Cultivate these daily habits to live a long, healthy life.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Eating a balanced diet with a variety of foods promotes a longer and healthier life, particularly if you emphasize healthy and nutritious foods, including fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains. Restricting consumption of fatty meats, processed foods and sugar is also important. The New England Centenarian Study, examining the lifestyles of people who live past the age of 100, reports that almost all people who reach their 100th birthday are lean.
- Other good dietary habits include drinking green tea, which has a wide range of health benefits, including prevention of cancer and heart disease to greater resistance to stress and viruses; taking or eating ginger, to promote joint health; eating dried fruit to help regulate blood pressure, and using a variety of spices (turmeric, cinnamon and oregano in particular), which help keep blood sugar levels healthy.
- Stay active. 15 minutes a day of moderate exercise (such as walking at about 100 steps/minute) makes a significant difference in promoting better physical, mental and emotional health and longevity. More is better of course, but it’s good to know that just a little bit of physical activity can make a big difference in the quality and length of your life.
- Be friendly. Numerous studies show that maintaining social connections – staying involved in the community and nurturing good relationships with friends and family – promotes wellbeing throughout life, and most particularly in the senior years. Conversely, loneliness and isolation are truly dangerous – some studies have found that social isolation is as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes.
- Give of yourself. Volunteering for something you feel is important and of value is not only helpful to the cause, but also improves your health and reduces the odds of premature death. A review of 14 studies published in the Journal of Psychology and Aging reports that adults who volunteered were 25% less likely to die of any cause within a certain period of time – and the effect was even more pronounced in those whose volunteer work had spiritual roots.
- Sleep 7 hours/night. The optimal amount of sleep to get to promote longevity is seven hours/night. Sleeping longer than seven hours – or less than five-and-a-half hours each night have both been linked to shorter lifespans and a higher risk of heart disease, including stroke. Experts stress the importance of going to bed and waking up at about the same time every day, keeping your bedroom quiet, cool and dark, and establishing a healthy and calming sleep routine.