Forget anti-aging supplements and other hocus pocus: The key to a longer life more likely resides in developing a few everyday habits.
Research shows that some surprisingly simple practices can improve your health and extend your lifespan. Best of all, these habits cost you little or no money.
Following are a few things you can do every day that may help you to live longer.
1. Exercise more than recommended
It’s probably no secret to anyone that regular exercise can lengthen your lifespan. But a recent study suggests that going beyond the recommended amounts of activity is especially beneficial to your health.
A recently published study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation found that people who exercise moderately for more than 150 to 300 minutes per week live longer than those who fail to surpass that benchmark.
The same is true of those who exercise vigorously for more than 75 to 150 minutes weekly.
The study analyzed data from more than 100,000 participants during a 30-year follow-up period and found that those who exercised beyond the norm had a “significantly reduced risk of mortality.”
According to a summary of the findings:
“The reduction was 21-23% for people who engaged in two to four times the recommended amount of vigorous physical activity, and 26-31% for people who engaged in two to four times the recommended amount of moderate physical activity each week.”
2. Spend time outdoors
Spending time outdoors can be a feast for the senses. And as it turns out, hanging out with Mother Nature might extend your life.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia in England found that people who are exposed to greenspace more often report higher levels of health, including a lower risk of:
- Premature death
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Preterm birth
- High blood pressure
In a summary of the research findings, the study’s lead author, Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, says:
“Although we have looked at a large body of research on the relationship between greenspace and health, we don’t know exactly what it is that causes this relationship.”
3. Eat nuts
Munching on walnuts may boost your cardiovascular health, according to a 2021 study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
Those who ate a quarter-cup to a half-cup of walnuts each day for two years had lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol than a similar group of people who ate no walnuts.
Other studies have found similar health benefits to eating nuts. For example, a 2013 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that those who eat nuts every day live longer and more healthful lives.
4. Make use of safety devices
The world celebrates bold and reckless folks — at least until they go “splat.”
But if you are willing to live a quieter, more cautious life, it likely will extend your time on this planet. Buckling your seat belt, strapping on your helmet before a bike ride, wearing a life jacket in a boat — all these things reduce your risk of a premature demise.
Although these measures should be common sense, in practice they sometimes seem more like uncommon sense. For instance, around 750 lives lost in motorcycle accidents in 2017 could have been spared if the cyclist had been wearing a helmet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, around 2,500 lives could have been saved that same year if more people wore seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Can keeping your choppers clean really extend your life? The evidence suggests so.
Some research has found a link between being diagnosed with gum disease and developing heart disease. It’s even more firmly established that severe gum disease raises your risk for mouth cancer and other serious health issues.
In fact, when geriatrician Dr. Thomas Perls — a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine — created his “Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator,” he included a question about flossing for those who use the tool.
6. Sleep longer
A night of blissful slumber leaves you feeling refreshed. It also may help you live longer.
Not only does proper sleep leave you less drowsy — and thus less susceptible to accidents — but studies have shown that those who get adequate sleep may live longer.
For example, 50-year-olds who sleep five hours or less nightly have a 25% higher risk of dying during the next 25 years than those who get more sleep, according to researchers at University College London.
However, you shouldn’t sleep your life away, no matter how tempting the prospect sounds.
Some research has found links between excessive sleep — such as nine hours or more nightly — and health problems such as psychiatric diseases, higher body mass index and increased risk of stroke.
7. Stay hydrated
Finally, keeping your body hydrated offers a host a benefits that go well beyond leaving you less thirsty.
Adults who remain sufficiently hydrated are less likely to develop chronic health problems and less likely to show signs of aging, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health.
Hydrated adults may also live longer than their parched counterparts, the researchers found. Experts say this is likely due to the fact that staying hydrated helps keep sodium levels in proper balance.