Does Massage Increase Longevity? What the Science Says

In the holistic landscape of wellness, massage holds a place as a therapeutic practice valued for its known, short-term benefits, yet its potential influence on longevity remains intriguing. This article dives into a large body of research, providing insights into how massage may affect general health and longevity. It not only highlights the advantages of massage therapy for longevity but also gives practical tips on easily making it a part of your lifestyle.

Massage — more than just relaxation

Beyond the commonly associated sense of tranquility and relaxation, new insights suggest that massage might offer a range of additional benefits that extend further into the realms of well-being. Research studies show that massage might not only help with relaxation but also offer therapeutic benefits for both physical and mental health.

This leads to a question: is it possible that massage therapy could be used as a tool to improve our health in addition to relaxation and rejuvenation?

Massage and increased longevity

An increasing amount of scientific research points to a link between massage therapy and longer life expectancy. Research findings, such as a 2016 review of published scientific studies conducted by McFeeters et al., show that massage therapy is an effective supplemental treatment that improves older adults' general well-being. The benefits to mental and physical well-being, as well as possible gains in life quality, are consistent with the theory that longer life spans are associated with better health outcomes.

The potential benefits of Swedish massage therapy for individuals with generalized anxiety disorder are further shown by a 2022 study. Given the link between regular massages and improved quality of life, these results point to a more complex view of how massage treatment could be associated with a longer life by addressing both physical and mental well-being.

Behind the body of research

Based on findings, massage treatment may positively affect several physiological factors related to aging, which may explain some of its potential benefits for longer lifespans. The control of stress and cortisol levels is one important factor, given that stress has a negative effect on many body systems. McFeeters’ 2016 study suggests that increased longevity can be linked to managing stress, and massage acts as a practical activity to enhance relaxation.

As numerous studies have shown, massage can also improve the range of motion and flexibility in different joints of the body, which in turn increases the opportunity for physical activity. This improved mobility is crucial as people age, promoting an active lifestyle that can positively influence longevity.

Additionally, multiple clinical trials indicate that massage therapy may have long-lasting benefits on blood pressure, supporting long-term cardiovascular health. This is especially important for aging individuals who aim to maintain a healthy and graceful aging process.

How to incorporate massage therapy into your lifestyle

As research emphasizes the potential longevity benefits of massage therapy, integrating it into your lifestyle is a great way to supplement your wellness routine. Having 60-minute sessions on a regular basis — ideally two or three times a week — proves to be highly beneficial in managing pain and stress and enhancing general well-being. However, for people with a little less time to spare, research suggests that only two sessions lasting 15–20 minutes each can be helpful.

If the cost or time commitment is a deal-breaker for you, consider an at-home option like a massage chair, massage gun, or gentle relaxation massage from a loved one. Considering that the scientific support for these alternative forms of massage therapy is not as extensive, it's important to note their consistent ability to offer a specific type of massage therapy.

Enhance your massage experience with additional therapies

Combining massage therapy with other practices can be great for a healthier and possibly longer life. When you pair mindfulness activities like yoga or meditation with massage, it can further help with reducing stress and improving mental well-being.

To maximize the benefits of massage, consider integrating the following complementary therapies:

  • Aromatherapy massage. Essential oils can be massaged into the skin during a session to boost the therapeutic and soothing effects of massage, adding a sensory layer to the experience.
  • Reiki therapy. A comprehensive energy healing practice that can be combined with massage to balance the body's energy and produce feelings of calm and relaxation.
  • Dietary changes. Investigating nutritional changes, such as adopting stress-relieving foods or supplements, can help massage treatment by addressing stress on both the physical and biochemical levels.
  • Group mindfulness practices. Participating in mindfulness activities in a group, such as guided meditation or mindful breathing exercises, can provide a supportive and community environment, increasing the overall effectiveness of stress-reduction measures.

These additional therapies, when combined with massage, create a more comprehensive approach to well-being, addressing both physical and emotional components for a more significant impact.

Exploring the potential effects of massage on longevity is an intriguing subject. Recognizing the clear benefits of massage provides a solid reason for optimism. Although the direct and widespread impact on longevity is uncertain, ongoing research in related areas fuels our optimism about the potential contribution of massage to a longer and better life. While conclusive evidence is still developing, the existing positive signs underscore the importance of further research into the specific relationship between massage treatment and lifespan.

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