November 07, 2018
Many factors determine your overall health and longevity, but not all of them are within your control. Things like genetics, gender, socioeconomic status, and education all play a part in how you age, and how long you live. However, there are many healthy habits you can develop (or bad ones you can break) to actively increase your life expectancy and improve your quality of life for years to come.
You’re probably aware of the ways exercise can slim your waistline, but you may not know that daily workouts can also play a major role in helping you feel younger, longer. Research proves that engaging in moderate to vigorous activity for at least 30 minutes a day will go a long way toward lengthening your life. In fact, one study showed that people who exercise for roughly three hours a week had DNA and cells that were nearly nine years younger than those of non-exercisers.
Double the impact by working out outdoors — life expectancy can be improved simply by going outside, which increases sun exposure, and therefore, Vitamin D production. Just be sure to wear your sunscreen!
Spending time with friends, family, and loved ones can work wonders for both your physical and mental well-being. Making and maintaining social connections is especially important as you enter your golden years. Researchers followed over one thousand people over the age of 70 for a decade, and found that those with the strongest network of friends lived longer than others.
Commit to a healthy diet, and your body will thank you. This includes eating fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding sweets, meats, and excess sodium when possible, and sticking to small to moderate portions. Many studies conclude that limiting calories can lower the production of T3, a thyroid hormone that slows the metabolism and speeds up the aging process.
It may sound too good to be true, but flossing your teeth everyday can in fact result in a longer, healthier life. Flossing removes harmful bacteria from your gumline, which prevents the spread of bacteria and plaque to your arteries. One study indicates that flossing, combined with proper dental hygiene, can add 6.4 years to your life expectancy.
While it may be far from the most fun way to lengthen your life, visiting your doctor for annual exams and screenings is one of the most effective ways to stay healthy for the long haul. Medical tests and screenings help detect diseases before they spread, and can even help prevent certain maladies from forming altogether.
Chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and high cholesterol can all be controlled with medication, which is why it’s important to see your physician on a regular basis, and adjust your treatment plan as needed.
None of us plan to live forever, but staying in tune with your body and behaviors can help make the aging process a smooth one. Eat well, watch your portions, and remember to stay active, even if that means taking a brisk walk around your neighborhood a few times a week. Remaining close with your loved ones is another surefire way to add years to your life and ensure you live happily into the future.
Interested in trying a group fitness class? Try Interval Training: Every Tuesday at Independence LIVE (it’s free for Independence Blue Cross members but registration is required)