People are forever seeking ways to expand their life expectancies. Unfortunately, when it comes to living longer, there’s no easy solution. Exercise and nutritional requirements seem to shift on an annual basis, and scientists are constantly debating whether certain foods (eggs, coffee) help or hinder us in our quest for longevity.
While there’s no one key to living longer, there are steps you can take to boost life expectancy and improve overall health, so those extra years will be happy ones. Here are some of our top tips for living longer, healthier lives.
Doctors have been advising patients to lose weight for decades. One of the best ways to assess whether you’re currently at a healthy weight is to take your BMI, or body mass index, which is a ratio of weight to height. Most healthy people fall within the 18.5 to 24.9 BMI range. However, it is possible to be healthy if your BMI is slightly outside these numbers.
Recent research suggests that waist measurements may be more accurate than BMI in assessing health. According to a recent New York Times article, women with a waist measuring 35 or more inches or men with a waist measuring 40 inches could be carrying around a perilous amount of abdominal fat. More dangerous than subcutaneous fat, deep belly fat can increase one’s risk of developing potentially fatal illnesses like cancer and heart disease. If you want to live longer, take steps to beat belly fat by embracing a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein, and fatty acids.
Is that expensive gym membership going to waste? We all know that working out is important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, yet many of us still struggle to get in a run or spin class at the end of the day. Even if we are making it to the gym, we might not be getting the kind of workout we need to thrive. Although experts recommend getting in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, that might not be sufficient to get your heart pumping and ward off obesity and chronic diseases. If you want to increase your lifespan, make an effort to participate in weight training on a regular basis. Not only does weight training help increase strength and metabolism, but it also enables people to age more gracefully.
In particular, maintaining grip strength is crucial during the latter decades of life. Keeping your hands strong ensures you will be able to function later in life. After all, seniors need to be able to cook, clean, bathe, and handle objects without discomfort if they want to live independently. According to a study of 8,300 retirees out of the University of Michigan, almost half of all participants suffered hand grip strength classified as weak. Moreover, individuals with weak muscles had a 50% higher risk of early death. Exercising for just three hours a week went a long way toward extending youth and health.
No, we’re not saying you should lie out every day without sunblock. However, getting a moderate amount of sunlight each day can do wonders for your stress levels and your overall health. The vitamin D we get from the sun helps us build strong bones and fight off illnesses ranging from heart disease to depression. With experts estimating that half of all adults don’t get enough vitamin D, there’s never been a better time to step out for a walk in the sun. Fifteen minutes of SPF-free outdoor exposure each day is sufficient to maintain vitamin D levels in most healthy people, so you don’t need to strip down and hit the beach to stay healthy.
Most people know flossing is good for their teeth and gums, but they might not realize this oral hygiene step protects overall health as well. Along with preventing gum disease, flossing may guard against heart disease and even increase your life expectancy. When gums become inflamed, individuals become susceptible to bacterial infections that can travel to the arteries. Your body then creates inflammation to fight the infection, causing arteries to narrow and forcing the heart to work harder. By flossing, you can stop this dangerous process in its tracks and ensure your smile stays bright no matter how long you live.
Just because you suffer from a chronic condition doesn’t mean your lifespan will necessarily be shortened. However, it does mean you will likely need to see a doctor more often to stay healthy. While everyone should make time for an annual physical, people with conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes need to visit their doctors more frequently. Be proactive and ask about medications, diets, and treatment options for nipping these problems in the bud. In some cases, swallowing a daily pill could be enough to add years to your life. Additionally, regular doctor visits can help detect any health issues early, when treatment is likely to be most effective.
Most of us live our lives believing that the early bird gets the worm and hard work is its own reward. Well, science might disagree on those points. Recently uncovered fossil data suggests that taking a day off now and then could actually extend lifespans. The University of Kansas report examined fossils from 5 million years ago to the present day and determined that species that needed more energy to function tended to die out rapidly. On the other hand, species with low energy levels survived. While no one is saying you should quit your job and spend your days lounging by the pool, the occasional vacation day might just be the key to longevity.
However you opt to spend your days, happiness can have a profound impact on your life and health. According to a study published in the journal Age and Ageing, research reveals that an increase in happiness translates to a noticeable reduction in mortality. With that in mind, it’s important to seek out ways to improve physical and psychological well-being. These methods may include individual activities, government policies, and community programs.
By living your best life, you might just be able to live a little longer.