What if we told you that the secret to living longer wasn’t as elusive as you’d think? The truth is that small, consistent changes to your wellness routine can go a long way toward a longer and healthier life.
We asked the experts and scoured the studies to bring you 10 science-backed hacks to enhance your longevity (how long you live) and healthspan (how long you live well). Incorporate these easy and accessible tips today and start playing the long game.
10 Longevity Hacks to Live Longer and Stronger
1. Get Some Sun Within An Hour of Waking
According to Dr. Andrew Huberman, a Professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford University School of Medicine, “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of quality peer reviewed papers showing that light viewing early in the day is the most powerful stimulus for wakefulness throughout the day. And it has a powerful, positive impact on your ability to fall and stay asleep at night.”
Why it works: Soaking up morning sunlight within an hour of waking up helps reset your circadian clock, the body’s mechanism for anticipating when to wake up and go to sleep, explains Lifeforce Physician Assistant Mary Stratos, PA-C, IFMCP. And studies show that regulating your circadian rhythm can go a long way when it comes to supporting healthy aging and longevity.
“Our circadian rhythm dictates so many different bodily processes, including our ability to regulate our immune system, stress hormone activity, emotional balance, and hunger,” Stratos says. Research shows that morning light exposure helps balance the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, which optimizes weight management.
Early sunlight exposure can also support the production of new, healthy mitochondria, says Stratos. “This is crucial because mitochondrial dysfunction is a primary cause of many chronic conditions and aging.”
Try it at home: First thing in the morning — before you check your email or start scrolling social media — head outside for a quick walk or have your morning coffee or tea on the porch. Getting just five to 10 minutes of sunlight in your eyes (sans sunglasses) can help reset your circadian clock, even on cloudy days.
2. Sip Vinegar Before Meals
To paraphrase Mary Poppins, a spoonful of vinegar helps the blood sugar go down. "Excess blood glucose will get stored in the body as fat, and fat itself can increase inflammation in the body,” explains Lifeforce Physician Dr. Julia Afridi, DO. “In addition, excess blood glucose creates molecules called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). AGEs are a significant aspect of aging and lead to inflammation and oxidative stress, which hamper longevity."
One easy way to do this is to have a tablespoon of vinegar diluted in water before each meal — especially with starchy dishes, suggests French biochemist Jessie Inchauspé (aka the Glucose Goddess) in her book The Glucose Goddess Method.
Why it works: Inchauspé explains that the acetic acid in vinegar temporarily inactivates a digestive enzyme that breaks down starch, so glucose is released into our bodies more slowly. The acid also helps our muscles soak up glucose when it hits our system. The result: fewer glucose spikes.
In one study, acetic acid was shown to decrease the amount of blood glucose and insulin released after a meal by up to 20%. This is key because higher blood glucose and insulin levels can lead to inflammation and weight gain.
Plus, there’s even more perks. “Apple cider vinegar also aids in the digestive process, which can support nutrient absorption and a healthy microbiome,” Stratos says.
Try it at home: The Glucose Goddess suggests diluting one tablespoon of vinegar in a tall glass of water, and drinking it within 20 minutes of eating. Sip with a straw to protect your teeth’s enamel. You can also mix vinegar into sparkling water, tea, or salad dressing. Apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, rice vinegar, and coconut vinegar all do the trick — just avoid salad dressings with added sugars.
3. Eat Your Veggies First
“Balancing our blood sugar is a critical part of maintaining cellular health, and the order in which we consume different macronutrients is a great, simple trick to help optimize this,” Stratos says. “I recommend people to try to eat any protein, fat, and fiber on their plate before consuming the majority of their carbs.”
Why it works: Studies show that switching up your food order and eating carbs last can decrease your blood sugar spike and insulin load by almost 50%.
In her book, Inchauspé suggests starting with veggies because their fiber will form a protective mesh in the walls of the upper intestine. This barrier protects against too much glucose coming down during a meal, which reduces blood sugar spikes.
Try it at home: You don’t necessarily need to change what you eat — just when you eat it. Start each meal with any type of cooked or raw veggie. Make sure it’s whole — blending veggies in soups or juices will pulverize the fiber particles. Enjoy a side salad or veggie appetizer instead of bread or a more starchy starter. If you’re still craving the bread, have it after the veggies.
4. Take a Cold Shower
“Cold exposure is so powerful,” Stratos says. “It regulates different longevity markers and molecules such as adiponectin, which reduces inflammation and enhances insulin sensitivity — all essential for longevity.”
Why it works: Research backs up that cold therapy may increase longevity, decrease inflammation, lower blood pressure, and improve metabolism. A study in PLoS One showed that people who regularly took cold showers saw a 29% reduction in sickness-related absences from work.
After cold exposure, people also experienced a 250% boost in dopamine levels. (Other cold therapy modalities, such as cold plunge and cryotherapy, also activate a dopamine response.) “This helps you stay present, productive, and emotionally balanced during your day,” Stratos says. “It’s a win-win!”
Try it at home: To get the benefits of cold showers, turn the temperature low (below 60 degrees) and start slow. The water needs to be cold enough to induce a shiver response. Begin with just 30 seconds of cold water. Work your way up to a minute, and eventually progress to two to three minutes.
5. Call a Friend
Live longer with a little help from your friends. An Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging found that people with the most friends outlived those with the fewest by up to 22 percent. Another clinical review of nearly 150 studies showed that people with strong social connections had a 50 percent better chance of survival — regardless of age, sex, and health status — than those with weaker ties. In fact, the researchers found that the risk of feeling isolated was similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Why it works: “The body’s ability to repair and regenerate its tissues is dependent on our body being in a calm, hemostatic state versus an activated, catabolic state,” Stratos explains. “The data is undeniable that regulating and reducing stress hormones through positive social interactions promotes many healthy pathways and reduces all cause mortality.”
