Longevity: a long duration of individual life.
We all want longevity and the chance to live longer and healthier. Doing so grants us more time to spend with loved ones, check items off a bucket list, and continue making memories.
But how can you help ensure a longer, healthier life? Find out how to live longer and feel better here!
10 Tips to Live Longer and Healthier
From making diet changes to visiting the doctor more often, discover evidence-based tips to live longer and healthier!
1. Consume a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Constantly fueling the body with innutritious foods runs the risk of chronic health conditions and a lower life expectancy. And unfortunately, the Americanized diet is over consumed with refined oils, red meats, and added sugars, which may shorten telomere length.
Telomeres are the protective endings of chromosomes that defend against cellular damage. Such damage can harm the human body and increase the risk of chronic diseases and cut off years of life.
Fortunately, though, even making simple changes can increase longevity and quality of life.
5 Simple Tips to Eat Healthy
While there is not a single food to eat to live longer, overall tips may lengthen life span and lead to a healthy life. Nutrition experts recommend the following for healthier eating and longer living:
1. Focus on nutrient-dense foods. Putting the focus on nutrient-dense foods naturally displaces room for innutritious foods in the diet. Include more whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fat sources.
2. Reduce overly processed foods. Overly processed foods tend to be laden in added sugar, salt, and refined oil. They also often lack any nutritional value and a source of empty calories.
3. Pay attention to portion sizes. Portion sizes have substantially grown overtime, making it that much easier to overeat. Portion control tips include using measuring spoons, using smaller plates, and loading up on veggies.
4. Practice meal prep. Meal prep is helpful for staying on track of a healthy diet. Take some time on a certain day to strategize meals, grocery shop, and prepare them for the week.
5. Drink more water. Staying hydrated is essential for overall health. Drink more water by using larger cups and making water convenient.
Diets to Consider
The Americanized diet can similarly take note from Okinawa, a Japanese island in the East China Sea. Besides, Japan has the longest life expectancy and the Okinawa eating pattern is worth crediting.
Ninety percent of the traditional Okinawan diet comes from whole plant foods, including colorful veggies and beans. The diet is also complemented with small proportions of meat, dairy, eggs, and fish.
There is likewise a link between the Meditarranean diet and longevity. The diet calls not for deprivation, but for one to focus on nutrient-dense foods such as:
• Fresh vegetables and fruits
• Nuts and seeds
• Beans and other legumes
• Whole grains
• Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids
• Heart-healthy oils such as olive oil
Smaller, moderated portions of the following are also recommended:
• Low-fat cheese and yogurt
• Meat, with red meat eaten with rare frequency
• Red wine
The Mediterranean Diet is not just an eating pattern, though. It is a way of living that encourages good times to be had with good company and in good health.
2. Be Physically Active
Living a sedentary lifestyle has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other chronic diseases.
According to a study, how to live a longer life comes down to dismissing a sedentary lifestyle and taking a stand. The research shows couch potatoes increase their risk of dying earlier in life. However, even short bouts of movement throughout the day may just extend precious years of life!
While physical activity leads to numerous health benefits, there are additional consequences of overtraining. In fact, a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings reported people who participated in three times the recommended physical activity guidelines over a 25-year timespan had a higher likelihood of developing hardening of the arteries before middle age.
Overtraining can also increase the risk of fatigue-overtraining syndrome. The syndrome is a condition caused by overuse and damage to the muscle cells following vigorous exercise.
To find the balance in fitness, consider these expert recommendations related to various forms of exercise.
Also known as cardio, aerobic exercise namely supports a strong cardiovascular system. Cardio also assists in weight management and can help manage and improve certain health conditions.
The American Heart Association encourages individuals to participate in at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. This breaks down to 30 minutes of physical activity five out of the seven days.
Cardio includes running, brisk walking, swimming, dancing, cycling, and any activity that elevates heart rate.
Strength training protects muscle and bone strength, in turn encouraging quality of life and independence as the body ages.
Include weight and strength training at least twice a week and focus on the major muscle groups. Consider working with a personal trainer to ensure proper lifting techniques if new to strength training.
Increase Overall Movement
Ultimately, dismiss a sedentary lifestyle and try to be more active throughout the day. Some movement is better than no movement and short bouts can make a significant difference.
