What if you could take matters into your own hands and add a decade to your life expectancy? Now you can, says a recent Harvard University study. All you have to do is consistently practice five positive healthy habits.
The study itself included over 100,000 women and men, monitored for over 30 years. The focus was on how much time can be added to a life if healthy habits are practiced.
So, what are the five positive life habits?
Not only will not smoking add years to your life, but it can also increase the quality of your life. Smokers are prone to develop diseases, including cancers of the lung, throat, and mouth. Smoking also increases your chances of heart disease and stroke.
If you do smoke, quitting may be easier said than done. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, make a long-term plan and stick with it. If you must, include medications to help reduce the withdrawal symptoms and help keep you on track. Also, consider counseling or a support group. The earlier you stop smoking, the more years you add to your life.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the top two healthiest habits, along with not smoking, that will help add a decade to your life. This can be achieved in several ways, including diet and exercise. A better way to look at it, though, is to establish a healthy weight management plan, which will include both of these.
Carrying fat around the abdomen is a sign of higher risk for developing certain diseases. To add years to your life, whittle this down and maintain it under 35 inches for women and under 40 inches for men.
Being overweight creates more risk of developing cancer and heart problems by way of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and hyperglycemia. To add more years to your life, determine your ideal healthy weight, reach it, then strive to maintain it.
Put in at Least 30 Minutes of Exercise a Day
As we know, movement is imperative to our health. We often think we have to reserve hours each week and don’t know how we can fit it all into our schedule. This leads to sporadic workouts or none at all. But dedicating at least 30 minutes a day to exercising, according to the Harvard study, will benefit your long-term health.
Exercising can provide increases in energy and stronger immunity. It will also boost your mental health, lowering levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. Together these benefits will help increase the efficiency of your body, thus adding more years to your life.
To get started, think about what it is you enjoy doing. Is it fast walking, running, cycling, or swimming? Do you like to play tennis? Doing what you already enjoy will help keep you motivated.
Next, look at your schedule. Find the time to fit 30 minutes a day in and decide what you will do each day. Stick to this for a minimum of two weeks, preferably four. Be sure to include various workouts to include aerobic, core, strength training, and stretching.
Whatever you do, make those thirty minutes count each and every day.
Keep Your Alcohol Intake Low
With all the news today about how wine and alcohol can actually benefit your health, it is moderate alcohol intake that will add the most years to your life.
Higher consumptions of alcohol can lead to:
- certain types of cancer
- heart arrhythmias
- cirrhosis of the liver
- high blood pressure
These are just a few of the health risks associated with excessive alcohol intake. Curbing this now and moderating your intake will help add that extra decade to your life.
A Healthy Diet is Key
We are what we eat, and we live as long as what we eat is good for us. Being highly selective in what you put in your body is perhaps the key to maintaining good health throughout your lifetime, including that extra decade.
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
- include foods high in antioxidants (e.g., dark green vegetables, berries)
- include fiber (e.g., plant-based foods, whole grains, fruits, vegetables)
- include foods that lower heart disease risk (e.g., legumes-beans, peas, and lentils)
- Avoid foods high in sugar and salt content, as well as refined carbohydrates and saturated fat (e.g., processed foods)
One suggestion to get you started is to list out all the healthy foods you and your family actually like and will eat. Carry this list in your wallet, so you always have it with you when out to eat or grocery shopping.
While these health recommendations are not new, additional proof that they work in adding years to your life can add the needed push to get you started. Begin creating your own healthy habits today. If you do smoke, make a plan to quit. Determine what your ideal healthy weight needs to be and develop your own weight management plan. Commit to 30 minutes of exercise each day. Curb your alcohol intake, and, finally, maintain a healthy diet. Isn’t another decade worth it?