Your parents are the main factor that determines your potential longevity, but genes aren’t everything. With the right, sometimes super-simple, lifestyle choices, extending your life expectancy is possible.
It’s not all about staying fit, either. You have to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. While nobody has the magic formula, research has confirmed some habits that have the potential to make you live longer.
Let’s share these fantastic insights – you might even get inspired to change some practices afterward!
Can a Healthy Lifestyle Increase Longevity?
Science is tricky. It first confirms that your longevity depends on your genetics, which you can’t control at all. However, it then goes on to claim that sticking to healthy habits can help you live longer.
One study, in particular, tried to define which lifestyle practices impact life expectancy the most. It took place at Harvard in 2018, with an international group of researchers working to determine whether adopting the following five habits makes a difference:
- Eating a high-plant, low-fat diet.
- Exercising moderately to vigorously several hours a week
- Healthy body weight maintenance
- Not having more than one (women) or two (men) alcoholic drinks a day.
- Not smoking
They found that following these rules can increase life expectancy by up to 14 years in women and 12 in men.
The scientists didn’t stop there, either. They also wanted to know whether these added years were healthy and free of frequent chronic ailments, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
The conclusions were encouraging, guaranteeing disease-free added years of life. Plus, all of the participants were over the age of 30 when they took part in the study, suggesting that it’s never too late to make significant changes.
With science having our backs, we’ll take a more in-depth look at some habits that could make your life longer, healthier, and happier.
Let’s start with the obvious. Maintaining your physical health leads to disease prevention and a reliable immune system. Plus, it helps you tick all the boxes from the study above. The following three factors have the most impact on keeping your body in check.
Everybody knows that exercise is beneficial. However, it can be quite a feat to pick up the habit if you’re already at an older age. Luckily, research is here again to kickstart your motivation.
Federal guidelines for activity could sound intimidating to somebody who’s not in the habit of hitting the gym several times a week, recommending at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity movement a week.
However, Harvard researchers noted that as little as 15 minutes a day still make a difference. Isn’t that good news?
Plus, scientists proved that even if you take up a training regimen late in life, you can still yield the benefits. If you don’t know where to start, here are some basic-level pointers:
- Strength training. You can do this type of exercise with or without added weight, and it’ll strengthen your muscles and increase bone density, reducing the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle and fending off old-age issues such as arthritis.
- Cardiovascular activities. You could run, walk, or jog to make your heart healthy and happy.
- Stretching practices. This mild workout type increases your mobility and flexibility, ensuring that you can stand up straight and touch your toes when you’re 90.
If you’re a complete beginner, joining a gym with professional-led classes is the best way to start working out safely.
Like you can’t get fit by exercising only, you can’t lead a healthy lifestyle without considering your nutrition.
On the other hand, you can opt for meals that help you maintain your weight and leave you feeling energized. It doesn’t even have to be a vegan diet or a superfood-packed lunch every day.
It’s sometimes as simple as including natural, non-processed ingredients to your meals, including:
- Fruits and veggies
- Whole grains
- Skinless poultry
- Lots of healthy-fat packed fish
- Low-fat dairy products like cheese and yogurt
- Vegetable oils
While you can switch up your red meat for chicken and white bread for whole-wheat, getting enough greens in your day can be a challenge.
Getting a blender that’s best for smoothies and drinking your plants can massively facilitate this task. Plus, taking an energizing, fruit, and veggie-packed bottle with you is an excellent time-saver.
While you’ll get most of the essential immunization early in your childhood, you should make sure you’re maintaining a proper shield against illnesses. You’re never too old to get a vaccine, especially in the cases when protection can wear off with time.
However, adults don’t get regularly scheduled appointments for this health care procedure. You’ll likely have to find a private clinic to provide you with this treatment type.
So, make sure you’re visiting trustworthy experts. Check everything from their providers to equipment. Knowing you’re getting the newest CDC-approved solution from a laboratory-grade freezer from American BioTech Supply can make you feel much safer about what you’re receiving.
You can’t maximize longevity without building good habits to support the key drivers of a healthy lifestyle. While the physical aspect is crucial, you should also focus on your mental well-being.
Chronic stress harms your immune system and opens the doors to many health conditions you’d best avoid. Plus, the fast-paced, stimulus-full world we live in today leads many people to suffer from anxiety, which further messes up our bodies and minds.
You could start practicing yoga, massage, or other forms of venting to manage your stress levels. If you’re still struggling, don’t be afraid to see a therapist. It can make your life so much better.
Regular High-Quality Sleep
Most of us stay up too late watching TV, browsing social media, or even doing work.
However, our bodies require around 8 hours of sleep each night. A lack of sleep can make you feel groggy, irritable, and even increase your stress levels.
Remember that consistency is critical, too. You can’t sleep in on weekends and consider it enough. Make time for regular, high-quality slumber sessions, and your mind will thank you.
Psychological well-being lowers your risk of many health concerns, and mindfulness meditation is one of the best ways to achieve it.
It’s a go-to solution for curbing the adverse effects of our chaotic day-to-day lives, reducing cortisol levels, and improving rest quality. Taking 10 minutes out of your day can make a massive difference in the long run.
Maintaining a robust relationship system is another vital factor in living a long, wholesome life. However, it becomes challenging to see your friends, and especially to meet new ones, as you age.
A study showed that when couples touch non-sexually, they experience surges in feel-good hormones and lowered stress levels.
While sex is also an excellent way to maintain well-being, hugging, holding hands, and cuddling enriches your life and potentially even prolongs it.
Finally, there are habits unrelated to our physical and mental health that can increase our longevity. These are the easiest to implement, too. If you’re looking for a place to start, do the following:
- Wear a seatbelt. A survey from 2010 showed that over 12 thousand people survived car crashes because of wearing seat belts. So, whether you’re in the driver or passenger seat, buckle up to increase safety.
- Floss your teeth. Flossing removes bacteria from your gums. If they accumulate, they could activate your body’s inflammatory response, which could damage everything from your blood pressure to brain tissue, especially if you’re older.
- Cook your food. Eating at restaurants, especially fast-food ones, surrenders control over your diet to others. Businesses won’t put in much effort to get the best ingredients and avoid additives, leading to you eating junk without knowing it.
- Ensure food quality. While you’re cooking by yourself, make sure you’re purchasing the right ingredients and storing them safely.
- Get routine check-ups. Seeing the doctor regularly, not only when you feel symptoms, ensures you identify potential issues at their roots. The earlier you discover a problem, the easier it’ll be to treat it.
In reality, the list doesn’t end here. Studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that everything from getting married to eating nuts can lead to increased longevity. However, you can’t name, let alone do, everything at once. Start small, and work your way up to building an overall healthy lifestyle.
The Bottom Line
In the end, it’s safe to say that the secrets to living a long life are quite evident once you think about it. As long as you eat well, move often and enough, maintain your mental well-being, keep your social connections robust, and practice good habits, you’re on your way to reaching your 90th birthday.
Of course, it can be challenging to simultaneously implement all these changes, especially if you’re already of advanced age. It’s never too late to begin, though, and even if you don’t do everything, you’ll still make your life a bit better and potentially a bit longer. It’s worth a shot.