Living longer isn't just about luck or good genes. It's also not about trendy diet regimens or miracle supplements. Rather, science has found that some easy, basic lifestyle changes can mean the difference between living into your golden years and dying before your time. These are some everyday habits that can add years to your life. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Having Strong Relationships
"People who are in happier, more satisfying relationships live longer," Dr. Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, told CNN recently. The study, which has been ongoing for nearly a century, tracks the effect of various life changes on longevity. One major finding: "The most important predictor of who was going to be a healthy, happy octogenarian was how satisfied they were in their relationships," said Waldinger. Older people who are more socially connected than others even exhibit lower rates of dementia, and experts advise considering social interaction to be as important to health as diet and exercise.
Getting Regular Exercise
In September, the New York Times reported on two studies that found regular exercise can seriously benefit longevity. Scientists found that men and women who took more than 9,000 daily steps were about 70 percent less likely to die early than those who were less active.
Keeping a Sense of Purpose
A 2019 study published in JAMA found a link between a strong sense of purpose in life and a lower risk of dying from any cause after age 50. Researchers tracked about 7,000 adults older than 50 for five years; they found participants who had the lowest life-purpose scores were twice as likely to have died than those with the highest scores.
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In a study published in the journal BMJ Open in 2020, Finnish researchers found that being under heavy stress shortened men's lives 2.8 years and women's 2.3 years. (Experiencing a normal amount of life stress seemed not to affect lifespan.) Chronic severe stress seems to cause an inflammatory response in the body, which may increase the risk of heart disease and cancer and even shrink the brain.
Avoiding Red Meat
A study published in BMJ found that consuming more red meat is associated with an increased risk of dying from eight common diseases (including cancer, diabetes and heart disease)—and from any cause at all. Analyzing health data from 537,000 adults, researchers found that people who consumed the most red meat had a 26 percent higher chance of dying than those who ate the least. People who ate the most white meat, including poultry and fish, were 25 percent less likely to die than people who consumed the least. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.