Jason Wachob

mbg Founder & Co-CEO

By Jason Wachob

mbg Founder & Co-CEO

Jason Wachob is the Founder and Co-CEO of mindbodygreen and the author of Wellth.

Maddy Dychtwald

Image by Maddy Dychtwald x mbg creative

July 07, 2024

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Women take the cake when it comes to longevity, outliving their male counterparts. In fact, 8 in 10 centenarians are women. However, behind this impressive statistic lies a less favorable reality. While women tend to live longer, their healthspan and brainspan often don’t keep pace, impacting their overall well-being.

Enter Maddy Dychtwald, an entrepreneur, longevity thought leader, and author of Ageless Aging. She emphasizes that longevity isn’t just about extending your life, but about living well—even into your 80s, 90s, and beyond.

To come, we’re diving into three often overlooked ways to support healthspan, drawn from her recent episode on the mindbodygreen podcast.

1.

Diversify your workout routine

Dychtwald doesn’t view exercise in a vacuum. While she emphasizes the importance of building and maintaining muscle for longevity, she believes it shouldn’t be your sole focus.

Instead, she recommends incorporating six different types of exercise into your routine:

  1. Resistance Training: This includes classic gym workouts like squats, lunges, bicep curls, pull-ups, and deadlifts.
  2. Cardio: Cardio isn’t limited to running. Options include jump rope, cycling, speed walking, rucking, hiking, and more.
  3. Flexibility: Often overlooked but essential for mobility and activity. Stretch before bed, take a yoga class once a week (or more), practice Pilates, and so on.
  4. Functional Movement & Posture: Focus on movements used in daily life, such as squatting and lifting heavy objects. Improve posture through mind-body exercises like Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates.
  5. Relaxation & Breathing: Practice breathwork with movement or on its own through meditation. Find calming activities like stretching and leisurely walks.
  6. Balance: Work on balance with activities like standing on one leg (tree pose, anyone?), dancing, biking, and more. The more you solidify your balance now, the sturdier you’ll feel 20+ years from now.

Dychtwald next highlights the importance of meditation—or a similar practice that brings peace of mind. She points to science-backed benefits, citing recent research showing that meditation can improve brain function1.

“I love that fact because we used to think that brain health was not in our control at all, that it was all about genetics,” she says. However, recent research has started to change this perspective.

“Although we don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive declines, what we do have is some tools in our tool chest that can either prevent or delay it,” she explains, emphasizing meditation as one of those tools.

Moreover, as noted in that same study, meditation also offers physical health benefits, such as supporting the immune system, lengthening telomeres (a well-established metric for longevity), decreasing inflammation, and more.

3.

Seek out purpose & connection

Another often underrated pillar of lifelong well-being is purpose. Finding purpose in your life can seem broad and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to start a business, travel the world in 30 days, or reinvent your life path.

On the contrary, Dychtwald says, “The single best way of having a sense of purpose in your life is spending more time with family and friends.”

Through her research at Age Wave, Dychtwald has found that one of the most common actions people take to find more purpose in their lives isn’t related to career or lifestyle at all—it’s adopting a pet.

And with a stronger sense of purpose, you might just live longer. According to one 2022 study, having a strong purpose in life lowers the risk of all-cause mortality2, with the effect being even more pronounced among women.

If you want to strengthen your sense of purpose through community building, remember that it’s about quality, not quantity. “You don’t have to have a million friends. You need to have three or four really good people, whether it be family or friends, that you can open up to, that you can spend time with,” Dychtwald says.

As the Blue Zones have shown us, connection is undeniably one of the most important focus points of longevity, making your longer life a life well-lived.

The takeaway

Yes, most people want to live longer—but we shouldn’t just work towards an extended lifespan. We should aim for an equally long healthspan and brainspan. Dychtwald reminds us to engage in various types of exercise, from cardio to strength training and beyond.

She also emphasizes making meditation (or a similar practice) a daily habit and seeking out purpose and connection whenever possible.

For more on women’s longevity, listen to the latest episode on Apple Podcasts or watch on YouTube.