Try it at home: Prioritize your relationships like your life depends on it — literally. Set up a regular meetup, phone call, or Facetime with your friends and family. You can also call a pal while on a daily walk. That way, you’ll cross off the next tip at the same time.
6. Move Right After a Meal
Moving your body after you eat is another simple way to regulate blood sugar, which as we know, is key for reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
Why it works: “Walking for just two minutes within an hour of meals can significantly reduce a prolonged blood sugar spike,” Stratos says.
A study in the journal Diabetes Care found that when older adults at risk for type-2 diabetes walked on a treadmill for 15 minutes after dining, they had smaller blood sugar spikes in the hours afterwards. In fact, those quick post-dinner strolls were even more effective at lowering blood sugar than a single 45-minute walk taken mid-morning or late in the afternoon.
Try it at home: Right after dinner, take an easy stroll around your neighborhood. You can also get in some simple movements like squats or calf raises, clean your house, run around with your kids, or have a dance party in your living room — any movement counts.
7. Eat Fermented Foods
In the fermentation process, natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in food. This preserves the food while promoting beneficial gut bacteria like probiotics, plus B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.
“There is a reason that most traditional diets included fermented foods, as they are key to reducing inflammation and supporting immune system function and overall health,” says Dr. Afridi.
Why it works: Research shows that people who consumed two to four servings of low-sugar fermented foods per day enhanced their gut microbiota diversity. This diversity significantly increased anti-inflammatory markers and decreased proinflammatory markers like C-reactive protein, which has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and cognitive decline.
“We have more bacterial cells in our microbiome than we have human cells in our entire body, so we need to take care of them!” Stratos says.
Try it at home: Give your diet a gut check. Try incorporating probiotic-rich fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh. You can also sip on kombucha. Just make sure the foods and drinks you choose — especially kombucha and yogurt — aren’t loaded with added sugar.
8. Bring Your Attention to Your Breath
Breathing sounds as easy as, well, breathing. But intentional breath is actually a powerful tool to protect your health. “We are breathing every minute of every hour of every day, and yet are mostly not aware of the breath happening,” Dr. Afridi says. “One of the first ways to shift breathing patterns and optimize breath for longevity is to bring attention to it.”
Why it works: “Breathing is a fundamental and wonderful way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is where rest, repair, digestion, and all bodily functions can properly occur,” Stratos says.
Research shows that deep breathing techniques can significantly reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which contributes to aging faster. Intentional breathing can also help lower inflammation and improve immune response, reduce anxiety and depression, and enhance cognition.
Try it at home: Breathe easy with a technique called box breathing. Here’s how it works: Sit with your feet on the floor and close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, bringing your consciousness to the air entering your lungs. Hold your breath for a count of four. Slowly exhale for a count of four. Repeat the process for several rounds.
“Just four rounds of box breathing has the ability to shift our physiology to a healthier state,” Stratos says.
9. Sneak in Snack-Sized Workouts
Research shows that sitting for long periods of time can increase your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and mortality — even if you exercise regularly. Take a stand against these outcomes with snack-sized micro workouts, short bursts of movement throughout the day.
Why it works: New research from Columbia University finds that just five minutes of walking every half-hour can help offset the harmful effects of sitting, plus lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, improve mood, and lessen fatigue.
“What’s great about this research is that it scientifically supports the idea that you don’t need to complete grueling workouts regularly to gain health benefits from physical activity,” says Lifeforce Physician Renae Thomas, MD. She notes that getting a micro workout in about every half-hour adds up to 65-70 minutes of movement daily, “all without carving out time to exercise after work or getting up an hour earlier. That’s huge!”
Try it at home: Commit to anything that gets you out of your chair — walking on a conference call, gardening, window shopping, cleaning, dancing, chasing your kids, or biking to work. “Choose activities you enjoy so you’re more likely to stick to them,” says Dr. Thomas. To get used to the habit, she suggests setting an alarm on your phone for every 30 to 60 minutes.
10. Up Your Magnesium Intake
We can’t stress enough how important magnesium is for stress relief and whole body health. “Magnesium is needed for more than 400 enzymatic processes in the body, including mitochondrial support, liver detoxification, regulating blood pressure, and optimizing sleep,” Stratos says.
Why it works: Magnesium deficiency has been linked to inflammation and higher C-reactive protein levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety, insomnia, and more health risks. Studies show that magnesium can improve cellular health and enhance longevity. Researchers believe that magnesium may play an important role in regulating the length and integrity of telomeres which are structures at the end of each chromosome that protect DNA quality from deteriorating with age.
Try it at home: Limit excess sugar, salt, alcohol, soda, and coffee, as these all deplete your magnesium stores. Load up on magnesium-rich foods like nuts, brown rice, avocado, beans, spinach, collard greens, and kelp.
Even with incorporating these foods, you may still be missing out on magnesium. One solution: Lifeforce Magnesium, which includes two clinically-tested magnesium compounds
— magnesium bisglycinate and dimagnesium malate — that are better absorbed by your muscles and brain than other forms of magnesium. Plus, it boasts magnolia extract to support a calm, healthy stress response. Learn more about Lifeforce Magnesium here.
Looking for more support to live longer and stronger? In the Lifeforce Membership, you’ll have access to biomarker testing every three months, plus ongoing personalized advice from a Lifeforce physician and health coach. Learn more here.
This article was medically reviewed by:
Julia Afridi, DO, ABIHM Board Certified in Family Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine
Mary Stratos, PA-C, Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner