While there’s no full-proof plan for how to live longer, there are several daily habits we can control. Here are the top seven to practice each and every day.
1. Keep Your Body and Mind Active
You probably already know physical exercise is a good idea. It burns calories and helps control weight, can improve mood and memory, combat the risk of health concerns like high blood pressure and heart disease, and help you feel better overall throughout your life.
Make your goal 60-90 minutes of moderate activity per day. You can even break it up throughout the day!
It’s not just about your body, though. Try to keep your mind active and challenged, no matter your age. Experts now believe that challenging your mind with new things and trying new activities may protect your thinking skills, according to Harvard Health.
Give your brain daily challenges like:
- Brushing your teeth or writing with your non-dominant hand.
- Listening to a new kind of music or taking a new route to work.
- Sitting in a different area of your home or favorite coffee shop.
- Learning a new skill, such as dancing, a sport, a new language, painting, knitting or planting a garden.
- Exploring a new city or going to a new restaurant or museum in your city.
- Volunteering with a local charity.
2. Invest Time in Important Relationships
Research from Dan Buettner on the Blue Zones—areas in the world with the longest-lived cultures—shows strong social relationships are associated with living longer.
Maintaining a rich social life can help prevent isolation and depression, both of which have been linked to cognitive decline later in life.
So, along with exercising your mind daily, nourish it with healthy relationships as much as you can!
Make a point to connect with parents, siblings, relatives or friends more often, or make new friends by getting involved in activities you enjoy.
3. Eat a Largely Plant-Based Diet
First and foremost, focus on plenty of colorful fruits and veggies—at least five servings per day, nine optimally.
If this seems like a lot at first, find creative ways to add them in:
- Add extra veggies to soups, salads, or main or side dishes.
- Add fruit to your cereal or oatmeal.
- Have some carrots, celery or bell pepper strips with hummus.
- Cut up fruit with all-natural peanut butter or unsweetened Greek yogurt.
Make sure you choose healthy options for carbohydrates, proteins and fats, too.
- Carbohydrates: Besides fruit and vegetables, whole grains like whole oats, quinoa, sprouted grain bread, brown rice, barley or bulgur.
- Proteins: Beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, and occasional lean cuts of meat. Avoid overcooked or charred meats, as they can contain carcinogens.
- Fats: Nuts and seeds, healthy oils like olive oil, and fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids like trout, salmon, mackerel, walnuts, and flax and chia seeds.
4. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough of All the Vitamins
Sometimes even a healthy diet can’t provide all the nutrition we need for optimal health and longevity.
Consider taking a daily multivitamin and make sure your nutrient levels are good, especially vitamin D and calcium—as they tend to be low in the average person.
5. Eat Mindfully
Most of us overeat, even if we’re eating healthy foods. This can lead to weight gain and increase your risk of illness.
Practice mindful eating to reduce mindless eating and learn to recognize when you’re full.
6. Take Care of Your Teeth
The health of your teeth might not be first on your mind for living longer, but they may play an important role in longer life expectancy, according to this study published in Periodontol 2000.
Use these Healthy Teeth Tips to keep your pearly whites in tip top shape, and see your dentist regularly.
7. Don’t Smoke
Quitting or not smoking in the first place is a fantastic way to support a longer, healthier life.
Smoking contributes to many diseases, including lung issues, heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis. Even current smokers who quit can drastically reduce their risks, and the earlier the better.
The Bottom Line
Use the above tips to form daily habits that support a healthy body and mind—and to encourage good health for many, many years to come.