Here are research-backed habits you can adopt every day to improve your chances of a long, healthy life. What you do every day affects your life, so adopt good habits now.
A long and healthy life is an achievable goal. There are things everyone can do to reduce the risk of many age-related diseases, add years to life, and make the dream of a long and 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? According to research, regular physical activity has been shown to counteract normal muscle aging and help preserve muscle mass.
How to do it? To get the most out of 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 muscle-strengthening activity such as lifting weights or pressing. -oops, at least two days a week. That’s roughly half an hour a day during the work week, and the activity doesn’t have to come from one workout at the gym. Even short bursts of physical activity add up, and many experts (and guidelines) say it’s best to spread them out.
Find something that you enjoy and that is sustainable in the long term. When it’s something you can do relatively easily, it becomes a habit. It might be better to keep some exercise equipment at home where the barrier to using it is lower.
2. Stay on top of your health exams
Why is this important? Routine check-ups can reduce the risk of premature death by helping to prevent diseases or catch them earlier when they are easier to treat.
How to do it? Simply check with your doctor to make sure you are up-to-date on your check-ups. Depending on your age, gender, 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. Limit red meat and processed meat
Why is this important? Much research has linked vegetable-based diets to longer lifespans. However, this does not mean that you have to give up meat completely. 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 meat, have been shown to reduce the risk of a range of diseases. and some types of cancer, according to research published in Nutrients in 2021.
How to continue? If it’s more sustainable for you to switch to a diet consisting mostly of poultry and fish, rather than switching to an all-vegetarian diet, that’s a step in a potentially healthier direction. Start by reducing your consumption of beef and processed meats such as deli meats, cold meats and sausages.
Replace them with lean sources of protein such as fish, chicken and turkey, as well as vegetarian sources such as legumes and quinoa. It can be helpful to experiment with healthy foods to find ones you like. If you need additional 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 injury-related death in people aged 65 and over, and fall mortality is worsening, particularly in people aged 85 and over. Core strength is essential for balance. It’s very common to be slightly out of balance, but most people don’t even notice it because we automatically correct it with our muscles. If your core is weak, you can’t right yourself this way and you’re more likely to fall.
How to do it ? Do exercises to strengthen your core. For an easy habit that can help you, use only your core and leg strength when getting up from a chair, not your arms. Using your arms reduces the strain on your core muscles. To improve balance, try standing on one leg 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? According to research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2019, spending a lot of time sitting increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes, even if you exercise.
How to do it? If you work from home, you may need to do something extra to add some exercise to your day. You don’t have to take these natural breaks when entering and exiting a building, having a one-on-one conversation with coworkers, or moving to a meeting room. So you can take a walk around the block, take a break from chores like making the 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 the risk of mortality, the ideal number of steps per day is between 6,000 and 8,000 for older people 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 throughout the day, even if it’s just for a minute every hour.
6. Adopt good sleep hygiene
Why is this important? Good sleep predicts longevity. And that doesn’t just mean more sleep, but 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 depend not only on the quantity, but also on the quality of sleep. For adults ages 18 to 60, aim for seven or more hours of sleep a night, for people ages 61 to 64, seven to nine hours a night, and for people age 65 and older, aim for seven to eight hours of sleep.
How to achieve? Good sleep hygiene includes regular sleep patterns, limiting caffeine and alcohol, especially before bed, and avoiding the use of electronic devices before bed. If you have good sleep hygiene but still have problems with daytime sleepiness, it would be a good idea to see your doctor to rule out sleep apnea.
7. Take time to be grateful
Why is this important? Although evidence examining the effects of gratitude practices on health is limited, gratitude can make you more likely to participate in healthy activities such as exercise, as well as more likely to seek help from love when you have a health problem.
How to do it? Practice gratitude by taking the time to “sit, think, and be grateful. Breathe and think about what is good in the world and what you value. This will calm 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 associated with negative health outcomes as well as loneliness, depression, stress and anxiety. According to a study published online in the journal Aging and Society in July 2022, having just two to four close friends can reduce the risk.
How to do it ? Connect with your friends, whether by text or phone, and plan to spend time together. Make sure they know you care about them. If you let them know you care, they’re much more likely to let you know they care too, so making time for these conversations is really important.
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