It’s a common saying in the health community that people die because they don’t know how to live longer. The average life expectancy in 1920 was 54, and today, it’s 78. Perhaps this radical increase was a result of becoming more attuned to what’s good for our health and what’s not. It’s becoming more and more evident that genetics are only a fraction of what determines our longevity.
Paradoxically, it seems to take more effort to reach an early grave. Avoiding unhealthy habits such as bad eating, smoking, and lack of exercise can increase your life expectancy by as much as 12 years. The following tips will show you that it’s exceedingly simple, and cost-effective, to live a healthier and longer life.
Drink lightly—lightly! The Journal of the American college of Cardiology linked moderate drinking—one drink a day for women and two for men—to significant health benefits. For some, alcohol is a necessity. It’s cheaper than therapy. But you should always consume lightly. Surprisingly, studies have shown that the risk of dying is 25 percent lower compared to those who don’t drink at all. A little is good, a lot is not.
Be optimistic. Living positively costs nothing. A Mayo Clinic study in 2002 said that optimistic people decrease their risk of early death by 50 percent compared to those who are pessimistic. Pessimism breeds stress, which changes your immune system, causes high blood pressure, and isolates people socially. It isn’t easy to suddenly change your outlook, but considering that happy people tend to live 35 percent longer, it’s worth it to put forth the effort.
Avoid overeating. Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who Lived Longest, found that the oldest people in Japan have a habit of stopping meals when they’re 80 percent full. Eating less is scientifically proven to help you age slower. Consuming fewer calories inhibits production of T3, the Thyroid hormone that slows metabolism and speeds aging. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach, so spend less money the next time you’re at the food counter.
Be a social butterfly. Loneliness can literally break your heart. Health.com says that people who lack a strong network of friends and family are prone to heart disease. Excessive solitude can result in similar risks posed by high cholesterol, blood pressure, and even smoking. Find friends and keep them—they may save your life!
Turn off the TV. Dr. J. Lennert Veerman, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland, ran a study in 2008 that had some sobering results: After the age of 25, every hour you spend watching TV decreases your life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. Health.com says that people who watch four or more hours of TV per day were 80 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 46 percent more likely to die from any cause. As frightening as this sounds, it makes sense when you ponder the reasons why. Humans weren’t meant for sedentary behavior. It’s highly unnatural to sit in front of the television for hours on end. Canceling your cable has compelling health benefits and obvious financial benefits.
Get down. Routine sexual intercourse can tack on as many as three years to your life. Don’t believe it? Getting down improves your sleep, lowers your blood pressure, boosts your immunity and protects your heart. It also burns calories. Love your partner and love yourself. Get down.
Laugh. It’s the best medicine. A funny movie, a hilarious friend, or a witty book can reduce levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Laughing releases endorphins that act as painkillers and increases blood circulation. The opposite of laughter—anger and hostility—skyrockets the likelihood of a heart attack, according to Dr. David Fein, medical doctor at Princeton Longevity Center.
Avoid the sun. Finding the perfect balance of sunlight will allow you to obtain healthy levels of Vitamin D, but too much can result in skin cancer and other undesirable consequences, such as wrinkles, saggy skin, and fine lines. Adding sunscreen to your daily regimen can promote a longer life.
Toss the cigarettes. Quitting smoking is perhaps the single most important thing you can do increase your life expectancy. The American Journal of Public Health says that those who quit smoking by the age of 35 can add six to eight years to their life. Studies have shown that one single cigarette can shave 11 minutes from your life. When you consider the financial burdens involved—one pack a day at $5.50 costs $2,000 a year—it becomes crystal clear not much good comes from smoking.
Exercise the demons. Amid the wondrous effects that regular exercise can have on your heart, mind and metabolism, is the effect it can have on your life expectancy. Even moderate exercise, such as a 30 minute walk each day, can add up to four years to your life.
Applying these health tips to your life will give you the fortune of living longer. Our advice is free, and so is the decision for good health.