9 home design tips to increase your longevity

IIf we were to learn one key lesson about the longevity of centenarians from blue zone regions — that is, the places that are home to the longest-lived people on Earth — it’s that it doesn’t come from diets. fad, or overworked workout routines, or really any practice that’s doomed to fall apart in a matter of months. Rather, these long-lived people “live in environments that subconsciously nudge them towards healthier behaviors, such as moving more and eating plants,” says longevity expert Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones Challenge: A 4-Week Plan for a Better, Longer Life. And those environments start in the spaces of their homes, which include design and organizational elements that facilitate healthy habits.

Essentially, the very layout of your home can play a role in your longevity because of how we passively make day-to-day lifestyle decisions like what to eat and when to move house. “For example, Cornell found that up to 90 percent of the food choices we make every day are unconscious,” Buettner says. “So even if I were to convince you to do good aware decisions about what you eat, and remembering to make those decisions for the next 30 years, would only cover a fraction of the total number of food decisions you would make on a daily basis.

“[Blue Zones residents] live in environments that subconsciously nudge them towards healthier behaviors, such as moving more and eating plants. —Dan Buettner, longevity expert

Instead, to ensure that these often unconscious lifestyle decisions run a course that promotes longevity, you can take steps to design your environment so that a healthy and safe choice is the default. In this realm, design considerations as mundane as where you place your TV, how your room is organized, and the height of your furniture can all factor into a home that improves longevity.

And since the start of the pandemic, it couldn’t be more important to prioritize. “We spend about 90% of our time indoors these days,” says Ryan Frederick, CEO of SmartLiving360, a real estate development company specializing in housing for healthy aging, and author of Right Place, Right Time: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home for the Second Half of Life. In Frederick’s research on home design for mature populations, he found that the incorporation of mood-enhancing (i.e., nature-inspired) biophilic design elements and concern for the Accessibility can also help make any home a longevity-enhancing machine.

Below, the experts share their top tips for designing homes that will naturally increase longevity, based on how the oldest and healthiest seniors outfit their spaces.

Here are 9 home design tips to increase your lifespan, according to longevity experts

1. Place your TV in a room away from your kitchen

We’re not gonna say you can’t never dip into a bowl of popcorn or even eat a full meal while leaning on the couch, but studies have shown that people tend to eat beyond the point of satiety when they’re also watching a show. If you have to walk several steps (or even down stairs) to get to your kitchen from where you usually post for TV hour, you’re not only less likely to mindlessly snack, but also, if you get up to grab a snack, you walk a bit too. “It’s that kind of regular, integrated physical activity that’s easy to maintain,” Buettner says. “And over time, it can have a more consistent effect than a gym membership, which we’ve found most people use less than twice a week.”

2. Keep a shoe rack by the door

According to Buettner, it’s a double for longevity. With a rack near the door, you’ll be more likely to take off your shoes as soon as you get home, a common habit among people in Okinawa, Japan (one of the Blue Zone regions). “We found that 28 percent of shoes have fecal bacteria,” Buettner says, “and you don’t want to drag them around your house because you can get sick from them.” And separately, a support also encourages you to keep comfortable walking or running shoes near the door, making you all the more likely to use them properly and actively. We love this one from Open Spaces that doubles as a decorative entryway piece.

3. Eat with family members or roommates as often as you can

Sharing a meal with others is an easy way to become more intentional about eating, which can, in turn, cause you to eat more slowly, allowing enough time for the signal of satiety to reach the brain. Without forgetting that socializing is one of the main tenants of blue zone regions. “And one of the best ways to bond with family or friends is to sit around the dinner table,” says Buettner. It also creates a natural punctuation between the go-go-go of the workday and the personal time of the evening, which can help you maintain the boundaries between work and private life.

4. Grow a vegetable patch or herb garden

If you have any type of outdoor space, use it to grow edible things, whether in the ground or in containers on a porch or patio. “Gardening is something we see in each of the Blue Zones, with people well into their 90s still tending to plants and vegetables,” Buettner says. This has the triple effect of encouraging you to spend more time in the fresh air, to be active (weeding and watering requires bending and getting up, after all) and to eat more freshly grown food. .

What if you don’t have access to an outdoor space? Set up an indoor herb garden, like this one from The Farmstand. This way, you’ll at least be more likely to consume fresh herbs, among which Buettner recommends growing rosemary and oregano, in particular. “These are often found in the blue areas, and they’re not only high in antioxidants, but act as mild diuretics, which could help lower blood pressure,” he says.

5. Bring elements from the outdoors into your home

To emulate the beauty of nature, Frederick suggests decorating your home with indoor plants, which can naturally reduce stress. (For an easy-start option, opt for a low-maintenance snake plant.) “If you can’t do that, even having photos of natural landscapes or incorporating earthy, green natural colors into your home can help. fostering a positive and creative attitude- nurturing environment,” he says, referring to the biophilic design characteristic of Singapore’s longevity hotspot. This concept also extends to filling your home with natural light during the day. by opening blinds and windows, weather permitting.

6. Design spaces with low furniture and rugs

It’s estimated that a quarter of Americans over 65 fall every year, and it’s a leading cause of hospitalization, Frederick says. But no matter how old you are, incorporating sofas and low chairs throughout your home is a simple way to avoid a fall that could jeopardize your longevity.

In Okinawa, they go even further and sit on the floor, says Buettner: “That means you have a 100-year-old woman who gets up and down off the floor 20 or 30 times a day, which is basically a squat. They end up having better balance, more flexibility, and great lower body strength. You can certainly copy this in your own home by sitting on the floor, although Buettner says low furniture (like this comfy chair and a half) is also suitable for this purpose.

7. Protect bathrooms from slips and trips

Because of their slippery nature, bathrooms are high on the list of places people tend to fall. To avoid this, Frederick suggests laying non-slip mats on the floor (or installing non-slip tiles, if you’re able to renovate), adding grab bars to the walls of the shower, and even placing a small bench in the shower. . And if you’re looking for a new place, consider getting one with a shower instead of a tub, if you can, so you don’t have to climb over the ledge to get in. Frederick adds.

8. Soothe your bedroom

Creating a space as conducive to sleep as possible is an easy way to finally get more sleep, which offers a host of longevity benefits like improved cardiovascular health and improved cognition. . In that vein, Frederick suggests installing blackout curtains on any bedroom window that gets a lot of light and installing a white noise machine that can fill your space with soothing, sleep-inducing sound, while helping to block outside noise. Regularly dusting and vacuuming your bedroom and making your bed can also help create the kind of quiet, sanctuary-like space that will help you consistently register more zzzs.

9. Make your home welcoming to guests

In the same way that eating with family members can strengthen bonds that promote longevity, socializing more with neighbors and friends can foster the kind of relationships that can also extend your lifespan. Although you already have a dining or kitchen table, Frederick suggests creating other little nooks to gather with tables and chairs throughout your space, or perhaps right outside your front door.

“Research certainly suggests that having close friends promotes longevity, but we also know that loose ties, such as those you might have with neighbors or members of your community, can improve your health and well-being in general,” Frederick said. And the more opportunities you have to engage with these people in and around your home, in terms of design, the more likely you are to do so.

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