Mental Health

How to Live Longer and Better

Want to learn the secrets to living a longer and healthier life? Research shows that diet, physical activity and taking care of your holistic wellness can all contribute to it. Here is how you can get started.

By Deanne Panday
30 Aug 2021

This is an excerpt from Health Hour with Deanne Panday, celebrity health coach and author. For advice from her on making a morning routine, exercising with knee pain, dietary tips and more, click on the above link for the Q and A session.


For thousands of years, people have been trying to unlock the secret to living a long life, but research in longevity shows that it is not really a secret at all. So let me share today what I have been doing for over thirty years, that keeps me happy, healthy, and feeling full of energy.


To begin with, one must avoid overeating. Especially during the pandemic, people have ended up overeating because they are bored, sitting on their couch and watching Netflix. Did you know that people in Okinawa, Japan, live longer than any other group of people on the earth? The reason is their traditional diet, which is very high in green and yellow vegetables, antioxidant-rich foods, and low in calories. They also eat in smaller plates, which reduces the tendency to overeat.


I do not believe in fad diets as they give very short term results. Try to go plant based. I follow a mostly vegetarian diet. Sometimes my body craves eggs, which I eat if they are organic or free range. Avoid processed foods, and eat things that you can grow and pluck by yourselves. The cuisine I follow is Mediterranean cuisine, which is composed of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish and nuts, and it is one of the healthiest diets in the world, and something I would recommend. Another good diet would be the Ayurvedic diet.


Get good sleep, for which you need to remain active, through working out, going cycling or going for walks. Laughter is very important for your mental health. Sit around friends and family, try to have fun and laugh. Stop fearing life. As children, we were fearless, so why do we fear so much as adults? Fear creates anxiety, which harms your sleep, creates stress and makes you resort to coffee, overeating or smoking. So try to be fearless in whatever you do. Hold no grudges, and let go of your ego, which creates insecurity, jealousy, competition.


Health for me is your gut health. To me, it is not about a size zero or a skinny body, or being fit the unnatural way. For me it starts with a healthy gut. A sign of an unhealthy gut is inflammation. You will start getting colds and coughs, and you will feel low on energy. You might have watery eyes, allergies or fall sick very often. So having a healthy gut is really important for physical wellness.
Why I call it physical wellness, and not fitness, is because wellness is a very broad spectrum. It is not just the food on your plate or your workout. It is everything that you are doing in order to balance all aspects of your life. Your relationships, your home environment, what is joy to you, your spirituality, how much yoga you do, whether you go to a place of worship to pray, whether you help the poor, your education (you can educate yourself at every stage of your life), your social life, your financial status, career choices—all of these things, when in balance, make you live happy and healthy lifelong.


Before you get to exercising, I would recommend finding your peace and calm. I have come to nature only to find peace and to rejuvenate, so that I can go back to a city like Bombay and get back to work and deal with the world as a stronger, happier person.


During the lockdown, what happened was that a lot of people started making excuses about not having a gym, a personal trainer, or access to a yoga studio. So I started formatting signature moves in my home. I started creating workouts with a backpack, with bottles, with books and even pressure cookers. These workouts were for everybody. A very big part of my workouts was HIIT, which is high-intensity interval training, where you exercise in short bursts to get your heart rate up.


For a beginner, it is 30 seconds non-stop and 30 seconds of rest.
For a person at an intermediate or an advanced level, it is 45 seconds non-stop of the workout, and 15 seconds of rest.


During this workout you are getting your heart rate high, your breathing capacity improves, and in a short time you are burning calories. It is a metabolic booster and it burns fat on your belly. The maximum time that you can do a HIIT session is 30 minutes, which you should not exceed.


I will show a rep which includes five exercises for a whole body workout. We will start off with squats, go to push ups, then a plank hold, a lunge, and finally a finisher which is called jumping jacks. We will repeat this sequence of five exercises twice more, to complete 15 minutes, non-stop. Set your timer to 30 or 45 seconds depending on if you are at a beginner or an advanced level. Remember not to stay static during the rest period; you must keep walking and moving to keep your heart rate up.


Dynamic Warmup

  • Start with arm circles, rotating them both clockwise and anticlockwise.
  • Criss-cross your arms by swinging them on top of each other, as also from shoulder to waist.
  • Hold a resistance band or a stick in your hands at shoulder length apart. Move your arms above your head and behind your neck, and then lower them for a shoulder warmup.
  • Holding the resistance band, twist your upper body at the waist towards the left and then towards the right.
  • Raise your knee to your chest and hug it. Repeat with both legs.
  • Inchworm: stand with your back straight. Bend over at your hips and touch your hands to the ground. Walk your hands forward, moving into a plank. Hold for a few seconds before walking your hands back to your feet until you are in another forward bend. Slowly roll up to standing.
  • Hold out one of your hands in front of your body. Kick upwards so your foot reaches your hand. Repeat with alternate legs several times.
  • Standing on one leg, swing your other leg back and forth. Repeat with your other leg.


5-Move Full Body HIIT


  • Stand tall with your feet hip distance apart. Your hips, knees, and toes should all be facing forward.
  • Bend your knees and extend your buttocks backward as if you are going to sit back into a chair. Make sure that you keep your knees behind your toes and your weight in your heels.
  • Rise back up and repeat. Do this for a total of 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds.

Partial Push-Up

  • Begin in a kneeling position on a mat with hands below shoulders and knees behind hips so back is angled and long. Straighten your arms.
  • Bend your elbows and lower yourself until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  • Pause, then push yourself back up.
  • Repeat for 45 seconds, followed by a rest of 15 seconds.
  • Related Story: The Perfect Push-Up Technique for Beginners

Plank Hold

  • Lie face down on your belly with your palms on the floor underneath your shoulders.
  • Take a deep breath and press through your palms to lift yourself up into the top of a push-up position.
  • Draw your navel toward your spine and squeeze your glutes.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.


  • Start by standing up tall.
  • Step forward with one foot until your leg reaches a 90-degree angle. Your rear knee should remain parallel to the ground.
  • Lift your front lunging leg to return to the starting position. Repeat with alternate legs for 45 seconds.

Jumping Jacks

  • Stand upright with your legs together, arms at your sides.
  • Bend your knees slightly, and jump into the air.
  • As you jump, spread your legs shoulder-width apart. Stretch your arms out and reach over head.
  • Jump back to the starting position. Repeat for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds.


Repeat this entire HIIT circuit twice, with 15 second breaks in between. Remember to hydrate yourself when necessary. Do some simple yoga stretches at the end to cool your body down.


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