Who wouldn’t mind adding a few extra years to their lives, right?
Whether you want to be around for the grandkids or just want to live a full and long life, years added to your lifespan are definitely no cause for complaint!
While it’s impossible (at least right now!) to achieve immortality like Greek gods and Marvel’s superheroes/super villains, it is possible to lengthen your stay on this planet.
No, we’re not talking about the Fountain of Youth—that, unfortunately, is the stuff of myths and legends and the Pirates of the Caribbean!
We’re not talking about scientific procedures or going under the knife, either.
What we are talking about are small but lasting changes that could increase your longevity.
Sure, 25% of your lifespan is decided by genetics, but the remaining 75% rests in your hands, and you could make the most of it by introducing certain mindful habits to your lifestyle and routine.
Here are our favorite seven habits of longevity—follow these science-backed habits and that long, full life won’t be the stuff of distant dreams anymore!
7 Habits For A Longer, Fuller Life!
While we are slowly making advancements in public health, science, and medicine that could help the cause, these will take a while to be available commercially, and even then, they could cost a pretty penny.
Instead of sitting around twiddling your thumbs and waiting for public health to get to work, you could try these seven habits for a longer, fuller life!
1. Put on Those Running Shoes!
Whether you like to move it or not, moving it will go a long way in adding those years to your life.
Exercising regularly, in addition to making you stronger and fitter, can reduce the risk of age-related conditions such as stroke, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and even certain cancers.
Additionally, exercise has been shown to reverse cellular-level aging, leading to you looking younger and living longer—win-win!
But it isn’t really about how heavy you can lift at the gym or how many miles you can cover on the treadmill—it’s as simple as walking on your grocery run instead of taking the car.
Just 15 minutes of activity each day can add as much as three years to the life scale.
This is especially necessary for those who lead sedentary lifestyles, whether it’s because their desk job warrants it or they simply love their couches!
Ultimately, the point is to lead an active life, with activities such as walking, swimming, and even gardening, instead of holding an enviable gym record (of course, a 501-pound Bjornsson-like deadlift can make many folks happy, but unnecessary if your aim is an active lifestyle!).
2. Keep Calm And Carry On!
Especially in today’s day and age of rat races and the glorified fast life, it seems as though stress is inevitable.
Most of us have simply accepted it as the norm and continue to function in high-stress environments as a way of life, even though we know it’s harming us in the long run.
Stress can lead to a range of unwelcome visitors, such as diabetes, heart disease, depression and anxiety, obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure, and can take away over two years of your life.
In addition to this, it can even cause a loss in appetite, accelerated signs of aging, and other issues throughout the body.
Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of stress, unless you plan to pack up and head to the mountains for a quiet life (even then, we can’t guarantee that you’ll be 100% stress-free!).
What isn’t so impossible, though, is managing your stress levels and protecting your mental health.
Especially now, with mental health finally getting its due, there are various options available to help those who need it, from therapy to journaling.
3. Eat To Live But Live To Eat Too!
So much of your health and well-being depend on what food goes into your system.
Many people mistake this to mean ‘kale salads and green smoothies only’—while this is beneficial, eating a wide variety of foods, a healthy mix of what you love and what is good for you, works much better for longevity.
If they’re not already on the menu, healthy food such as fruits, fiber, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and whole foods should become staples, as they can keep heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and even certain cancers at bay.
Even a small change in your diet can substantially increase longevity!
But it isn’t only about what you eat—it’s about how you eat it.
Let’s look to some of the Mediterranean countries, such as Greece, for this.
Each meal is not only about eating that delicious moussaka and the accompanying small glass of red; it’s also about having at least one long, relaxed meal per day in the company of loved ones and friends.
At the end of the day, eat what you love, eat what is good for you, and eat happily.
So while you religiously ingest that good-for-health fruit or vegetable, don’t shy away from dessert either (in moderation, of course!), especially around friends and loved ones.
4. Have That Occasional Drink
Though many fitness gurus and health professionals villainize alcohol for a range of reasons, that occasional glass of wine could do you more good than harm.
A drink a day and two drinks a day for women and men, respectively, is perfectly alright, and may even reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease!
Needless to say, excessive drinking is the real culprit, leading to liver disease, cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure, along with shortening life expectancy by as much as two years.
However, all said and done, this isn’t an encouragement to start drinking if you don’t already—after all, there are still six other habits that can help you just as much, if not more!
5. Kick The Butt
The leading cause of preventable deaths in the US, causes diseases in nearly every organ, takes away as much as 10 years of your life—lots has been said about smoking, and fortunately or unfortunately, all of it is true.
Smokers have thrice the mortality rate that non-smokers do and thrice the risk of various diseases such as lung cancer, heart diseases, and stroke.
To make it worse, smokers are not just harming themselves—passive smoking can cause as much harm to those who don’t smoke.
It’s never too late to quit—you can always find other ways to celebrate that victory or de-stress from a hectic day. In fact, quitting before you hit 40 can reduce the possibility of death from smoking-instigated conditions by a whopping 90%.
6. Don’t Pull Those All-Nighters!
Insufficient and irregular sleep could disrupt your body’s functioning, leading to conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and inflammation, all of which—you guessed it—reduce longevity.
A good 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day not only feels good but is also a necessity!
Also see our comprehensive guide on getting a good night's sleep.
Don’t take this as an excuse to never get out of bed, though—oversleeping, like overexercising, has its own dangers.
7. The Pursuit Of Happiness
Lastly, cliche as it sounds (but cliche for valid reasons), be happy.
Do things that make you happy and keep you happy—stay connected with friends and family, have a social life, take that break when you need it, journal if you need to, meditate if it gives you peace, find your ‘ikigai’ or reason for being.
Being psychologically positive will definitely have a positive impact on your lifespan.
Habits For Longevity: The Takeaway
Growing older is inevitable, but dying before one’s time doesn’t have to be.
A healthy lifestyle can go a long way in prolonging the years, as can being happy and having a little fun—your habits shouldn’t seem like chores, because what’s the point of those extra years then?
If you’re someone who finds it difficult to form new habits, it helps to start forming these habits one by one. Instead of treating the above list as some sort of ‘to-do’ list, take it slow and think about the long run, instead of immediate gratification and results.
And remember—it’s okay to fail. As we’ve mentioned, these are habits, so they will take time to form, and you will have days where you end up staying in bed after foolishly downing all that Tito’s the previous night (we may speak from experience).
Start small but start, and years later, you’ll still be around to witness your loved ones raise a glass to your long, well-lived life!