Live Longer & Stronger: The Science of Aging Powerfully

by JJ Virgin on April 18, 2023

As I approach my 60th birthday, the blue zones have been on my mind. These are the communities throughout the world that have higher-than-average people who live to be 100 or older. They aren’t just living longer; they’re living longer better.1 

Researchers have extensively studied the habits of these folks to determine how they live longer and healthier. Success leaves clues, and a few patterns have emerged. People in blue zones: 

  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables and other plant foods, along with some fish 
  • Make physical activity part of their daily routine 
  • Often live in close-knit communities where they have close relationships with family, friends, and neighbors 
  • Practice meditation and other stress-reducing techniques 
  • Maintain a strong sense of purpose and meaning 

Overall, the blue zones provide a strong blueprint for healthspan, or “the period of life spent in good health, free from the chronic diseases and disabilities of aging.”2 Healthspan is leaps and bounds above longevity or lifespan, which refers to how many years someone has lived. Living longer is great, but you also want to stay vital and enjoy those added years! 

That’s the approach I take as I reach the age of 60, am in the best shape of my life, and “built to last” has become my mantra. (Care to raise a toast with my Birthday Cake Shake?) I don’t want to just age gracefully; I want to age powerfully, enjoying many more years with my husband and family while serving my community and experiencing all the beauty that life offers. 

To do that, I consistently center my health and wellness goals. With that in mind, I’ve found six unique traits that encompass healthspan. Incorporate these strategies and you can join me in striving towards centenarian status, just like folks in the blue zones.  

Make Every Meal Count 

The magic trifecta of healthy fat, protein, and fiber that I include in every plate and loaded smoothie provides so many benefits, including: 

  1. Steady blood-sugar levels to feel energetic and focused for hours.  
  2. Nutrient density to provide your body with the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients it needs to thrive and stay at peak form all day. 
  3. The right macronutrient balance to keep you full and help you naturally reach and maintain your goal weight. 

With macronutrient balance, consider protein. As you age, you naturally lose muscle mass, a condition called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia can increase your risk of falls, fractures, and disabilities while reducing your overall quality of life.3 

Along with resistance training (more on that shortly), optimal protein can help prevent or slow down this muscle loss. Other research shows that higher amounts of protein may lower type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases. Plus, protein can stabilize your blood sugar, so you get all the benefits of being insulin sensitive.4 

Beyond protein power (along with healthy fats and fiber), eating by the plate ensures you’re getting a variety of nutrients to thrive. Research shows that vitamin K, selenium, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium all play a role in healthspan. Unfortunately, studies show that many people are deficient in these nutrients.5 

Even with the best-designed diet, getting optimal nutrients can be a challenge. I’ve combined the essentials and removed the guesswork with my convenient Daily Essentials Multi + Omegas packets. Every packet combines a superior multivitamin-mineral and omega-3s fatty acids.* Pack one in your purse or bag, take it with a meal, and you’ve met your foundational nutrient needs! 

Build Muscle 

As you age, muscle mass naturally declines. Losing muscle mass can take a hit on mobility, increase your risk of falls, and downgrade your overall health. The solution is strength training.  

Muscle is my number one way to age powerfully and prevent the falls, fractures, and other problems that aging can create. After age 30, you begin to lose as much as 3-5% of your muscle mass every decade.6 Lifting heavy ensures that you stay strong and active into your golden years. 

Beyond building and maintaining muscle mass, lifting weights can: 

  1. Support bone density to reduce your risk of osteoporosis and fractures 
  2. Reduce the risk of chronic diseases (including diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease) 
  3. Improve or help you avoid mood disorders, including depression and anxiety 

If you’re ready to kick things up a notch, combine strength training with high-intensity training (HIIT), which studies show can also slow down aging.7 The best part? You can fit in a full fat-burning HIIT workout in less time than it takes to find a parking spot at your gym! 

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff 

You’re likely familiar with the aftermath of a stressful day. You feel exhausted, tense, anxious, and maybe have a headache or migraine. You can’t avoid stress. But when it spills over into your entire week or month, it becomes chronic and contributes to depression, anxiety, and even premature death.  

With chronic stress, you age more rapidly; the telomeres in your cells shorten faster. Think of telomeres as little caps that keep your chromosomes, which hold your genetic information, from deteriorating or fusing with other chromosomes and creating problems. Long, healthy telomeres ensure that you live a long, healthy life.8 

Stress also means you’re more likely to have chronic inflammation, which contributes to most diseases. (Researchers have coined the word “inflammaging” to describe this age-related inflammation.8) This may become a culprit for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases if unmanaged. 

By managing stress effectively, you reduce inflammation, lower your risk of these and other chronic diseases, and improve longevity and overall health.

Take Ten Stress Support is a uniquely formulated product that provides gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a key neurotransmitter for a normal, calm stress response. We’ve also added other calming nutrients including glycine, niacinamide, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6.* 

Get Your Beauty Sleep 

Sleep and longevity are intertwined: those who get great sleep live longer and healthier lives.9 In fact, new research shows that about 8% of deaths from any cause could be attributed to poor sleep patterns! 

