Everyone wants to live a longer, healthier life. And while some of that is totally up to genetics, there are actually some pretty simple things you can do to make it happen. Read on for nine ways to add years to your life and feel better while doing it.
1. Use a Lot of Sunscreen
The most common mistake people make when applying sunscreen is not lathering on enough of it, so make sure you’re generous with your application; putting on a broad-spectrum sunscreen and avoiding direct sunlight are both crucial if you want to prevent sun damage and cancer. You also need to reapply and make sure you’re not using sunscreen that’s expired.
2. Eat Dark Chocolate & Drink Red Wine
High-quality dark chocolate with a 70 percent or higher cocoa content has flavonoids and antioxidants that are good for your heart and brain, can control stress, can reduce the inflammation associated with age-related diseases, and help prevent blood clots. Just don’t go crazy; you only need one to two ounces a day to reap the benefits.
When it comes to alcohol, research shows that people who drink regularly and in moderation may actually live longer than those who totally abstain. Even better if you choose red wine as it increases heart health and circulation
3. Go on Three Short Runs a Week
If you want to live a long life, you should try to run anywhere from 60 to 144 minutes each week, split into three separate jogs. And you can’t stop as you get older. Inactivity can cause older adults to lose the ability to do things on their own and actually leads to more doctor visits and hospitalizations. Plus, jogging releases endorphins, clears the mind, and gives you a perfect excuse to have ice cream for dessert later. Even if you don’t love going for runs, try to go on as many walks as possible. People who walk for at least 30 minutes a day live four times longer than people who walk less.
4. Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables… And Your Nuts
People who eat seven servings of fruits and veggies every day have a 42 percent lower risk of dying early than those who eat less than one, according to a study by the University College of London. And people who eat an ounce of nuts every day are 20 percent add three years to their life, according to a 2013 Harvard School of Public Health study.
5. Lift Weights
As we get older, our bodies lose muscle and make it easier to store fat which is why the average middle age person loses about one percent of their muscle mass per year. Depressing. But there’s hope! Strength training all of your muscle groups twice a week can help with mobility and balance, protect the joints and ligaments, create a higher metabolism, and, yes, improve longevity.
6. Get Six to Seven Hours of Sleep Each Night
Bad news for people who love to sleep in: Research shows that adults actually live longer if they only get six or seven hours of sleep each night. And while some people need even less sleep than that to happily function, sleep deprivation or less than five hours of shut eye a night can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. Want to live as long as possible? Set your alarm clock for seven hours after you go to bed and don’t hit that snooze button.
7. Maintain Close Relationships
As if being lonely and isolated isn’t depressing enough for most people, studies show that social isolation increases risk of early death by 45 percent. It’s one of the reasons married people live longer, but even if you’re not married, it’s important to make an effort to be involved with other people. That can be through volunteering, joining a group activity, taking classes, or even getting a dog. Anything is possible when you have a friend to do it with.
8. Create a Sense of Purpose
Okay, so that’s a little intangible, but researchers say having direction and goals lowers mortality risk no matter what your age. Your purpose doesn’t have to be something huge like “world peace” either; it can be making your family happy, producing something artistic, or striving to do really well at your job. Having a goal you want to achieve actually prevents stress and all of its harmful effects, and gives real meaning to the phrase “something to live for.”
Want more? Hire a health and wellness coach to get you started.