Tianjin Lesson 8; Personal time zones, ways to live a healthy long life

Nimen Hao,

today we will finish our discussion about time. Let’s play Professor Pan’s video and have a discussion.

Professor Pan’s video: personal time zones

Let’s play Laoshi Pan’s video and have a discussion

  • What do you think about the idea that people live in their own time zones? Does this idea apply to your life, the lives of people you know?

Childishness: discussion

Let’s talk about the idea that you are only as old as you feel and can retain some of your childish feeling for the world.

How (in what ways) can or do you/we keep our inner child alive?

Next we will begin the reading on good health in old age, and pause for discussions throughout. (This is a condensed version of the article).

Reading: 25 ways to live well into old age

Illustration of woman meditating
Illustration: Guardian Design

Susan’s mother had dementia and she became her mother’s carer. Her friend Annabel watched her mother care for her grandmother, who lived with dementia for nearly 30 years.

Susan and Annabel decided to do everything she could to increase their own chances of ageing well. They started researching the latest science on how to have a healthier, happier old age. Both of them are in their 50s, and say they have never been in better health.

What did they learn?

Mind and emotions

Cultivate optimism

Studies have found that older people with a positive attitude to ageing have better functional health, faster walking speeds and higher thinking abilities than those with a more negative attitude.

Negativity puts stress on the body, which can impact heart health, sleep quality, weight and thinking billity. You really are as old as you feel.

Cultivate friendships

Loneliness is linked to dementia, heart disease, stroke, depression and a 29% greater risk of dying.

Researchers found having a large social network is linked living longer. The quality of friendships also helps keep us alive.

Helping and caring for others also helps longevity.

Read books

Although reading is sedentary and solitary, frequent reading has been linked to longer, healthier life. A Yale study of 3,600 over-50s found that reading increased longevity by almost two years; readers of books outlived readers of newspapers and magazines. While those who read for more than 3.5 hours a week lived longest, the researchers said “30 minutes a day was still beneficial”.

Also, every expert seems to recommend reading as a means of getting to sleep.

Keep learning

Brains knowledge ability works equally well in both young and old age.

What matters for the brain, in not youth or age, but learning new things.

The brain loves novelty: crafts, games, even cooking from a new recipe, all trigger the creation of neuron.

The more complex and more difficult the new activity is, the greater the rewards. Choose something that also involves social interaction and a bit of movement, such as singing. Best of all, try learning complex new dance moves.

Take a nap

Several studies have found that nappers have better attention and focus, better memory and better non-verbal reasoning. Oddly, nappers also appear to sleep better at night. But the key is to keep the nap short (about 30 minutes).


Meditation reduces stress and promote empathy, and regular practitioners seem not to lose grey matter, or suffer reduced concentration, as they age. Just 15 minutes a day is enough to help. Can’t spare 15 minutes? Take a few moments to focus on your breath or your surroundings to promote a feeling of calm.

Four legs good … having a dog has health benefits.
Four legs good … having a dog has health benefits. Photograph: Getty Images/Maskot

Walk a dog

The routine of walking and caring for dogs help us age better. A study of 3 million Swedes+ aged 40 to 80 found that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to all causes. Pet owners have lower blood pressure, cholesterol and lower levels of stress. Dogs bring bacteria into the home, which in turns boosts gut health.

Walk faster

Walking is good, but faster is better than slower. Brisk walking has been linked to better memory, better health and a longer life. Increase your pace until you are slightly out of breath or sweaty and aim for 30 minutes a day, ideally outdoors to get the additional benefits of vitamin D and light. New research suggests that those walking first thing in the morning make better decisions during the day,.

Exercise in green space

Trees produce substances which help to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and boost immunity. Tiny substances in forest soil have been found to reduce depression and may contribute to immunity from disease .

Why weights? They build muscle.
Why weights? They build muscle. Photograph: dragana991/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Build muscle

Experts believe weight training is as important for ageing as aerobic exercise, eating vegetables and sleeping well. Recent research found that older adults who did twice-weekly strength training lived longer and with less illness than those who did none. We like rowing and weight-training and keep weights near the kettle and the TV and lift them if we have a few minutes to spare.

Build bone density

Bones strength weakens with age, unless we exercise.

Jumping, running or skipping increase bone density.

Lifting weights also strengthens bones.

Dancing improves balance and coordination, resulting in fewer falls and fractures.

Avoid pollution

Research links pollution to lung cancer, heart disease, dementia, hypertension and diabetes. Avoid congested roads, switch to an anti-inflammatory diet, invest in a good quality air purifier and rotate it round your house, and fill your apartment with plants.

It is vital that we protest for cleaner air and reduce our own personal pollution.

Liquid gold … olive oil. Photograph: Brian Hagiwara/Getty Images

Eating and fasting

Fast every day

Fasting is a proven method for increasing longevity. It also reduces Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and weight gain. It is important to find the type of fasting that suits you. Susan and Annabel like the overnight fast of 14-16 hours, which improves gut health. This fast was practiced by our ancestors who ate supper at sundown, rarely snacked, and then ate mid-morning the following day.

Use olive oil

Olive oil is best used with multicoloured vegetables.

Studies show it improves heart health. It reduces heart attacks and strokes, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and helps give better blood glucose (sugar) control.

Olive oil may also slow of the progression of breast cancer, and reduce bone mass loss.

Enjoy coffee

Researchers think coffee may help fend off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Drinking coffee has also been linked to reduced risks for several cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Drink your coffee without sugar or sweet syrups, and don’t make it too milky: the health benefits appears to drop when milk is added.

Only spend money on vitamin D and zinc

Study after study has found that supplements have very little benefit; we invest in good food instead. However, when it comes to vitamin D and zinc, the data is robust: vitamin D can help us age well while zinc has been shown to reduce the severity of coughs and colds. Those of us who aren’t able to get the sunlight necessary for the body to make vitamin D need a supplement.

Support immunity by eating leafy greens, and …

Research indicates that the immune system overreacts as we get older, and speeds up the ageing process. Support your immune system with a diet high in dark leafy greens, cabbage and broccoli), garlic, leeks, onions, and mushrooms (Shiitake mushrooms are best).


Eat more fibre

An Australian study found the healthiest agers (those most free of disease) were the ones with the highest fibre intake – usually from fruit, wholegrain bread and oats. Fibre also helps reduce cholesterol levels, which in turn supports heart health, and lowers some cancer risks.

The Age Well Project: Easy Ways to a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by Annabel Streets and Susan Saunders (Piatkus, £14.99).

Article shared privately for Tianjin Laoren Daxue discussion

End of semester discussions

After we have talked about the health ideas, we will discuss our holiday plans, including travel, and learning and time with family.

Think about the following questions, and we will use them for discussion.

  1. Are you going away.? Where are you going? Have you been there before? What can you tell us about it? How long will you go for. Do you have any photos to show us?
  2. Are you going to visit someone/some people. Tell us about them, and about who they are to you. How do you feel about seeing them? Do you have any photos to show us?
  3. What kind of learning will you do in the summer holidays? What will you study or learn, how will you do it?
  4. what other things do you plan to do in the holidays? Tell us about them.

How shall we learn together next semester?

A few weeks ago you wrote me a letter about how we could make the classes more simple. Let’s discuss how to do what we will do in class next semester. And we can also talk a little about when (Class times).

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