5 simple ways to slow down aging

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Telomeres NIH Telomeres, in white, are structures at the tips of chromosomes (in blue).

Aging is largely your chromosomes' fault. That's what Nobel-prize winning biologist Elizabeth Blackburn discovered when she started exploring the world of the invisible, threadlike cellular strands that carry our genetic code.

"It's the over-shortening of telomeres that leads us to feel and see signs of aging," Blackburn said in an April 2017 TED talk . "It sends a signal. Time to die."

Here are a few things Blackburn suggests anyone can do to keep their telomeres long. While these tips won't make you live forever, they can help with your "health span" - the number of years a person lives happily, and disease-free.

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Manage your stress.

Manage your stress.

The more chronically stressed we are, the shorter our telomeres become. Blackburn conducted research focused on mothers caring for children with autism and other chronic conditions, and found that moms who were more resilient to stress — perceiving their situation as a challenge, rather than something hopeless or overwhelming — kept their telomeres longer.

“Attitude matters,” Blackburn said.“If you typically see something stressful as a challenge to be tackled, then blood flows to your heart and to your brain, and you experience a brief but energizing spike of cortisol."

Meditate.

Meditate.

In case you haven’t heard enough about how beneficial meditation can be, here’s another way researchers have found that it helps: Family members who meditated for as little as 12 minutes a day for two months while caring for a relative with dementia improved their telomere maintenance.

Invest in your neighborhood community.

Invest in your neighborhood community.

“Emotional neglect, exposure to violence, bullying and racism all impact your telomeres, and the effects are long-term,” Blackburn said.

But tight-knit communities can be good for telomere health.

Get married and maintain lifelong friendships.

Get married and maintain lifelong friendships.

In a 2013 study of 298 adults between the ages of 65-74, participants who were married were found to have longer telomeres.

Long term friendships can also help telomere health, according to Blackburn.

Make money.

Make money.

Money can't buy love, but apparently it might buy some longer chromosomes.

The same study that pointed to the benefits of marriage also reported that high income is associated with longer telomeres. That could be because making money alleviates certain types of stress.

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