to get exactly eight hours. But I think when you get down to six and below six, it's really hard on your body. What other longevity habits? So you mentioned intermittent fasting, and I talked a little bit about sleep. What other habits do you have up your sleeve?
Ashley & Nikki: [00:16:25] Definitely exercise. So telomeres shorter telomeres. These are the ends of the little shoelace ends of our chromosomes. When they're shorter, it's a sign of aging and they've seen in studies that people who exercise more, actually have longer telomeres. So like fasting, exercise is a stress on your body. It's an acute stress.
So it activates that survival mode. It gets your energy production up. It forces your muscles to grow a lot more blood vessels to carry a lot more oxygen. So. It's probably obvious, but it's a very important one. And especially for longevity, the, the, intensity matters a lot. So the HIIT training is great.
I mean, I personally do a very big mix. I like to walk. I like to run. I like to do weight training, yoga, but specifically for this topic, you need to get your respiration rate up. You need to get your heart rate up. This is what engages the greatest number of those health promoting genes, especially in older people, which obviously at an age group where you want to be promoting that longevity a lot, you, you want to be breathing heavily basically is the easiest way to put it when you're breathing heavier, activating that, that stress response.
Yeah, well said another, another big one is also exposing yourself to cold and hot temperatures. So it's the same logic. So you want to expose yourself to uncomfortable temperatures so that you put your body in acute stress. So this is the concept of homeostasis. So it's the tendency for a living things to seek a stable equilibrium.
Which is like the guiding force behind the survival circuits. So if you're subject to subject your body to a state of its regular temperature, the survival kit is initiated. So there's, there's a couple of studies to back this up. So there was one study done with mice and they decreased their body temperature by half percent.
And it actually resulted in a 12 to 20% increase in life. And there was also a study done in Finland, uh, shows a drop in heart disease, heart attacks, and all causes of mortality after regular sauna use. So we can send you those references if you want to put them in the show notes, but they're super interesting studies and yeah.
So exposing yourself to, extreme temperatures is one for sure. That's why we've implemented a cold shower a routine, right?
Rebecca: [00:18:38] I, yeah. And that's something that I practice too, then another good way to do that. If you happen to have access to an infrared sauna, that's what I do. I got a sauna space sauna, and I will sit in that and read a book for about 30, 35.
Sometimes 40, and then I will get in a cold shower and let the cold shower like hit my vagus nerve, so that it, does the hot and cold. Another fun thing to do if you're ever in Atlanta, there's a place called Jeju sauna. And it's kind of like the Korean sauna. I don't know if you've ever seen one of those maybe on a Korean drama.
Oh my gosh, it's amazing. Everybody goes and like it it's segregated men and women. You get naked. And then there's like all these like different saunas you can send in like a wet sauna, like with the steam rocks, and then an infrared sauna. And then they have like these cold, like ice baths.
You can, it looks like a hot tub, but it's a cold tub. And so you can get back and forth and it's super hygienic, super clean. They have showers. You can't enter until you've had a shower and all this it's amazing. And you can spend the night, and I think it's like $25 for 24 hours or something. It's so awesome.
I go there with my girlfriends. It's so much fun, but anyways, there's a lot of different ways to practice the hot and cold. So. And now not everyone has a sauna, but they're pretty, you know, it's a good goal to save up for, if you can sock away a little bit of money as a practice to get one, and you don't have to get the wooden kind, you can get like mine, this canvas.
And so it's portable. It's really easy to use. Or you can even, go where you can buy a package of two or three sauna visits and that kind of thing. So that's fun. That's another way. Or just in the shower, just hot and cold in the shower.
Ashley & Nikki: [00:20:22] And a nice way to combine, you can do exercise and extreme temperatures.
So you're putting double the acute stress, which, uh, it's like fasting while you're working out. So again, two of those stresses together. Yeah. And then there's just some habits to avoid, to, to, uh, prevent excess DNA damage. So, you know, cigarette smoking is like plastic, water bottles and containers, especially when you, we microwave them, UV lights, x-rays gamma rays, you know, so things like that as well.
Rebecca: [00:20:52] Yeah, definitely. I love all of those. And I feel like with myself, I learned so many things about good, healthy habits, that sometimes I feel like I'm trying to cram all of these healthy habits into my day. And I forget that. I mean, it's fun for me. It's like all these healthy habits become like a little hobby for me, maybe, but for some people who are like, oh, I've got to do this thing.
You know, for example, someone who doesn't really work out at all, they don't like working. And maybe they haven't found the type of exercise that they actually enjoy doing or whatever they know they should do it, but day after day, they say like you were talking about, I'll do I'll start on Monday, you know?
