No matter who you ask, all people really have the same goal: to get the most out of their life. Usually, that means living one that is happy, fulfilling, and long. There are a number of things that can be done to achieve this, and you may be surprised to find out that you are already doing them. These five simple things are signs that you’ll live longer and happier.
5 Signs You’ll Live Longer Than Most People Your Age
The secret to living longer really isn’t a secret at all: it’s right there in front of us, all we have to choose is whether or not to follow it. Though there are no guarantees in life if you are already doing these five things you’re probably going to be around for a long, long time.
1. Your Happiness is One of Your Top Priorities
Did you know that simply by being happy you can reduce your chance of early death? A study done over a five year period shows that happy people reduce their risk by 3.7%. (1) In fact, many studies have found that someone who perceives themselves as having high wellbeing, aka they are happy, will live longer. (2)
Many things contribute to having high wellbeing, including (2):
- life satisfaction
- absence of negative emotions
- positive emotions
On average, happy people tend to live 18% longer than non-happy people. (3) This is why making your happiness a priority is extremely important. Though life circumstances can be challenging, you can choose to have a positive attitude. That’s right, you can wake up each day and decide to be happy, a sort of fake-it-’till-you-make-it strategy.
For those who struggle with happiness, there are a few things you can do to make it easier:
- Choose healthy habits
- Write a “happiness mantra” and repeat to yourself every morning
- Look for the silver lining or the positive in every situation, however small- Cut out negative people, instead spend time around happy, positive ones
- Rid yourself of bad habits that you know are bringing you down
- Talk to yourself with love
- Learn to say no (but also, to sometimes say yes!)
- Prioritize “you” time, whatever that looks like for you
- Get help: see your doctor or a therapist
2. You Maintain Your Social Networks
Humans were never meant to be 100% solitary creatures, no matter how introverted you may be. Having good relationships with others has a massive impact on your life expectancy: those that nurture their social networks live up to 50% longer than those who don’t (4) and having even just three close personal social ties decreases your risk of early death by 200%. (5)
Having healthy relationships with others does so many things for your health:
- Improves your ability to handle stress (6)
- Improves heart function (7)
- Improves hormonal function (7)
- Improves immunity (7)
- Positive impact on mental health (8)
- All of these things will help to reduce your risk of developing chronic disease, which will help you live longer.
- Having a good circle of friends or family who supports you also helps you to achieve the first item on this list (happiness), so get out there and make friends, reconnect with old ones, and put in the effort to develop your social circles. If this is something you struggle with, there are many avenues to finding like-minded people:
- Join clubs or recreational activities
- Try apps such as Bumble BFF or meet-up apps
- Take group classes (language, art, music, fitness, etc)
There are so many ways to meet new people and connect with your community, so don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone a little bit. The reward will far exceed the risk.
3. You Eat a Healthy Diet
The one everyone has been waiting for, eating well. While yes we are all tired of hearing it, if you put good things into your body, your body will thank you for it. Here are a few “rules” for you to follow:
Don’t overeat: There is without a doubt a link between overall caloric intake (how much you eat) and longevity (how long you live). Eat what you need to support your activity level without going over and you will live longer. (9, 10, 11)
Eat plenty of plant foods: Studies show that diets high in plant foods (fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, potatoes and sweet potatoes, etc.) reduce the risk of premature death, as well as prevent disease, depression, and dementia. (12, 13, 14)
Include healthy fats: There are so many benefits to foods that are high in healthy fats, like nuts, avocados, and olive oil. A study done using 350,000 people found that subjects who ate nuts had a 4-27% lower chance of dying during the study period. (15) The optimal serving appeared to be one per day (15)
A healthy diet also includes limiting your intake of certain things, such as sugary and salty foods, processed foods, as well as substances such as alcohol and drugs (namely smoking).
Essentially, when you eat a healthy diet, you will have less systemic inflammation and stress on your body, your organs and body systems will function better, you will be less likely to develop depression, you will have more energy, and you will have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight. All of this will contribute to a long and happy life
4. You Include Regular Physical Activity
Of course, you can’t talk about longevity without talking about movement. It really is simple: the more you move, the longer you will be able to. When you stop moving, eventually moving becomes more difficult. Studies show that people with greater mobility in old age have a longer life expectancy of at least five years than those that have poor mobility. (16)
Beyond mobility, exercise of course has an incredible impact on your overall health. Though the recommended amount of physical activity is 150 minutes per week, even just 15 minutes can add three years to your life, with your risk of premature death decreasing by 4% for every additional 15 minutes. (17)
Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym. There are many other activities, such as:
- Walking- Cycling
- Outdoor jogging
- Playing active games
- Playing sports
The best thing to do is try to incorporate more physical activity into your everyday life: take the stairs, get off the bus a stop or two early, go for a walk at lunch, or set a reminder on your phone to get up every hour and do a lap of the office or some stretches. The more you move now, the longer you will live later.
5. You Have a Good Sleep Pattern
So much healing happens in our bodies when we sleep, more than even scientists and doctors know. What we do know is that developing good sleeping habits, such as waking up and going to bed around the same time each day, is beneficial to our health and longevity. (18)
The number of hours you sleep is also important: studies show that those who sleep less than 5-7 hours a night have a 12% greater risk of premature death. (19) On the flip side, sleeping more than 8-9 hours a night regularly could shorten your life by 38%. (20)
The Bottom Line
There are so many factors that contribute to your overall health, which ultimately contribute to a longer life span. If you are already doing all five of these things, good for you! Keep going. If you’re not, it truly never is too late to make positive change. No matter what stage of life you’re in, if you start living healthier, you will see the benefits.
Keep Reading: The Healthiest People in the World May Not Go to the Gym
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