Researchers based that number from five measures of sleep quality:  

  1. Ideal sleep duration of seven to eight hours a night 
  2. Difficulty falling asleep no more than two times a week 
  3. Trouble staying asleep no more than two times a week 
  4. Not using any sleep medication 
  5. Feeling well-rested after waking up at least five days a week 

They learned that life expectancy was 4.7 years greater for men and 2.4 years greater for women who met all quality measures, compared with those who had none or only one of the five.10 

When you’re well-rested, your immune system can better fight off harmful pathogens and protect against disease. Your body also manages inflammation like a pro, reducing the risk of chronic disease.  

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sleep and longevity. Lack of sleep can contribute to accidents and injuries, including falls and car accidents. Researchers have even gone so far as to say that subpar sleep can shorten your lifespan.11 

I could go on, but you get the message: healthspan demands seven to nine hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every single night. Preparation is key. Find a sleep ritual that works for you. Mine includes a hot bath, chamomile tea, and a little bit of meditation.  

I’m also a fan of supplementing with melatonin. This hormone, which regulates your sleep-wake cycle, decreases with age. Melatonin is a great brain antioxidant, too, that can help you sleep better and prevent age-related diseases.12 

My go-to supplement every single night is Sleep Candy™ , which combines melatonin with other calming nutrients including L-theanine and inositol for guaranteed great sleep. * 

Cultivate Strong Relationships 

In 1938, Harvard researchers conducted a decades-long study to determine what gives us happiness.  

“The most consistent finding we’ve learned through 85 years of study is: Positive relationships keep us happier, healthier, and help us live longer,” write Marc Schulz and Robert Waldinger.13 

People who have satisfying relationships have fewer health problems, feel happier, and live longer. Those who don’t are more likely to suffer from depression, cognitive decline, and even premature death.14 

As most of us learned during the pandemic, having a strong network of family and friends can provide emotional support during difficult times, reducing stress and promoting better mental health. 

Have you heard the saying that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with? The right social network also encourages healthy habits, including regular exercise and healthy eating. They also give you a sense of purpose and meaning in life. 

Find Your Bliss 

Happiness appears to be a protective factor for morbidity and mortality: accumulating evidence shows greater happiness predicts survival among older people.  

“Happy people live longer,” researchers say in one study. “Compared to very happy people, the risk of death over the follow-up period is 6% higher among those who are pretty happy and 14% higher among those who are not happy.”15 

That level of happiness spills over into other areas of life, including your relationships, economic prosperity, and your health.16 

What matters is how you find pleasure. For me, helping people reach their health goals provides great joy. I balance that service with a loving family and supportive friends. 

Bliss also means finding my inner spark, and meditation works incredibly well to stay centered and focused. One review of two studies among 339 midlife adults found that either mindfulness meditation or loving-kindness meditation showed significant gains in positive emotions during a nine-week follow-up.17 

Aging Powerfully During Any Decade  

“The steps needed to prevent, reverse, and even cure most of the chronic diseases that drive rapid aging and death are already proven, and available to almost everyone—what we eat, how we move, rest, and sleep, how socially connected we are, and more,” says Mark Hyman, MD, in Young Forever. 

Optimizing healthspan is the best way to live your later decades healthily and happily. You reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cognitive decline, and other age-related diseases. 

On a more practical level, you have steady, sustained energy and focus to do things like play with your grandkids or hike in your 60s, 70s, and beyond.  Financially, maintaining good health can reduce your healthcare costs and avoid the need for expensive medical treatments. Plus, life just feels good. 

Ultimately, these six approaches form a solid foundation to living longer—and living longer better. My suggestion is to focus on one area at a time, master it, and then move on to the next. I’m looking forward to living my best decades, and with these strategies, so can you! 

Protein is my #1 way to age powerfully. My favorite way to break my morning fast and stay fueled and focused for hours is with an All-In-One Shake. Every serving provides 20+ grams of high-quality protein, along with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. Whether you choose paleo-inspired or plant-based, my All-In-One Shakes deliver the creamiest, most satisfying, milkshake-y flavor of any protein powder… without the sugar and other problem ingredients.*  

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. Products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. 


  1. Hyman M.D., Mark (2023-02-20T22:58:59.000). Young Forever. Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition. 
  2. Kaeberlein M. How healthy is the healthspan concept? Geroscience. 2018 Aug;40(4):361-364. doi: 10.1007/s11357-018-0036-9. Epub 2018 Aug 6. PMID: 30084059; PMCID: PMC6136295. 
  3. Rodrigues F, Domingos C, Monteiro D, Morouço P. A Review on Aging, Sarcopenia, Falls, and Resistance Training in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jan 13;19(2):874. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19020874. PMID: 35055695; PMCID: PMC8775372. 
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  6. Harvard Health Publishing: Preserve your muscle mass 
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  10. Science Daily®: Getting good sleep could add years to your life 
  11. Åkerstedt T, Ghilotti F, Grotta A, Bellavia A, Lagerros YT, Bellocco R. Sleep duration, mortality and the influence of age. Eur J Epidemiol. 2017 Oct;32(10):881-891. doi: 10.1007/s10654-017-0297-0. Epub 2017 Aug 30. PMID: 28856478; PMCID: PMC5680380. 
  12. Karasek M. Melatonin, human aging, and age-related diseases. Exp Gerontol. 2004 Nov-Dec;39(11-12):1723-9. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2004.04.012. PMID: 15582288. 
  13. CNBC Make It: An 85-year Harvard study found the No. 1 thing that makes us happy in life: It helps us ‘live longer’  
  14. Harvard Health Publishing: Strengthen relationships for longer, healthier life 
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