We’ve all heard the same tips for living longer, like making time to flex your brain and your muscles, partaking in a diet that exists outside the drive-through lane and nailing down your purpose in life. Now new research is suggesting that you should add an extra dollop of sweetness to your long-term health plans — and no, that doesn’t mean donuts.


In a study published in the journal Evolution & Human Behavior, researchers made the unexpected discovery that helping others can have some major benefits when it comes to life expectancy. They looked at long-term survey results from over 500 people between the ages of 70-103 who lived in Berlin. The researchers focused particularly on grandparents, analyzing the health outcomes of those who did and did not help out with their kids and grandkids.


While we might think of our parents as lifesavers when it comes to chipping in with the babysitting, it turns out that babysitting might just be saving them, or at least helping older adults achieve longer life spans. The helpful grandparents surveyed had a 37 percent lower mortality hazard rate, even after researchers took age, socioeconomic status and characteristics of children and grandchildren into account. Childless adults shouldn’t worry — helping others in your social network provides the same health benefits as a regular babysitting gig.


This research is the first to show that superstar grandparenting could help older adults live longer. Even though you’ve probably got a ways to go before you’re a grandparent, there’s no harm in adding some extra kindness and helpful vibes to your daily life. Whether or not it adds some extra years, it’ll definitely make your time all the more enjoyable.

What are you doing to live longer? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!

(Photos via Getty)