Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” I tend to agree.
On the other hand, there is something about being human that causes us to want a long life.
The average life expectancy has been steadily increasing for years. Many people think genes and heredity play a major role in determining how long they will live. But, genetics are not as influential as we once thought.
It appears that other factors, such as eating habits and lifestyle are much more important. This is great news, since it means we can affect the quality and length of our lives by making healthier choices.
Here are 10 habits that will help you live longer:
1. Drink Coffee Or Tea
Do you love your morning cup of joe as much as I do? If so, you can reap some impressive benefits!
Coffee and tea are full of antioxidants. Drinking coffee and/or tea may help prevent chronic disease, which can lead to early death.
Please keep in mind that coffee and tea contain caffeine (unless you drink decaf). Drinking them too late in the day may interrupt your sleep.
Also, if you consume too much caffeine you may feel jittery, so you might want to limit your intake to 4 cups of coffee a day.
2. Don’t Overeat
If you’re like me, you might thinking, “That’s easier said, than done”. (especially when it comes to chocolate)
But, research has shown that reducing caloric intake may increase your life expectancy (7).
Some of the oldest people in Japan eat until they feel about 80% full and then they stop (10).
Obviously, starving yourself is not the goal here. Neither is it recommended. 🙂
But, dishing out smaller servings of food, eating on a smaller plate, chewing slowly or leaving food uneaten are all things we can do to reduce our calorie intake and help prevent overeating.
3. Exercise And Be Active
Studies have shown the ill effects of being a couch potato and not getting enough exercise.
According to Health.com, a 2010 study linked watching too much TV to early death:
The study followed 8,800 adults with no history of heart disease for more than six years. Compared to those who watched less than two hours of TV per day, people who watched four hours or more were 80% more likely to die from heart disease and 46% more likely to die from any cause. All told, 284 people died during the study.
Another study showed a link between sitting too much and premature death (11).
Exercise is essential to living a long and healthy life (12).
You might even be able to increase your lifespan by exercising as little as 15 minutes a day (13).
The more you exercise and stay active, the more you can reap the benefits (14).
Exercising more than 150 minutes a week has the most benefits, but any time you move is good for your health and can help increase longevity.
If you’re just starting out with a fitness plan, focus on gradually increasing the time you spend exercising.
For example, the first week you could set a goal of walking 15 minutes (or 5 or 10 minutes, whatever works for you), 5 days a week. Then the following week you can increase your goal to walking 20 minutes a day. Continue increasing your goal each week until you’re walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. By then you’ve reached your 150 minutes a week of exercise!
You might want to try this stand and sit test which can predict longevity.
Warning: It’s not for the faint of heart. My husband and I just tried it out. Lol!
Let me know how you do!
4. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is linked to a decreased lifespan.
A study of women in the UK showed that smokers may lose 10 years of their lifespan and are much more likely to die prematurely (15).
The good news is that it’s never too late to quit smoking. Here are some resources to help people quit smoking.
5. Include Spices In Your Diet
Consuming spices such as turmeric and cinnamon can help you live longer.
Turmeric has a bright yellow chemical compound called curcumin. It’s a member of the ginger family.
Curcumin has many antioxidants which protect the body from oxidative stress (16).
Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory which fights against cardiovascular, pulmonary and autoimmune diseases (17).
Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants and smells great! It’s an anti-inflammatory and lowers blood sugar.
Here’s a recipe for Cinnamon Tea.
6. Manage Stress
Reducing stress and anxiety are essential skills to learn for increasing your lifespan.
Everyone experiences stress in one way or another. People experience different types of stress and anxiety, and in varying amounts.
The key is learning skills to manage the stress in our lives so it doesn’t negatively impact our health. Having a positive outlook is often part of this.
You might like to check out these tips for managing stress.
Studies show that laughter and having a positive outlook is good for you and may actually add years to your life (18).
7. Sleep Well
When you’re sleeping your body works hard to heal and rejuvenate.
Developing a regular sleep routine is essential to your health. Relaxing habits such as taking a warm bath and reading a book can help you fall asleep faster.
It’s also important to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. I realize this is a challenge for those with small children, or a job where you’re constantly changing the hours you work. But, it’s a good idea to keep your sleeping schedule as regular as possible.
The recommendation is to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleeping much more or less can shorten your life expectancy (19).
Please keep in mind that we all go through seasons of life that we get more or less sleep than others. Many times this cannot be helped. So try not to stress if you’re in one of those times now.
8. Eat Nuts
Amazingly, eating nuts just might add a few years to your life!
Nuts are chock full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, fiber, and protein.
One study showed that people who ate at least 3 servings of nuts per week lowered their risk of premature death by 39% (20).
Eating nuts has to have a therapeutic effect on inflammation, heart disease, some cancers and diabetes (21).
Here are some healthy nut recipes you might like to try.
9. Eat Your Fruits And Veggies
Filling your diet with lots of plant foods is a healthy choice for many reasons.
There are many ways to get your fill of fruits and veggies each day:
- add them to smoothies
- eat veggies raw with hummus or your favorite dip
- roast vegetables in the oven with seasoning
- make fruit kabobs
- make a fruit and yogurt parfait
- ferment your veggies to get a healthy dose of probiotics
- stir fry
- make a giant salad
10. Do Things That Make You Happy
We may not be able to control bad things that happen to us in life (you can read about my experience here if you like). But, we can control how we respond to difficult situations.
We can mope around feeling sorry for ourselves. (been there, done that, boo!) But, it’s been my experience that this never helps.
Choosing to live life with joy is contagious!
I’m not saying you need to become Pollyanna. But a little happiness never hurt anyone, right!?
If we frame our thoughts in a positive way, we can keep ourselves on track and stay hopeful. When we take the time to look up from our own problems, we are better able to see other people who need support and encouragement.
When we are intentional about keeping a positive mindset, it can actually add years to our life. One study found a correlation between feelings of happiness and an increase in longevity (24).
One of my favorite verses that gives me perspective when I need it the most is “The joy of the Lord is my strength”. (Nehemiah 8:10)
Do you have a favorite verse, song or activity that helps you stay positive and find joy and happiness in everyday life.
Genetics play a small role in life expectancy. But, we can develop healthy habits that will greatly decrease our risk of disease and help us live longer.
What do you think about this list? Do you have healthy habits you would add?
You might like to watch this short video about a 110-year-old man and the 5 foods he recommends eating for a long, healthy life.