10 Habits to Help You Live a Longer Healthier Life
By Elliot Caleira
Thanks to medical advances, people are living longer than ever before. And while prolonging our lives is a worthwhile pursuit, continuing to enjoy a desirable quality of life as we age is something we should all strive for.
What’s the best way to live both longer and better, well into your golden years?
Research shows that incorporating a number of lifestyle practices can promote both longevity and well being. To that end, here are 10 habits you should incorporate to help you live a longer healthier life...
Numerous studies show that pushing away from the table when you still have some food on your plate is a healthy habit to adopt. Aside from avoiding the unhealthy conditions that overeating can bring on–such as obesity, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease---eating smaller portions can help you live longer. A 2008 study by St. Louis University researchers confirmed that consuming fewer calories lowers the production of the thyroid hormone T3. That’s a good thing, because T3 can speed up the aging clock by slowing down your metabolism. Under eating isn’t about starving yourself, it’s about eating in moderation.
- Avoid Prolonged Sitting
From hanging out on the couch in front of the TV for hours to planting your posterior in your chair for prolonged periods at work, sitting too long can shave years off of your life.
“Sitting is the most underrated health-threat of modern time,” says author Tom Rath in a recent Forbes article on activity and productivity.
According to Rath, research shows that “sitting more than six hours in a day will greatly increase your risk of early death.” How dangerous is inactivity? Rath says that, “…some research shows inactivity now kills more people than smoking.”
Unfortunately, studies show that the dangerous effects of prolonged sitting can’t be reversed by exercise. In other words, you can’t sit all day at work or in front of the TV for hours and then get out and exercise to negate what all that inactivity does to your body. A better solution for both workers and TV binge watchers is to get up and walk around for short periods to break up the sitting.
- Quit Smoking
Speaking of smoking, quitting this highly unhealthy habit is a must, as it can take up to 10 years off of your life, compared to if you never smoked at all. The key to quitting smoking, according to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is quitting sooner than later. Research indicates that if you quit before age 40 you can decrease your risk of dying of smoke related diseases by up to 90 percent.
- Start Flossing
Someone once said that the only thing harder to do than to quit smoking is to start flossing. And if you’re a non-flosser here are some facts that just might help you adopt this healthy daily habit.
Plaque is a breeding ground for legions of bad bacteria that cause gum disease and have also been linked to other life-shortening diseases, such as heart disease and stroke. Flossing on a regular basis helps get rid of germ-ridden plaque, which could very well add a few years to your life.
- Eat Those Fruits and Veggies
Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients that have been shown to combat the aging process. These powerful fighters of inflammation have a host of health-promoting benefits, such as improving circulation, boosting your immune system, reducing wrinkles and many others. If you find it hard to get in the recommended three servings of fruits and vegetables a day you should consider taking nutritional supplements. High-quality supplements, such as those provided by the Provo, Utah based company Nu Skin, can help give you the antioxidant edge you need to stay young and healthy from the inside out. For more information check out this glassdoor Nu Skin review.
- Get Social
Ample research shows that having a strong network of friends and family members can lead to a longer and better life. But in today’s tech connected world, that doesn’t mean having large social media networks. It’s the real-time face-to face encounters that promote health and happiness. Being isolated leads to loneliness and depression, which studies suggest can be just as dangerous to your health and longevity as high cholesterol or smoking.
- Cherish your Love Life
Focusing on that other thing you do in the bedroom besides sleep can do wonders for your health and well-being and add years to your life. Having sex regularly---two to three times a week---burns calories, boosts your immune system, improves your mood, lowers your blood pressure and helps you do another healthy thing better, namely sleep.
- Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep allows our brains to process information and our bodies to rebuild overnight. But the key to a healthy brain and body is getting enough sleep. Studies show that people who get an average of seven hours of sleep per night tend to live longer and healthier than those who sleep more than eight hours and less than five hours. Staying off of coffee and energy drinks late in the day and putting away blue-light emitting computer and cellphone screens can help you to get the seven hours of sleep that you need.
- Reduce Stress
Researchers have known for years that those who deal with daily stress are doomed to an early demise. Stress causes the release of cortisol and “fight or flight chemicals” such as noradrenalin that can raise blood pressure and potentially lead to a heart attack or stroke. Meditation, doing yoga, and exercising daily are all good ways to reduce daily stress and add years to your life.
- Make Fitness a Priority
When all's said and done, nothing does more to add more healthy, happy, and productive years to your life than getting regular exercise. Even moderate exercise, like taking brisk 20-30 minute walks each day can work wonders to help you to live a longer healthier life.
Elliot Caleira is a freelance writer in the self-mastery and health and wellness spaces. When he's not writing you'll find him cooking or teaching Portuguese classes. Twitter: @elliotcaleira.