Life is a wild ride. Why not enjoy it as much as possible? With the right habits, you can savor the most out of your golden years – and feel good while doing so. It’s never too early or late to start. Sure, the sooner you take on these habits, the better impact they’ll have. But even if you’re already in the “golden years,” treating the body well has no due date. Here are 11 habits that will increase longevity, according to science.
11 Habits That Increase Your Lifespan
1. Eat Plant-Based Protein
Enjoy animal protein in moderation. Consuming more plant-based sources is linked to a 30 percent lower risk of heart disease, the number one cause of death in the nation.1 2 Tasty options include nuts, soy, quinoa, and whole grains.
2. Avoid Soda
It’s no secret that sugar-sweetened drinks aren’t the best choice. According to Diabetes Care, it can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.3 Together, these conditions are a perfect set-up for short life.
3. Drink Water
Reach for H2O instead of any other drinks. By staying hydrated, the body’s fluid levels will stay balanced as every single cell needs fluid to function. Plus, drinking plain water is linked to lower energy intake and weight control.4 This is a must for preventing obesity and chronic disease.
4. Find Ways To Relieve Stress
While a little bit of stress in life is normal, letting it build up will shave years off your life. Chronic stress actually reduces the levels of klotho, a hormone that controls the aging process. It also plays a role in brain function and body health.5
Make stress relief a priority. Do it through yoga, meditation, or activities that you love. If life feels too busy, carve out special “me” time. Your lifespan depends on it.
5. Get Enough Sleep
In a culture of all work and no play, it’s common to get little to no rest. This is a major predictor of death, unfortunately. Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night.6 This is because, during sleep, the body repairs itself, keeping it healthy. But remember, getting too much sleep is not any better. It can also bring on early death!7
6. Move Around
We all know that exercise is good for the body, but you don’t need to run a marathon. Each day, replacing just 30 minutes of sedentary time with light activity can decrease mortality risk.8 Even a brisk walk around the neighborhood will do.
Not a fan of walking? Play with your kids, dance around, or invite a friend and party right at home. There are so many ways to put the fun back into exercise.
7. Help Others
The more you give, the more you’ll live. That’s what a 2003 study says, at least! Compared to receiving social support, giving it has a desirable effect on longevity.9 Consider volunteering at a soup kitchen, animal shelter, or community center. It will greatly contribute to your sense of purpose.
8. Keep Healthy Friendships
Relationships are one of the biggest predictors of mortality. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to change.10 Take the time to connect with the people around you. If you’re an introvert, this might be harder. So, focus on things that you love. The web is a wonderful source for finding local meetups with like-minded people.
9. Consider Yourself Young
Self-perception is more powerful than you think. When older adults feel younger than they actually are, they tend to live longer.11 So, instead of looking at yourself as “old,” live a little and stay young at heart. Don’t let age hold you back. Want to try something different? Give it a shot. It’s never too late to create new experiences.
10. Be Positive
While it’s easier said than done, looking on the bright side has its perks. Optimism lowers the risk of premature death, likely through its effect on stress.12 It’s another reason to maintain positive friendships, hobbies, and activities.
11. Have Sex More Often
If you wish to be sexually active, embrace it. People who have more orgasms have a 50 percent lower risk of dying early.13 As an added bonus, it will also contribute to stress relief and physical activity.
These actions need to be continuously practiced. Doing it once or twice won’t make a difference! Instead, look at these habits as a lifestyle, not a checklist.
|↑1||Protein. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.|
|↑2||Heart Disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑3||Malik, Vasanti S., Barry M. Popkin, George A. Bray, Jean-Pierre Després, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu. “Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes care 33, no. 11 (2010): 2477-2483.|
|↑4||An, R., and J. McCaffrey. “Plain water consumption in relation to energy intake and diet quality among US adults, 2005–2012.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 29, no. 5 (2016): 624-632.|
|↑5||Prather, A. A., E. S. Epel, J. Arenander, L. Broestl, B. I. Garay, D. Wang, and D. B. Dubal. “Longevity factor klotho and chronic psychological stress.” Translational psychiatry 5, no. 6 (2015): e585.|
|↑6||How Much Sleep Do I Need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑7||Cappuccio, Francesco P., Lanfranco D’Elia, Pasquale Strazzullo, and Michelle A. Miller. “Sleep duration and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies.” Sleep 33, no. 5 (2010): 585-592.|
|↑8||Fishman, Ezra I., Jeremy A. Steeves, Vadim Zipunnikov, Annemarie Koster, David Berrigan, Tamara A. Harris, and Rachel Murphy. “Association between objectively measured physical activity and mortality in NHANES.” Med Sci Sports Exerc 48, no. 7 (2016): 1303-1311.|
|↑9||Brown, Stephanie L., Randolph M. Nesse, Amiram D. Vinokur, and Dylan M. Smith. “Providing social support may be more beneficial than receiving it: Results from a prospective study of mortality.” Psychological science 14, no. 4 (2003): 320-327.|
|↑10||Holt-Lunstad, Julianne, Timothy B. Smith, and J. Bradley Layton. “Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review.” PLoS medicine 7, no. 7 (2010): e1000316.|
|↑11||Rippon, Isla, and Andrew Steptoe. “Feeling old vs being old: Associations between self-perceived age and mortality.” JAMA internal Medicine 175, no. 2 (2015): 307-309.|
|↑12||Kim, Eric S., Kaitlin A. Hagan, Francine Grodstein, Dawn L. DeMeo, Immaculata De Vivo, and Laura D. Kubzansky. “Optimism and Cause-Specific Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study.” American journal of epidemiology 185, no. 1 (2017): 21-29.|
|↑13||Smith, George Davey, Stephen Frankel, and John Yarnell. “Sex and death: are they related? Findings from the Caerphilly cohort study.” Bmj 315, no. 7123 (1997): 1641-1644.|