Live Longer and Healthier: 8 Simple tips
While genetic factors play a role in how long a person lives, adopting healthy lifestyle habits can also contribute to a person’s life span. Study after study has shown that choosing healthy habits can lower the risk of developing cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other illnesses and diseases that can impact a person’s quality of life.
In recent years, however, researchers have been focusing their studies not just on healthy habits, but on how these habits can extend a person’s life for at least a decade, if not longer.
Let’s take a look at eight simple tips that have the potential to help you live longer:
While exercise may improve your health, it’s sometimes hard to fit it into your daily schedule. According to a study in 2018 JAMA Network Open, you don’t have to exercise for hours to get the benefits. Harvard University researchers found that you can increase your life span by as much as three years with as little as 15 minutes of activity. And, each minute of activity you add increases the benefits.
2. Eat This, Not That
What we eat has a lot to do with our longevity. We may enjoy familiar comforts such as french fries, onion rings, and hamburgers, but these foods are high in calories and fat. Nutritionists recommend eating a plant-rich diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains like corn, rice, oats, quinoa and wheat. These foods are packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants which protect against free radicals that cause cancer, heart disease, inflammatory disease, and other health conditions.
When it comes to meat, nutritionists warn to stay away from red meat as much as possible since it increases the risk of heart disease. Chicken and fish come highly recommended.
3. Watch Your Weight
Since everyone’s ideal weight will vary, your doctor can help you determine a healthy weight based on your gender, age, and height. Watching your weight is key to longevity since studies have found that being overweight can lead to a host of health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
4. Don’t Smoke
Smoking never makes the top of anyone’s healthy-living list. Cigarette smoking is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths each year, or more than 480,000 deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But, smokers can see immediate benefits as soon as they quit smoking. According to the American Lung Association, your heart rate drops to a normal level 20 minutes after quitting. Even better, your risk of having a heart attack significantly drops 12 to 24 hours after quitting. Your body continues to repair itself over the years from the damage caused by smoking.
5. Sleep Long, Live Longer
Study after study shows that getting enough sleep every night can boost your overall health which can lead to a longer life. But, exactly how much is “enough sleep?” A multiyear study conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine and the American Cancer Society found that people who had six or seven hours of sleep had a lower death rate than people who regularly slept eight or more hours.
6. Cut Back on Alcohol Consumption
Do your liver and heart a favor and reduce your alcohol intake each week. You may follow the “I-drink-in-moderation” mantra, but studies are showing that moderation can reduce your life expectancy. A global study involving 19 countries and 600,000 people found that people who consumed more than 100 grams of alcohol per week (about six or seven standard glasses of bear or wine) increased their risk of premature death. The study was published in The Lancet journal in 2018.
7. Stop and Smell the Roses
Without a doubt, stress is a part of life. But, chronic stress can seriously affect your health and lead to premature death. Health experts emphasize the importance of reducing your stress level by taking time out to relax, take a vacation, and participate in activities that you enjoy on a regular basis.
A study published in The BMJ (British Medical Journal) analyzed data from 68,222 adults over 35 years old. The survey participants were followed for eight years. Researchers found an association between psychological stress and premature death. The risk of early death was even raised at lower levels of stress and anxiety, according to the study.
8. Stay Socially Connected
Numerous studies have concluded that staying socially active can do you a world of good. Maintaining positive relationships to family and friends helps to reduce stress, boosts the immune system, lowers the risk of heart disease, and reduces feelings of loneliness, among other things.
In a 2010 study published in PLOS Medicine, researchers reviewed 148 studies that provided information on individuals’ mortality as a function of social relationships. Researchers discovered that people with stronger social relationships had a 50 percent increased likelihood of survival than those with weaker social relationships. Those who lacked social connections had a 50 percent higher risk of dying prematurely, according to the study.
The good news is you don’t have to take loads of vitamins or drugs marketed to slow the aging process, suffer from hunger and thirst to lose weight, or purchase the latest products promising improved brain function. According to the studies, taking simple steps in the short-term can yield lifelong benefits.