In 1920, the average person saw 54 years old as a long, healthy lifespan. Today, we feel cheated when 78 is cited as the norm. Why are we living longer? Better healthcare, better access to clean water and healthy food as well as public schooling add up to a society that understands the importance of investing in healthy habits.
When it comes to how long you’re going to live, there’s a lot of truth in the saying that genetics is a loaded gun – but your environment is the trigger. You may carry genes for a multitude of diseases, but whether you get them or not is largely dependent on how you live your life.
Are you giving your body the ammunition it needs to aim for a faraway finishing line? We’ve compiled a list of things you can do to help you live longer and yes, getting a better night’s sleep happens to be on that list.
No surprise that we put sleep at the top of our list – we’re a mattress manufacturer after all. All joking aside, sleep heals your body from the abuse of the day, fuels it up to tackle the next day and fortifies your organs to fight against future stress and disease. But if sleep isn’t a priority, feel free to steal these ideas for getting the worst night’s sleep.
When you skip breakfast, your body conserves resources and stores calories in an effort to keep you alive. You know you’re going to eat again at lunch but your body has been slowly starving since you went to bed last night – and your continued denial of food puts all systems in full protection mode.
“Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can make you feel tired and hungry and more likely to reach for high-fat, high-calorie snacks. In fact, people who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight than those who don’t,” says the British Heart Foundation.
A beer or glass of wine with dinner can help you relax after a long day but too much of it and you can kiss your waistline and restful sleep goodnight. A glass of wine packs about 120 nutritionally-empty calories and makes you go to the bathroom – a lot more than normal – long after you finish your drink. According to DrinkAware.com, “Alcohol is a diuretic. It acts on the kidneys to make you pee out much more than you take in – which is why you need to go to the toilet so often when you drink.”
We know we that subtracting harmful foods, like soda and chocolate bars for example, is an important step to staying healthy. But the color of your food choices is very important as well, according to Dr. Oz. “Foods within each color group have properties that target specific cancers. When you eat all the colors, you’re working far more disease-combating nutrients and vitamins into your meal.” While we’re at it, adopting a vegetarian or flexitarian (mostly meat-free) can also help you avoid disease as you age.
In 2001, the US Surgeon General launched the 10,000 Steps Program – an ambitious goal to help a mostly sedentary nation shape up. It might feel overwhelming to consider walking 1 ½ hours daily but countless studies to point to the fact that we need to move our bodies to stay healthy. According to LiveScience, “Past research has shown that walking more can decrease the risk of becoming overweight and obese and developing insulin resistance. But it can also make a difference in your diabetes risk.”
Long term stress is like a gas leak in your home. While you’re obliviously living your life upstairs, the basement is filling up with explosive gas – and it only takes a spark to blow the whole thing to smithereens. You may think you’re coping with stress just fine – that kink in your shoulder notwithstanding – but what you don’t see, can kill you. There’s no one answer that will work for everyone but a few tweaks to your schedule may help you reduce stress and live longer.
Good friends are good for you but we’re not talking about Facebook. Turn the computer off and plan a lunch date with an old friend or invite your family over for a barbeque this weekend. Study after study shows that healthy face-to-face relationships can boost self-esteem and ward off depression. New studies show friendship can actually help us sidestep cancer, slow aggressive cancer growth and improve effectiveness of chemotherapy. Heart attack survivors with a healthy support system live longer, richer lives compared to those who lead isolated lives. Isn’t it time you glammed onto happiness?
Your longer life might actually have more to do with self-determination than formal education. People who make learning part of their daily lives as they age feel more in control of what happens to them because they actively seek out information to help them make smarter choices. “A high sense of control all but wipes out educational differences when it comes to mortality. A person with less education but a high sense of control is practically indistinguishable from a person of high education,” commented Margie Lachman on ConciousLifeNews.com.
Bad things happen to everyone but how we perceive those “bad” things can extend or shorten our lives. “You know you feel better when your attitude is focused on optimism and gratitude. Now research confirms that a feeling of gratitude may not only increase your quality of life by making you smarter, healthier, and more energetic but may optimism may also help you live longer,” according to OptimumWellness. Start a gratitude journal – one thought per day is all you need to help you polish up your rose-colored glasses.
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