How to change your habits to live longer?

Everybody knows that if you want to live a long time, you’ve got to maintain your health. But how exactly do you do that? Never fear: A recent Harvard study has determined five healthy habits that may actually add up to 10 years to your life. None of the habits should come as a surprise — they’re probably all things you learned in school, from your parents, or from PSAs on television. But it turns out those health clichés you’ve heard contain a whole lot of truth.

For a recent study published in the journal Circulation, a team of Harvard researchers examined around three decades of health history data from 44,354 men and 78,865 women. Then, they looked at how five specific habits might impact how long those individuals would live. For those who didn’t adopt any of these habits, they estimated that at age 50, a woman would live roughly 29 more years and a man would live roughly 26 more years. But for those who adopted all five habits, women were expected to live about 43 more years and men were expected to live about 38 more years. That’s 14 and 12 more years, respectively. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Want to live longer yourself? You’d be wise to adopt these five habits:

1. Don’t smoke.
If you haven’t started smoking, good job! Keep it up. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking is the primary cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. It accounts for more than 480,000 deaths every year. The good news is that fewer people are smoking every year because fewer people in the younger generation are starting and more people are quitting. Be smart and don’t start!

2. Don’t drink too much.
Excessive or binge drinking is definitely not good for your health. According to the CDC, it can lead to both obvious health problems like cancer and heart disease, and less-obvious ones like car crashes, violence, and risky behaviors. They recommend keeping your alcohol consumption to two drinks a day for men and one a day for women (and you can’t cheat by saving that all up and going wild on the weekend.) You needn’t cut out alcohol entirely if you don’t want to, however. Research is showing that moderate drinking may actually be healthier than no drinking at all.

3. Maintain your weight.
Specifically, the researchers recommend maintaining a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9. You can calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters, or by using an online calculator. BMI isn’t perfect — it’s an old measure that can go awry if you’re very short, very tall, or very muscular — but researchers still use it as a rough rule of thumb. A healthy BMI is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.

4. Eat a quality diet.
Eating a well-balanced diet full of nutrient-dense foods will help you get the vitamins and minerals you need without negative effects on your BMI. What’s a well-balanced diet? While it may seem like nutrition recommendations change all the time, medical experts have mostly been saying the same thing all along: Eat whole grains, fruits and veggies, low-fat dairy, and lean meats while limiting your fat, sugar, and salt intake. There’s a reason the diet based on this recommendation has been rated the best for eight years running.

5. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Adults who are physically active are healthier and less likely to develop many chronic diseases than adults who aren’t active — regardless of their gender or ethnicity.” They break down this 30-minutes-a-day figure even further, saying that for “substantial health benefits,” adults should engage in moderate-intensity exercise like brisk walking for 150 minutes a week (roughly 20 minutes a day), vigorous-intensity exercise like jogging for 75 minutes a week (25 minutes a day if you do it three times a week), and muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights or using resistance bands two or more times a week. According to researchers from Brigham Young University, that level of physical exercise can slow aging within your cells. Pretty cool, right?

Make the change today! I am still trying to change…

Check out my related post: Why do you lose hair as you age?

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9 thoughts on “How to change your habits to live longer?

  1. Great post! I got a shocker recently. I’ve always been active although I do bounce between being very disciplined with biking, yoga & walking to being a bit lax. Weight has never been an issue for me and I eat uber healthy most of the time. Rarely ever get sick and am blessed to be 54 and feel pretty great. No chronic aches and such. Well….I caught a wave boogy boarding this summer and was right on the top of the crest heading for a nose dive. I pulled up REALLY fast, arching my back sharply. Put it out. No biggie. Went a few days thinking it would go back but I was in serious pain so headed to the chiropractor. She took x-rays and it was comically out. We were both laughing looking at them. Yup. I did a doozy. She popped me back, no problem and the pain is subsiding with yoga, etc. Almost gone. BUT….she pointed out that I’m starting to have bone loss. I was stunned. I’m very small but very strong. Most of my bones were milky white, but there was some gray showing here and there. She said it was just starting but it was very important for me to begin lifting weights or doing resistance training about 3 times a week. I was assured it would correct swiftly if I began now. Apparently yoga, biking and walking (I also lift and carry a good deal at the shop I work in!!!) are wonderful exercise but don’t build bones. So anyway…..ladies… warned! Thank goodness for that silly wave! It’s been fun adding resistance training and weights to my life. Who knew?

    Thanks for all Your cool articles! You’ve never stopped amazing me with the consistency of volume and quality You gift us with! Cheers!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope that the pain is gone. Keep exercising. And at a pace that is good for you of course. And maybe slip in some massages to boot! Thanks for all the kind words. It really keeps me motivated. Give a shout out if there are suggestions to make it better.

      Liked by 1 person

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