Updated on January 17, 2016
The key to longevity: slow breathing?
They are a special category of lemurs, who live longer. And they do so because they can reduce their breathing from 200 beats a minute to 8 beats per minute (a state called torpor), when they are hibernating. Now, researchers at Duke University are studying this data to unravel the secret to longevity. Breathing slows, and the animals’ internal thermostat shuts down. Instead of maintaining a steady body temperature, they warm up and cool down with the outside air. Everything gets slower. Hence, their internal organs age less. “If your body is not ‘working full time’ metabolically-speaking, you will age more slowly and live longer,” said study co-author Marina Blanco. And in comparison to lemurs who hibernate for 3 months, lemurs who hibernate for 6 months managed to stave off age related disease symptoms until much later in life. And while non-hibernators are able to reproduce for roughly six years after they reach maturity, hibernators continue to have kids for up to 14 years after maturity, the researchers found.
The state of torpor increases longevity by protecting cells against the buildup of oxidative damage that is a normal by-product of breathing and metabolism. A good way for humans to slow breathing is by practising deep breathing and pranayama exercises. This slows the pulse rate down. The second thing that slows pulse rate is regular aerobic exercise. So, go for a brisk walk 4 days a week, do yoga 2 days a week, and do breathing exercises every day. Too difficult? What, did you think staying youthful and living disease free while you age was easy? Ask the lemurs. They SLEEP for 6 months to stay young 🙂