Here are research-backed habits you can adopt every day to improve your chances of living a long, healthy life. What you do every day affects your lifespan, so get into good habits now.
A long and healthy life is an attainable goal. There are things everyone can do to reduce their risk of many age-related diseases, add years to their lifespan, and make the dream of a long, healthy life a reality. The key is to start building these healthy habits now. Longevity experts share eight things you can do every day to make your golden years shine.
1. Be sure to exercise
Why is this important? Regular physical activity has been shown to counteract normal muscle aging and help preserve lean muscle mass, according to research.
How to do it? To get the most benefits from physical activity, adults need at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as brisk walking or brisk dancing) each week, along with a muscle-strengthening activity, such as lifting weights or doing push-ups, at least two days a week. That’s about half an hour a day during the work week, and the activity doesn’t have to come from a single gym session. Even short bursts of physical activity add up, and many experts (and guidelines) argue that it’s best to spread them out.
Find something that you enjoy doing that is sustainable over time. When it’s something you can do relatively easily, it becomes a habit. You might be better off keeping some exercise equipment at home, where the barrier to using it is lower.
2. Stay up to date with your health exams
Why is this important? Routine screenings can reduce the risk of early death because they help prevent illnesses or catch them earlier when they are easier to treat.
How to do it? Simply talk to your doctor to make sure you are up to date with your screenings. Depending on your age, sex and other risk factors, you may need to be screened for colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, high blood glucose, osteoporosis or mental disorders.
3. Reduce red meat and processed meats
Why is this important? Much research has linked vegetable-based diets to longer lifespans. That doesn’t mean you have to give up meat altogether, though. The evidence for meat is mixed. Diets high in red meat are not recommended, but chicken and other meats are often recommended as good sources of protein.
Eating plans such as the Mediterranean diet and the Blue Zones diet, which emphasize seafood and poultry and minimize red and processed meats, have been shown to reduce the risk of a host of diseases. lifespan-shortening conditions, such as heart disease, metabolic disorders and certain types of cancer, according to research published in Nutrients in 2021.
How to proceed? If it’s more sustainable for you to switch to a diet consisting mainly of poultry and fish rather than going entirely vegetarian, that’s a step in a potentially healthier direction. Start by reducing your consumption of beef and processed meats like deli meats, lunch meats and sausages.
Replace them with lean protein sources like fish, chicken, and turkey, as well as vegetarian sources like legumes and quinoa. It can be helpful to experiment with healthy foods to find the ones you like. If you need more help, or if you have emotional issues related to food, it may be helpful to consult a nutritionist.
4. Develop and maintain balance and core strength
Why is this important? Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people aged 65 and over, and the death rate from falls is worsening, especially among people aged 85 and over. Core strength is essential for balance. It’s very common to be slightly out of balance, but most of the time people don’t even detect it because we automatically correct it using our core muscles. If your core is weak, you cannot correct yourself in this way and you are more likely to fall.
How to do ? Do exercises to strengthen your core. For an easy habit that can help, when rising from a chair, use only the strength of your core and legs, not your arms. Using the arms reduces strain on the core muscles. To strengthen your balance, try standing on one foot each time you brush your teeth. And talk to your doctor if you need more help: Working with a physical therapist can be beneficial, as most are trained to help you develop a fall prevention routine.
5. Stand up!
Why is this important? Spending a lot of time sitting increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes, even if you exercise, according to research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2019.
How to do? If you work from home, you may need to go the extra mile to add some movement to your day. You may not have those natural breaks as you enter and exit the building, talk to co-workers in person, or move to a meeting room. So you can walk around the block, take breaks from chores like making your bed, or spend a few minutes doing yoga poses.
A meta-analysis published in March 2022 in The Lancet Public Health found that, in terms of reducing mortality risk, the ideal number of steps per day is between 6,000 and 8,000 for the elderly and between 8,000 and 10,000 for young adults. Even if you’re not one to wear a fitness tracker, it’s important to get into the habit of walking more during the day, if only for a minute every hour.
6. Adopt good sleep hygiene
Why is this important? Good sleep predicts life expectancy. And that doesn’t just mean getting more sleep, but getting the right amount of quality, restorative sleep that’s right for you. One study found that sleeping less than seven hours or more than eight hours per night increased the risk of death by 24% and 17%, respectively. Official recommendations vary, and it’s not just the quantity but also the quality of sleep that matters. For adults aged 18 to 60, try to sleep seven hours or more per night, for people aged 61 to 64 to sleep between seven and nine hours a night, and for people aged 65 or over to sleep seven at eight o’clock.
How to achieve it? Good sleep hygiene includes having a regular sleep schedule, limiting caffeine and alcohol, especially before bedtime, and avoiding using electronic devices before bedtime. If you have good sleep hygiene but still have problems with sleepiness during the day, it would be a good idea to see your doctor to rule out the possibility of sleep apnea.
7. Take time to be grateful
Why is this important? Although the evidence examining the effects of gratitude practices on health is limited, being grateful could help you be more likely to participate in healthy activities such as exercise and also more likely to seek love. help when you have a health problem.
How to do it? Practice gratitude by taking time to “sit down, reflect, and be grateful. Breathe, and think about what is good in the world and what you appreciate. It calms you down. There is a kind of reset that is very useful for mental health. It really changes the way you look at things.
8. Make time for your friends
Why is this important? Having fewer friends is linked to negative health outcomes as well as loneliness, depression, stress and anxiety. According to a study published online in Aging and Society in July 2022, having just two to four close friends can reduce the risk.
How to do ? Get in touch with your friends, whether by text or phone, and plan to spend time together. Make sure they know you care. If you let them know you care about them, they’re much more likely to let you know they care about them too, so setting aside time for those conversations is really important.
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