10 Tips to Live a Longer, Healthier Life
Want more more time checking off items on your bucket list and making memories with loved ones? Learn how to live longer and healthier here!
Living longer and healthier means more time to spend with loved ones, check items off your bucket list, and continue making memories. But how can you help ensure a longer, healthier life? Find out how to live longer here!
How to Live Longer and Healthier
1. Consume Nourishing Foods
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 that may 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. While diet recommendations vary based on a number of factors, nutrition experts encourage consuming more nutrient and fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, along with lean proteins and healthy fat sources.
The Americanized diet can similarly take note from Okinawa, a Japanese island in the East China Sea. Japan has the longest life expectancy and the Okinawa eating pattern is worth crediting, in which 90 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 fish, meat, dairy, and eggs.
Ultimately, the core tips for a healthy lifestyle include eating a balanced diet, practicing the concepts of moderation and mindful eating, drinking adequate water, and optimizing meal timing for sufficient fueling.
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 recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 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 early death, though even short bouts of movement throughout the day may just extend precious years of life!
While being physically active is exceptionally beneficial for overall health, there are additional consequences of overtraining. A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings reported individuals who participated in three times the recommended physical activity guidelines over a 25-year timespan had a higher likelihood of developing coronary subclinical atherosclerosis before reaching middle age. Overtraining can also increase the risk of fatigue-overtraining syndrome, a condition caused by overuse and damage to the muscle cells following rigorous exercise.
To find balance the balance in exercise, the American Heart Association encourages individuals to participate in at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week, breaking down to 30 minutes of physical activity five out of the seven days. Strength training should too be incorporated at least two to three times weekly to preserve and grow muscle mass, which in turn supports a healthy metabolism with advancing age.
Ultimately, though, some movement is better than no movement! Parking far away from the entrances, taking the steps over the elevator, and walking the dog around the neighborhood are simple ways to increase activity throughout the day.
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. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports overall mortality (or death) of smokers is three times higher among people who have never smoked. The primary causes of this excess mortality relates to health conditions linked to smoking, including cancer and diseases that affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
What’s more, smoke not only impacts the smoker… 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 the U.S., there really is no better time to quit! Not only are you benefiting the health of your own body to live longer, but considering the health of others by reducing secondhand smoke.
4. Moderate Alcohol Intake
Whereas moderate alcohol intake has shown to be cardioprotective, 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, lead to weight gain, and increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, liver damage and premature death.
Moderation is key if you do choose to drink, with traditional recommendations suggesting 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 alcohol drink per day, as there is evidence showing people drinking more than seven alcoholic beverages per week can expect to pass sooner.
And standard drinking sizes include 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor (not the entire bottle…).
5. Keep Learning
Higher education is correlated to better health and longer living according to a press release from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
More specifically, the report indicated men and women 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 in reasoning, speed, and memory and continuing the process of learning has shown to improve cognitive function both short and long-term, further staving off Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other age-related conditions. Reading, piecing together puzzles, and playing memory games are just a few ways to keep the brain active and young.
6. Build and Maintain Relationships
Revealed by a 2010 meta-analysis, social support increases survival by about 50 percent! A 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, and that may be part of the reason women tend to live longer than men.
But it’s truly not so surprising, as a 75-year-old Harvard study revealed good relationships is key to happiness and wellbeing. We often turn to friends and family for support, and 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 our friends, and that 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 advocates selfless volunteering might lengthen life, particularly when reasoning to help is based on others rather than themselves.
Research examined data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study revealed volunteers lived longer than people who did not volunteer, especially if they reported unselfish values or desire for social connections as the primary reasons for wanting to volunteer. People who reported volunteering for their own personal satisfaction had the same mortality rate four years later as people who did not volunteer at all.
There are numerous opportunities to volunteer, including a local food pantry, the humane society, or simply being there for a loved one. 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 effect essentially all parts of the body according to the American Psychology Association, including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems.
Developing healthy coping skills is essential to mitigate from such chronic stress and the repercussions on health and longevity, along with positively moving forward after setbacks. Strategize and implement stress-relieving techniques that work best for you, which may include listening to music, taking a walk, practicing meditation and yoga, calling a friend, reading a book, and writing in a journal.
Human longevity is associated with regular sleep patterns, according to research published in the Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience. The NHS further reports sleeping less than six hours a night makes you 12 percent more likely to die prematurely than someone who sleeps up to eight hours. Achieving consistent and adequate sleep is also critical for mental health, including boosting mood and energy levels.
Though the general rule of thumb is aiming for seven to nine hours on a nightly basis. If struggling to catch those Zzz’s, including stick to sleep schedule, create a comfortable sleep environment, turn off electronics and relaxing leading up to bedtime, and dismissing caffeine in the afternoon and evening hours.
10. Visit the Doctor Regularly
Visiting the doctor regularly allows the opportunity to identify where your health stands in regards to weight, disease states, 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, as seeing the same doctor greater patient satisfaction and fewer emergency room visits, in which better adherence to medication over several years may increase the chance of living longer, suggests AARP.
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 to help pinpoint any potential medical risks and how to go about handling them.