You can find “the elixir of life” in every day habits, because, if you stay healthy enough, you can really enjoy your golden years as a senior. We asked medical experts for the most impressive things you can do or change in your life to live longer, starting today. Make a habit from these healthy advices and you will never regret it.
Only by getting quality sleep, your years as a senior will be improved and all those damaging effects that are linked to lack of sleep will disappear. The best part in all is that not only that you will live longer, but you will live a better life.
1. Get quality sleep
We lead busy lives, and the part of our day that often ends up getting cut is sleep. But if you want to actually have more days in your life, you need enough shut-eye. “People should aim to have at least seven to eight hours of good sleep each night—any less will decrease the immune system,” says Sonya W. Thomas, MD, a PIH Health Family Medicine doctor.
Studies show that poor sleep can lead to all kinds of health problems, from obesity and heart disease to depression, says sleep expert Richard Shane, PhD, creator of the Sleep Easily method. “Good sleep can help reverse all of those damaging effects, which can help you live longer,” he says.
In addition, he says good sleep can help your energy level, cognitive function, and personal relationships. “So, you don’t just live a longer life, you feel good and live a better life,” Dr. Shane says.
2. Practice preventative medicine
No one likes going to the doctor, but having all recommended checkups and preventative screenings for your age, sex, and family history is worth it. “Regular screening checkups can increase your life by potentially finding preventable or modifiable diseases in their infancy,” says Dr. Jani.
“If blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol are found earlier and treated adequately through lifestyle changes and/or medication, then a potential future heart attack or stroke can be prevented.” Although some research has questioned whether annual doctor visits improve health outcomes, you still should have all preventative screenings your doctor recommends.
3. Think positive
A positive outlook on life in general has also been shown to increase lifespan. A recent study from Harvard looked at how levels of optimism affected different health problems, and found the most optimistic people had a 16 percent lower risk of death from cancer, a 38 percent lower risk of death from heart disease and respiratory disease, and a 39 percent lower risk of dying from stroke.
The researchers believe that having a positive outlook makes you more likely to engage in healthy behaviors like exercising and eating right; but that it might also be connected to lower levels of inflammation.
4. Take care of your teeth
The condition of your teeth could be a reflection of your overall health, so daily brushing and flossing may help extend your life. Studies have shown a link between poor oral health and risk of death, and gum disease has also been associated with mouth cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
“There is a connection, but it is complex and not completely understood,” says Dr. Dewar. “Healthy teeth lower the number of bad bacteria in the body and also allow us to eat a fuller and more diverse diet—things all improve overall health.” Your dentist can also help prevent pneumonia.
5. Take a vacation
We often find these awe-inspiring moments when traveling—and science says simply checking out on a vacation could be one way how to live longer. One large study of middle-aged men at high risk for heart disease found that those who took annual vacations were less likely to die. Another study found similar results in women.
“I am a huge proponent of taking time off and in scheduling vacations to help not only reduce stress, but to increase an individual’s overall happiness,” says Dr. Thomas. “Those with less stress have a stronger immune system and may be more likely to fight off cancer-causing agents.
It is also important to take time off if you feel your body needs the rest.” Can’t afford a luxury vacation? Have a stay-cation instead, which can also help in stress reduction, Dr. Thomas says. Plus, here’s scientific proof vacationing helps your career.
6. Maintain a healthy weight and shape
Being overweight or obese is associated with a host of life-shortening health issues, including heart disease and diabetes. In particular, being “apple-shaped,” or having extra weight around the middle (greater than a 39.4-inch waist for women and 47.2 inch for men), was linked to a greater risk of death in a European study.
“In the long-term, people will want to reduce their risk of insulin resistance,” Dr. Thomas says. “When people eat, the sugars that they bring into their bodies from their meals need to go somewhere.” Exercise and a healthy diet can help it from going to your mid-section.
7. Get some plants
If you can’t be in nature, bring nature to you to help reap the health benefits of green living. A study from the University of Georgia found that five ornamental houseplants, including English ivy, waxy leaved plants, and ferns, reduced the level of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in indoor air.
These pollutants can lead to health issues from cancer to neurological disorders, and cause up to 1.6 million death a year, the study authors say. So, filling your house with plants could potentially reduce your risk of these deadly diseases.