Science says we have been searching for the fountain of youth in all the wrong places. It turns out that the key to longevity may be found in the following habits that may not only help you live longer but live well too.
1. Adopting a Mediterranean diet
A Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating lots of vegetables, fruit, fish, nuts, and whole grains without a lot of red meat or processed foods. These foods are rich in antioxidants that help fight aging caused by stress and pollution and inflammation that could lead to disease.
Studies show that the areas along the Mediterranean coast have populations with the longest lifespans as a result of this diet.
A study by Kate Walters, PhD and Gotaro Kojima, MD, from the University College London showed that a Mediterranean diet “helped people keep muscle strength, weight, as well as activity and energy levels.”
2. Taking charge of your mind
Your mind dictates your outlook and your actions. It has a negative default because its primary job is to keep you safe. Anything that takes you out of your comfort zone is considered to be unsafe.
If you don’t take charge of your mind your outlook more often than not, has a negative slant. This wears on your spirit and taxes you physically compromising your immune system making you susceptible to disease and infection. If on the other hand, you do take charge of your mind, you develop a positive attitude and an optimistic approach to life which has been shown to lengthen your life.
A 30-year study done by the Mayo Clinic found that the risk of early death is 50 percent lower in optimists than in pessimists.
3. Regular physical activity
The level of your midlife physical fitness is related to the level of health you display later in life says a 2012 study in Archives of Internal Medicine.
Says Jeremy Walston, MD, a professor of geriatric medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “People who remain active throughout their life span, whether that’s running, walking, or riding bikes, live longer.”
According to a study by the National Cancer Institute, “Leisure-time physical activity is associated with longer life expectancy, even at relatively low levels of activity and regardless of body weight.” Their study, published in PLoS Medicine, found that “people who engaged in leisure-time physical activity had life expectancy gains of as much as 4.5 years.”
4. Getting quality zzzzzz’s
Longevity is associated with regular sleep patterns says a study reported by the National Institutes of Health. Professor Matthew Walker, Director of University of California Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, says that “lack of sleep causes damage to certain parts of the brain and affects learning and memory.”
It’s not just nighttime sleep that helps but also naps. A study conducted by Harvard researchers found that those who regularly took a 30-minute siesta had a 37 percent lower chance of dying from heart disease than did those who stayed awake all day.
According to Psych Central, “Past research has shown that individuals with supportive and rewarding relationships have better mental health, higher levels of subjective well-being, and lower rates of morbidity and mortality.”
Studies conducted by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University in Utah found that “people with strong social relationships increased their odds of survival over a certain time period by 50 percent.”
The right social connections help has deal positively with stressors, encourage healthy habits and provide meaning to our lives among other benefits. If your not a fan of people though, studies show that owning a pet also helps lower stress, blood pressure, and cardiovascular risk.
6. Keeping your brain active
Your body is not the only thing that needs to be kept active if you wish to live longer and live well. Your brain must remain active too.
A New England Journal of Medicine study showed that elderly people are less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s if they keep their brains active by reading, playing mental games such as puzzles and board games, or musical instruments.
7. Practicing Mindfulness
A study published in The American Journal of Cardiology found that participants in Transcendental Meditation (TM) were twenty-three percent less likely to die of any cause after an average of 7.6 years post-TM and thirty percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease during the same period. Subjects were also 49 percent less likely to die of cancer during the follow-up period.
A habit of mindfulness which is practiced through meditation helps to manage and even reduce stress. It also promotes relaxation and boosts memory, concentration, and mood. It has also been proven to bolster the immune system.
8. Having a higher purpose.
A study conducted by Harvard researchers shows that when you have a higher purpose, you are more likely to live longer as you are more interested in staying healthy and physically strong so that you can fulfill their purpose.
9. Getting screened regularly
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that “regular screenings can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better.”