8 Simple Habits That’ll Add Years to Your Life
Celebrating your 100th birthday may have once seemed like a pipe dream, but studies show more and more people are living past a century. And believe it or not, making it to the big 1-0-0 takes more than just good genetics and good luck.
In fact, your everyday habits play an important role in determining your longevity. Here are 8 proven and proactive steps you can take to up the odds of living a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life, starting right now.
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1 See the world through rose-colored glasses.
Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but simply believing that your quality of life is pretty good can make you less likely to die prematurely, according to research published in the BMJ.
Not naturally a glass-half-full kind of person? Spend five minutes envisioning your best possible self. In a study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, participants who did this exercise daily saw their overall levels of optimism improve within two weeks.
2 Pour another cup of joe.
Good news, coffee lovers: Avid java drinkers have been found to live longer than non-coffee-drinkers. They also seem to have a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and certain types of cancer, according to Harvard health experts.
Although it’s not totally clear why coffee comes with so many perks, caffeine can be ruled out as an option: Decaf fans reap similar health benefits, possibly because coffee is loaded with antioxidants.
3 Get more massages.
Doctor’s orders — no, really! “Massages increase the production of oxytocin, the feel-good bonding hormone, which lowers stress hormones and normalizes blood pressure,” says integrative health expert and board-certified OB-GYN Felice Gersh, MD.
If you (understandably) can’t afford frequent appointments, just tell your spouse they owe you one for washing the dishes.
4 Move a little more.
You don’t need to be a gym rat or even meet the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Just a “low dose” of regular activity may be enough to boost your lifespan by 22 percent, according to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
So take an after-dinner stroll or park a little further from the mall and walk (or run, if there’s a good sale!) the rest of the way.
5 Order the fish.
Even devoted meat-eaters can benefit from incorporating more fish into their diet. Several studies have tied the intake of omega-3-rich fatty fish, like salmon, to a longer, healthier life.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week, so now might be a good time to finally master chopsticks.
6 Nibble on nuts.
They might be tiny, but nuts are packed with antioxidants, can improve your cholesterol level, and are a good source of fiber (which helps keep you full and your blood sugar stable).
Research published in BMC Medicine found that people who eat nuts regularly have a lower risk of premature death. Just a little goes a long way: A serving size is a small handful, which clocks in at 160-200 calories.
7 Watch the sunset.
Yes, it makes for the perfect Instagram post, but sunset-watching may reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well, says Dr. Gersh.
It also helps your body produce the hormone melatonin, which enhances quality sleep while lowering oxidative stress and decreasing inflammation — both of which can significantly contribute to longevity, says Dr. Gersh.
8 Schedule more girls’ nights.
Not surprising: You live for wine and cheese nights with your girls. Surprising: A strong social network could be the key to living 50% longer, according to research published in PLOS Medicine.
The study suggests that having close friends actually has as significant an impact on your lifespan as not smoking, being active, and maintaining a healthy weight.
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