Tips to increase overall daily activity include:
• Parking far away from the entrances
• Taking the steps over the elevator
• Walking the dog around the neighborhood
• Biking to work if possible
3. Smoke Cessation
Cigarettes are quite the threat and undeniably harmful to health. They increase the risk of lung disease and cancer, along with shaving off precious years of life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports overall death of smokers is three times higher among people who never have. The primary causes of this excess mortality relates to health conditions linked to smoking. These include cancer and diseases that affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
What’s more, smoke not only impacts the smoke. Secondhand smoke causes:
• 7,333 annual deaths from lung cancer
• 33,951 annual deaths from heart disease
• An estimated 41,000 deaths each year!
So with tobacco identified as the leading preventable cause of death in America, there really is no better time to quit! Not only are you benefiting the health of your own body, but considering the health of others by reducing secondhand smoke.
4. Moderate Alcohol Intake
Moderate alcohol intake has shown to be cardioprotective, including in the Meditarranean diet. However, partaking in too many happy hours can have some not-so-happy consequences on your health. Drinking too much can raise blood pressure and triglyceride levels. It can also increase the risk for heart disease disease, stroke, liver damage and premature death.
If you are to drink, consider using these guidelines for alcohol moderation:
1. Stick to Serving Sizes
Moderation is key if you do choose to drink. Traditional recommendations suggest men should moderate alcohol consumption to two servings while women are limited to one.
But reported by CBS News, adults should have no more than one alcohol drink per day. Some evidence shows people drinking more than seven alcoholic beverages per week can expect to pass sooner.
2. Watch Out for Portions
Standard drinking sizes include 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
(Not the entire bottle…)
3. Be Mindful of Mixers
Alcohol supplies calories as is. Mix it with sugary mixers and syrups, a single drink can pour out hundreds of calories.
Reduce total calories by limiting soft drinks, juices, and other concentrated syrups and sweeteners. Add fizz and flavor with seltzer water and fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice.
5. Keep the Brain Active
Higher education is correlated to better health and longer living according to apress release from the CDC. The report indicated those holding a bachelor’s degree live about nine years longer than those without a high school diploma. Researchers speculate those who continue seeking higher education are more likely to plan for the future and make healthier lifestyle choices.
Stimulating the brain and continuing the process of learning has shown to improve short and long-term cognitive function. These benefits may in turn stave off Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other age-related conditions.
Some ways to keep the the brain active and young include:
• Reading books, magazines, etc.
• Piecing together puzzles
• Playing memory games
• Learning a new language
• Writing more often
• Practicing math equations
• Teaching a new instruction or task
6. Build and Maintain Relationships
Revealed by a 2010 meta-analysis, social support increases survival by about 50 percent! A more recent 2018 meta-analysis concluded loneliness shows a harmful effect for all-cause mortality, with a slightly stronger effect in men than in women. Women tend to have stronger social networks, which may be a reason women tend to live longer than men.
A 75-year-old Harvard study revealed good relationships are key to happiness and wellbeing. We often turn to friends and family for support. Taking care of the people that matter to us may help us take better care of ourselves, some evidence shows.
Some research even suggests that immune function is improved when we are around friends and they help with stress regulation. So sustain close relationships with family, friends, and other loved ones!
7. Get Involved in Community and Give Back to Others
Becoming more active in the community through volunteer work and other organizations can boost mental health and overall quality of life. The American Psychology Association (APA) advocates selfless volunteering might extend life, particularly when help is based on others rather than oneself.
Research examined data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study revealed volunteers lived longer than people who did not volunteer. This especially serves true if they reported unselfish values or desire for social connections as the primary reasons to volunteer. People who reported volunteering for personal satisfaction had the same mortality rate four years later as people who did not volunteer at all.
There are numerous opportunities to volunteer such as:
• Sorting food at local food pantries
• Walking dogs at the humane society
• Ringing the bell for the Salvation Army
• Collecting clothes to donate
• Hosting a bake sale or carwash for a charity
Truly, contributing selfless time likewise deepens the meaning of life and sparks great feelings of joy.