Okay. Well, today's not a great day to work out tomorrow. I'm going to do it for sure. How do people that have kind of this mindset or, you know, they just keep thinking that tomorrow's the day they're going to get started on this exercise habits. Do you have any tips for those people who just really can't get their self started?
Ashley & Nikki: [00:21:51] Yeah, definitely. First off you can subscribe, every Monday. No, really the biggest tip is to start small, choose one habit that you want to start, and this is not the time to dream dream big. It may feel great to say you're going to start five new habits every morning, or you're going to meditate for 30 minutes every morning.
It's not realistic. People usually end up failing. Again, it's not their fault, but it's the system. It's the goals that they, that they made for themselves. So instead you want to work on one habit and start small. Once that's integrated into your routine, then you can increase the intensity, the duration, et cetera.
So let's say for working out. Five minutes every morning. That's it. You don't even have to sweat. You don't need to need to get your heart rate up. Just get that five minute routine into your day. Maybe it's going for a walk. Maybe it's going up and down your stairs in your house. It doesn't need to be crazy.
The routine is what is most important. You'll get to the point where you can then start to sweat and build muscle and do all these things first. Just integrate it. And like what you were saying before that people don't enjoy working out. Yeah. I mean, when I get out of the routine of working out, I also don't enjoy working out.
So I think people have a tendency to enjoy things they're good at. So if you're not in a workout routine, you're, you know, you're not going to be in shape, which means you're not good at it. So you're not like you're not, don't expect to enjoy it the first few times. And that's why this start small is so important because.
You only don't have to enjoy it for two to five minutes, and it's not as unenjoyable as a 45 minute workout. So if you build up slowly, slowly, slowly, it also builds up your enjoyment towards it because you get better at it. Yeah. Yeah, and you can set up a good reward. So it can be as simple as just giving a nice yes.
At the end of it. You know, that's what I did after my flips hours when I was trying to get into it. Cause it's hard. I mean, you feel incredible when you get out, but you know, right away, you just need to give yourself that little bit of, of encouragement for doing such an uncomfortable thing, or it could be, you know, going to your favorite brunch place.
Obviously don't get the pancakes with the extra chocolate after you work out, but you can still give yourself some enjoyment, go to your favorite coffee shop, whatever it is, give yourself a little reward. That's still helping. And , another one is environment. Environment is really, really everything. So if you want to do yoga in the morning, put your yoga mat out and choose the video or the sequence that you want to follow.
If it's weight training, put your weights out and write on a little paper, your plan, the exercises you're going to do the reps, the sets, even the weights. If you want to read before bed, you put your book on your nightstand. So environment is really everything you want to make everything as easy as possible.
Pretty much goes for every habit. And obviously for breaking habits, you want to make it as hard as possible. But, I'm sure you've read James Clear's book called atomic. Yeah. One of the keys that he talks about is removing friction. So we're, we're lazy by nature and that's okay. We're going to take the path of least resistance, but we need to, we need to work with this.
So it's really amazing to see how little it takes for our brains to decide to decide that something's too hard and that's not worth it, but literally putting out your workout clothes, your running shoes the night before you want to do that. Well, eliminate at least part of the friction. So you need to make it as easy as possible in order to accomplish it.
Exactly like something as simple as putting out your workout clothes before or the night before, just reduces that friction and then even putting on your sh your shoes and tying up your shoe laces, your brain goes like, this is annoying. Like let's, let's just quit it. Instead. It's like these little, little things that really, really add up to make something go from hard to being easy.
Rebecca: [00:25:32] Right. Yeah, there's a lot of ways that people can exercise. I think that sometimes people think they have to go to a gym for it to count as exercise, but you can, like you said, walk up and down the stairs in your home. We used to live on the third floor of an apartment complex and just walking my dog, like multiple times a day would get in a lot of extra steps and get my heart rate up.
So yeah. A really good form of exercise. Another thing that I think a lot of people overlook is dancing is so much fun and it's a really good form of exercise. Even ballroom dancing, you'd be surprised how much your heart rate gets up when you're ballroom dancing. And not just because you're dancing with a cute guy 'cause, it's, it's hard work to make sure you're doing all those steps right. So do an exercise that's fun and it will make it easier to get into being a habit. Something that my gym that does, we go to a fitness center that's inside of like the hospital and, you know, they have an app and you have to sign up 24 to 48 hours in advance. There's a window of time. You can't sign up for a class a week in advance.
