Longevity Habits: The Big Benefits of Healthy Ageing, Without Becoming a Half-Starved Fitness Fanatic
After multiple successes, failures and (ongoing) battles with sugar cravings – I have implemented healthy ageing and longevity habits covering sleep, exercise, food, fasting, mindset, and lifestyle.
I vividly remember the sense of overwhelm the first time I went down the healthy aging rabbit hole. My initial enthusiasm came from reading Dr David Sinclair’s popular book ‘Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have to.’
Entering the world of longevity and healthy ageing online was a stark contrast to the simple concepts Sinclair laid out. Academics bickering, snake-oil supplement salespeople promising the impossible – and half-starved fitness gurus with no life telling me to be ‘just like them.’
It took a while to recover from that shock.
When the metaphorical smoke cleared, I understood that longevity habits and healthy aging is a journey. The benefits are not all at some unspecified time in the future. I feel more energetic, more positive, and clearer minded than ever. My friends joke that while they get older, I never seem to change…
Best of all, I don’t feel I have sacrificed all those indulgences, pleasures and human connections that make life worth living.
Ageing Habits: Baby Steps – Not Wholesale Change
Instead of a ‘solution’ to the problem of ageing, optimising your health span is a series of tiny steps.
The best part is that these baby steps compound over time. They work together, boosting your health beyond the individual parts.
Over the last two years I have added longevity habits incrementally. Stacking them with my existing routine – and snowballing them for bigger benefits. Best of all, these habits are all painless to implement, even if you don’t get it 100% right the first time.
When the benefits start to work together, you’ll need to remind yourself to slow the pace of adding more.
The Why and How of Longevity Habits
This page introduces longevity habits.
It covers both the why and the how of building towards a healthier and longer life. Specific deep-dives borrow heavily from the science – you’ll find links to them below. To keep things separate, I track my own habits journey over here in my blog.
Quick aside: I’m working on a more detailed step-by-step guided version of this longevity habits page. If you’d like to know more, and maybe help me test version one, please do get in touch!
Longevity Habit Categories:
Here are the broad categories, along with how each one will help you:
- Food: Instead of living from glucose spike to glucose spike, you can turn food into an ally in the fight against a frail old age. What you eat, how often you eat and how much you eat are all important.
- Exercise: I’m still surprised how little exercise is needed to get most of the longevity benefits. It is all in the right balance of cardio (HIIT) and resistance training – along with regular movement though the day.
- Fasting: There really is no need to torture yourself with a painful multi-day water fast. The biggest benefits are easy to achieve and can be reached in increments (after switching the types of food you eat).
- Sleep: A powerful weapon that is easy to fine tune, even if you don’t feel you have a problem with it currently. Sleep and circadian rhythms are powerful allies and create the foundation for all the other ageing habits.
- Lifestyle: No need to become a saint that declines every pleasure. Start with tracking, and take sensible steps to incrementally reduce sugar, alcohol, and toxic habits.
- Testing / Screening: Many of the diseases of old age can be treated (or at least slowed) if caught early. You can also screen for deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals. Personalising your longevity habits is only possible with accurate information.
Best of all, getting started on the path towards a healthy ‘unfrail’ old age is something you can do today.
Compounding Longevity Habits: Down Science Rabbit Hole
Simply compounding quick wins in the categories above will boost your health – allowing you to get the best of what nature gave you.
Once you feel the positive effects, you’ll want to learn more.
That is where the Age Well Times will help. I cover the science, separate the ‘theory’ (and those bickering academics) from the practical solutions, and defend you from the snake oil supplement salespeople.
This will get you to a place where you know enough to make informed decisions on drugs, extended fasts, and other interventions.
Willpower vs Habits (It’s Not Even Close!)
Every best-selling book on habits (Good Habits / Bad Habits, Atomic Habits, Tiny Habits, and others) say the same thing about willpower.
It simply does not work for habit formation – at least for long.
If you have ever made a New Year’s resolution to live a healthier life, you’ll already know this. The average life expectancy of a resolution is 26 days.
Obviously, some form of will is needed to kick-start a new behaviour. Turning it into a habit is required for it to last. There are tested tips and tricks for making new habits stick.
For me, giving each habit a designated time cue works.
Add stacking with other habits, starting ‘silly small’ until a behaviour is established, and adding social accountability (the shame of failing in public) and my longevity habits are far more likely to stick.
When I compare my current habit stack with where I was just two years ago, the contrast is shocking.
Better still, the positive feelings and health benefits mean my new goals are more ambitious than ever. That is, my habits snowballed.
Longevity Habit Stacking and How to Ensure Your Habits Stick?
When it comes to healthy aging habits, there is plenty of low-hanging fruit.
The quickest way to make a new habit stick is to pair it with an existing habit.
Here are some that I ‘stacked’ this year:
- Exercise before my morning shower: I do two short activities from my evening HIIT routine, for example 30 push-ups and a 90 second plank, then immediately shower.
- Glass of water making my daily salad: I make a salad for lunch each morning and have paired it with a big glass of water to start the day hydrated.
- Gratitude paired with waking up: Before I get out of bed, I think about things I’m grateful for. This can be things that happened the day before, or more general.
- Evening exercise: This is paired with my afterwork routine. I chat with my amazing wife (if she is available), then do my regular workout each evening, before my final 6pm meal of the day.
- Melatonin management: Blue light blocking glasses are great for ensuring your melatonin levels stay high (and you sleep better). I paired a habit of putting mine on at 9pm – along with a reading session away from the TV or computer screens. I also get out in the sunlight each morning.
Again, I’d rather this guide focused on you – so my habits (and battles!) appear in my Age Well Times blog.
Stacking is just one way to get your habits established. I have expanded on the foundations of making them stick in my upcoming guide. They include:
- Using Time Slots Effectively
- Cutting Barriers
- Social Cues
- Rewards for Success
- Cutting Bad Habits
Longevity Habits for Humans: Let’s Enjoy Life
Only the most dedicated people want to have a long life devoid of pleasures.
Those pleasures include alcohol, sweet foods, snacks, and lazy Sunday afternoons. You won’t always feel like exercising, fasting, or preparing the healthiest possible meal. I strongly believe that healthy ageing habits should account for indulgences and off-days.
This is the opposite of what some fitness gurus will tell you.
Let’s build strong, effective habits – and make sure that they account for real life, real people, and our human weaknesses.
Six Longevity Habit Categories: Each with Three Levels
Everyone builds longevity habits at their own pace.
Moving towards a healthier future is always more important than the speed at which you complete individual tasks.
I split the habits into three levels to make it as easy as possible for people new to longevity to get started in a positive way. At level one you will find tasks which give you the satisfaction of having started. The real benefits require persistence – and moving towards levels two and three.
By the time you hit level three, you will already be in the top 5% of healthy agers.
Combine that with knowledge of the science, tech, and innovations – and you’ll be able to make an informed decision on hitting that elusive 1% level.
I’m sorry to leave you on a cliff hanger.
My detailed habits guide is underway, and I want to make it epic before releasing it here at the Age Well Times.
See you soon!