Tips for a longer (and better) life

Quality of life isn’t measured in years alone. After all, there’s a lot more to happiness and satisfaction of life than living to a ripe old age. None of us want to spend the last decade or two of our lives battling poor health and disability. Fortunately, that’s not inevitable and it’s never too late to make small changes for a longer and better life. A study published in the journal Circulation, found that adopting just 5 healthy habits could extend life expectancy by about 12-14 years. Here are some of those tips for longevity and wellbeing, among others.

7 Tips for a Longer & Healthier Life

  1. Balanced Nutrition

It couldn’t get simpler. If you cut back on processed foods and eat a variety of whole foods, making sure to include all the food groups, you’re lowering your risk of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and other lifestyle diseases. Some nutrients are particularly important for longevity and health, such as antioxidants, which are mainly found in colorful fruit and veggies, and omega-3s from nuts and fatty fish. 

  1. Healthy Bodyweight

You don’t have to be skinny to be healthy and there’s even some good to having a little meat on your body. Being significantly overweight, however, can lower expectancy and quality of life because of the increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. Several studies show a clear connection between obesity and an increased risk of morbidity. 

  1. Stay Active

Staying physically active doesn’t just help burn fat and maintain healthy bodyweight; it can also increase life expectancy by years. To reap the benefits, you don’t even need to set foot in a gym. Moderate exercise such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming can also make a difference. This is because physical activity lowers the risk of mortality risk factors, such as coronary artery disease, stroke, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, and cancer. A review of several studies actually measured mortality risk reduction, showing a decrease of about 30 to 35%. 

  1. Get Outdoors

Most of us associate spending time outdoors with physical activity and its obvious health benefits. However, the benefits go far beyond these. Researchers have long been interested in the effects of time spent in nature on human health, most importantly in terms of mental health. Evidence suggests that greater proximity to nature reduces levels of stress and depression, while cleaner air quality also lowers several health risks. Not surprisingly, researchers found that women living in greener areas had a 12% lower mortality rate. 

  1. Stay Social

As social animals, we have higher requirements from relationships. Socializing is for all practical purposes a basic need that drastically impacts longevity and wellbeing. When you are socially active and engaged in healthy relationships, your stress levels are lower, improving other parameters of health such as heart and brain function, immunity, and hormonal balance. Some findings suggest that maintaining a network of healthy social relationships can lower the risk of early death by up to 50%.

  1. Sleep & Relaxation

Sleep is an essential requirement because of its direct and indirect influence on almost every bodily function. Aside from its role in lowering stress and protecting against neuronal damage, it has been shown to directly impact longevity and quality of life. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep on a regular basis actually increases the risk of early death. 

In addition to getting enough sleep, it helps to take a break from work to unwind regularly. De-stressing activities such as yoga and meditation can help lower levels of stress and the risk of anxiety disorders. Mental health has a significant and often overlooked impact on longevity and quality of life, with the early death risk being 42% higher for pessimists. 

  1. Quit Smoking & Limit Alcohol

This one’s a no brainer. Smoking is tied to a whole range of serious health conditions, from heart disease to lung cancer. It also increases the risk of complications, lowering survival rates from other illnesses. Alcohol may not be as threatening as smoking, but it’s not without risks either. While the occasional glass of wine can be good for your health, consuming more than 1 or 2 drinks a day increases susceptibility to heart, liver, and kidney disease, all of which can reduce quality of life and life expectancy.  

Author Bio -Anita Fernandes. Anita Fernandes has been writing extensively on health and wellness for over a decade. She has expertise in nutrition, fitness, public health, and weight loss and has contributed content to a variety of leading digital health publishers. Anita has a unique perspective on healthy living and lifestyle, as she has battled and overcome eating disorders and obesity. She shares her experiences in an effort to help others overcome the physical and mental health problems that can sometimes seem insurmountable.