You have to sign up 24 to 48 hours before the class. And there are certain classes with certain instructors that if you don't show up, they will charge your account $5 for being a no show because they can only fit so many people, and especially since COVID. Only so many people can fit in the class. And if you sign up and don't show up, you knocked somebody else out of the opportunity to go to that class.
So if you don't show up five, five bucks, so that's an incentive to go out after a while that could add up.
I wanted to to ask another question about, and I think you covered this a lot with like the telomeres and the mitochondria and all of those things, but how do you feel forming healthy habits relates to longevity as far as, you know, building better health and preventing disease.
Ashley & Nikki: [00:27:27] Yeah. Well, anything healthy that you do really needs to be integrated into your routine or else you're never going to do it. So I mean also negative things like smoking is obviously a habit. It needs to be broken. And this actually the quickest way, according to Dr. David Sinclair to age yourself. So really getting into the habit of getting a good night's sleep, moving your body every day, eating the right foods for your body.
And let's see taking cold showers, all of these really healthy habits they all affect aging and it's the consistency of these good choices that are going to promote longevity. So it's not just doing them once. You're not going to see studies on mice, where they do the intervention one time. The results, you know, so it's the same for us.
So a lot of these healthy things, maybe not, are not the most enjoyable, which means that they need to be made into automatic habits into your day to day routine. At least doing them, you know, the 80, 20 rule, 80% of the time to get a lot of the benefits. So habits are the key for any health outcome that you're looking for and habits are also a way to prevent as opposed to fix.
So when you're young, you know, you don't feel the effects as much as you do when you, as you get older. So if you start habits as you're young, hopefully you'll, you know, age better and it's some way more of a preventative, way as opposed to fixing something that's already like a negative outcome.
Rebecca: [00:28:47] Yes, definitely. It's definitely easier to prevent disease than to cure it. And I think that's one of our goals that we have in common, the habits, society, and thatorganicmom is that we really emphasize forming healthy habits and breaking bad habits. That's kind of like my series 31 habits to make or break. And I have all of these other habits for future volumes.
So tell us a little bit about your newsletter. I looked through some of them, I know your archives are available. It seemed to me like you had like an inspirational kind of a picture and a quote and some tips and some interviews. Can you tell us a little breakdown of what people are going to get if they go sign up and actually where they do sign up to get the habit society newsletter?
Ashley & Nikki: [00:29:38] Yeah, we actually changed the structure of our newsletter very recently, so the past couple of weeks. So the first section that you'll get right now is called society scoop. So it's basically researched knowledge of, of actionable items that you can use in order to create and implement healthy habits.
So we're curating extras, experts from the field to bring to digestible and an easy way to, to learn about new habits that you can implement ways to create habits, ways to break bad ones, anything related to cultivating healthy habits. And then our second part of the newsletter is called the profile. So we basically profile someone that has been successful in their habits or has led them to become successful in their career.
And then we break down the habits they've used and the advice that they've they've given to other people. And then the third part is actually called the podium. So any reader that wants, can basically fill out a little survey that we have, for us to hold them accountable. So we basically post the habit that they want to be held accountable for
and if they want, they can put a pictures of themselves. And then basically they're declaring to everyone that like, this is the habit I want to stick to. Like everyone holds me accountable and we're going to follow up and put them in our newsletter in a few weeks or a month to see if they've actually stuck to it.
So it was basically, a big accountability group. So that's the new structure and you can find us, you can subscribe on thehabitssociety.com and you can follow us on Instagram, thehabitsociety, Twitter, the habits, society. And if you want to join our slack group, it's also in our newsletter every Monday.
Yeah. And you can email us at [email protected] Let us know who you are, what brought you to us. And we'd love to talk habits, obviously
Rebecca: [00:31:27] Super fun. I loved the, the format. I don't know if I saw the older format or the newer one, when I was browsing through, but I love what you doing there.
I think it's awesome. And I'm behind it a hundred percent. I just, I think forming habits is the best way to live a healthier lifestyle. So if you're listening, make sure you check it out, sign up for the newsletter. You won't regret it and when you do, make sure you create a little? Folder, especially if you have Gmail, create a little folder and just name it, the habit society, and you can put them all in there and then you can go back and refer to them when you want to like, Hey, am I doing all of my healthy habits I was planning on doing? You can go back and look at them. Yeah. Hey, that's how you hold yourself accountable. So thank you so much, Ashley and Nikki, it's been so fun talking to you. I can't wait for the listeners to hear this because I just think it's such an important topic and yeah, it really can be easy to form habits if you do it the right way.
Ashley & Nikki: [00:32:28] Thanks so much. It was great. Thank you so much.
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