8. Develop Healthy Coping Skills
Whereas some stress can be motivating, too much of it can cause serious consequences. In fact, stress can affect essentially all parts of the body. These include the following systems:
Developing healthy coping skills is essential to mitigate from such chronic stress and the repercussions on health and longevity. Such skills also allow one to positively move forward after setbacks. Common positive coping techniques may include:
• Listening to music
• Taking a walk
• Practicing meditation and yoga
• Calling a friend
• Reading a book
• Writing in a journal
At the end of the day, strategize and implement stress-relieving techniques that work best for you.
9. Ensure Adequate Sleep
Human longevity is associated with regular sleep patterns, according to research published in the Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience. The NHS reports sleeping less than six hours a night makes one 12 percent more likely to die prematurely than someone who sleeps up to eight.
Achieving consistent and adequate sleep is also critical for mental health, including boosting mood and energy levels. It can also slow down cognitive decline progression.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve sleep quality and quantity. These include sticking to bedtime routine and creating a comfy sleep environment. Relieving night time hunger and stress can be helpful, too.
1. Stick to a Bedtime Routine
A "bedtime" is not only for children. It is an influential nightly hour that may have powerful effects on the body. Forming a schedule can keep sleep and wake cycles regulated and promote an awakened and lively mind come morning hours.
When making a sleep and wake schedule, consider the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If planning to be up by 5:30 a.m., aim to be in bed no later than 10:30 p.m. If it takes a bit to fall asleep, alott for that time.
2. Create a Comfy Sleep Environment
Evaluate the bedroom to ensure appropriate and ideal room temperatures, sounds, and lights. Also sleep on a comfortable mattress with a cozy, but sturdy pillow.
3. Turn Off Electronics
Electronic devices can disrupt sleep regulation and hither the ability to feel sleepiness. Turn off the television and electronic devices well before an established bedtime.
4. Limit Caffeine
Limit caffeine in the afternoon and evening hours, as drinking after mid-morning can disrupt sleep cycles come bedtime. Caffeinated products include coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks, tea, and chocolate.
5. Relieve Night Time Hunger
Snacking is generally discouraged following the evening meal. However, a healthy midnight snack snacks can promote a restful night's sleep and beat pesky cravings.
6. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Rather than stressing over not being able to fall asleep, prime sleep cycles by practicing relaxation techniques. Relaxation exercises for falling asleep can quiet the mind and calm the body.
7. Consult with a Doctor
Consult with a primary care provider if having trouble sleeping. A number of health conditions that may impede on sleep quantity and quality, including obesity, sleep apnea, and arthritis. Certain medications may also have a negative impact on sleep cycles.
10. Visit the Doctor Regularly
Visiting the doctor regularly allows the chance to identify where health stands in regards to weight, disease, and other ailments and conditions. Keeping in the know also grants the prospect to prevent or discourage further health concerns later down the road.
But the continuity of care is likewise as important, suggests AARP. Seeing the same doctor shows greater patient satisfaction and fewer emergency room visits. This can lead to better adherence to medication over several years and may increase the chance of living longer.
Make it a point to not only schedule doctor appointments with one provider or network, but attend them. During the visit, discuss family histories, health concerns, and lifestyle habits. Doing so helps pinpoint any potential medical risks and how to go about handling them.
Stay on top of shot records as well. While vaccination recommendations vary, common shots to consider include:
• Annual influenza shot
• Tetanus boosters each decade
• Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine if under age 21
• Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR)
In addition to consulting about a personal vaccination schedule, find out about regular and recommended health screenings. These often include a screening for:
• High blood cholesterol
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
• Cancer, including skin, breast, and prostate cancers
• Mental health conditions such as depression
• Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
All-in-all, aim to put your best foot forward in all facets of life. Doing so can at least keep you healthier and happier, leading to a more fulfilled life with loved ones!
Selfless volunteering might lengthen your life, research suggests. Monitor on Psychology. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/11/volunteering. Published November 2011.
Stress effects on the body. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body.
Vasto S, Barera A, Rizzo C, Carlo M, Caruso C, Panotopoulos G. Mediterranean Diet And Longevity: An Example Of Nutraceuticals? Current Vascular Pharmacology. 2013;12(5):735-738. doi:10.2174/1570161111666131219111818