12 Proven Ways To Live a Long and Healthy Life
What if you could live an active, happy, healthy life to 100, would you want that? Many people would say, “No I don’t want to live that long.”
They say this because in their head they believe the myth that the older you get, the sicker you get. That is not necessarily so!
Others would love to live to 100 as long as they could stay active and healthy. I am one of these persons.
In fact, I am currently 72 years old. I’ve been healthy all my life. I play high level racquetball three days a week. I dance Salsa, and Argentine Tango on a weekly basis. I can pretty much do what I could do when I was 35, and I absolutely intend to live until I’m 100! Here’s a recent picture of me.
Is it because I have good genetics? That is partially the reason. My mother is 93 and is in relatively great shape. I also have aunts and grandparents who lived into their 90s, and some into their 100s.
According to current research however, genes account for only 25% of longevity. The rest comes down to simple health behaviors that you can control.
Today there are many people living healthy lives into their 90s and 100s. Dr. Thomas Perls, a geriatric specialist from Boston University says that “We all have a genetic blueprint that should let us live to 90 in great shape.”
Recently, there has been an extensive amount of research on those people they call “super-agers,” the people who live to be 100 plus years. What is their secret?
According to “Secrets to Living to 100”, Parade Magazine, 06/21/20, there are 11 ways to live longer and healthier based on the research from various longevity experts.
12 Ways To Live a Longer and Healthier Life:
Eat just enough less to maintain a healthy body weight. You can eat a variety of foods, but smaller portions.
One habit that I’ve had for a long time, is to serve my plate myself. I noticed, especially my mother, tends to serve me a big portion of food. (She’s a Mexican mother. Doesn’t that explain it?)
Since it’s already on my plate, I feel obligated to eat all of it so as not to waste any food. Unfortunately, that puts extra calories on my plate that I don’t need.
This is one of the factors learned from the study of the “Blue Zones.” The “Blue Zones” were identified by researcher, Dan Buettner. They are geographical regions that were found to have a higher percentage of people who live to 100 plus.
Five Blue Zones have been identified worldwide. One Blue Zone is Loma Linda, California. Another one is Okinawa, Japan.
People in these regions tend to eat home-cooked meals, with breakfast as the largest meal and dinner being the smallest.
They also practiced the 80% rule. They stop eating when they feel 80% full. Also, you must quit the snacking after dinner or before bedtime.
Consume Alcohol In Moderation
You can have one or two drinks per day according to Dr. Claudia Kawas from the University of California, Irvine. The best option is red wine because it contains antioxidants which help to reduce illness.
Maintain A Healthy Social Network
Surround yourself with healthy friends that will reinforce healthy behaviors. “If your three best friends are obese, there’s a 150 percent chance you will be also.”
Practice a Religion or Spirituality
People who practice a religion live longer. Researchers aren’t sure why, but it may be due to the social support and less depression.
It is essential that you get social stimulation from a wide social circle. You must be with other people besides your two family members. Loneliness increases the rate of depression which in turn increases the rate of death.
Form Social Connections
The more time you spend in social activities (book clubs, volunteering, hobbies), the lower the mortality risk. Social isolation is just as detrimental to longevity as smoking and obesity. I highly recommend dancing for making social connections. While dancing, you meet new people, you also have a tactile connection, you move your body, and you challenge your brain.
Have a Cheerful Attitude
In a longevity study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, centenarians tended to have an outgoing, easy-going, optimistic personality. At their ripe old age they still tended to be young kids at heart.
Stimulate Your Brain
You must continue to stimulate your brain. As the saying goes, “Either use it or lose it!” New research suggests that a person can create new neurons in the brain even into old age.
Practice brain-stretching activities such as Sudoku puzzles, Chess, reading, writing, knitting etc. Learn new things.
According to the aging experts, lifelong movement is essential to longevity and good health. Forty-five minutes of walking, climbing stairs, or light weight training is very beneficial.
The best option, according to the findings of the Blue Zones, is to build exercise into your daily life. People in the Blue Zones don’t exercise by going to the gym. Instead, it is built into their everyday lives through gardening, walking, cooking, and other daily chores.
Exercise reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease and improves overall health. Moreover, vigorous activity lead to a lower risk of death than moderate activity.
Once again, I recommend dancing, especially Argentine Tango as an alternate form of exercise. It’s a dance/exercise that you can do up to old age. As my instructor says, “If you can walk, you can Tango!” You may be interested to read my other article titled, “How Tango Can Improve Your Life and Keep You Healthy.”
Have a Life Purpose
Retirement does not mean the end of your productive life. Having a life purpose is having a reason to live. It’s a reason to get up in the morning.
When I retired from my job, I found myself like a fish out of water. I had to create new goals, find activities that engaged my body and my mind, thus one of the reasons I created this blog. I needed new challenges.
Once I figured out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I felt much better about myself. My self-esteem improved. A lack of purpose increases the risk of death!
Eat a Mostly Plant-Based Diet
According to Beuttner, focus on eating protein but not very much red meat. Eat healthy fats and complex carbs. The dietary foundation of the Blue Zones were these five foods: whole grains, greens, tubers, nuts, and beans. He says, “One cup of beans a day adds three to four years of life expectancy.”
Get Enough Sleep
Seven hours of sleep is optimal. Sleeping less or a lot more was associated with increased risk of death according to 35 studies. Short naps during the day of not more than 30 minutes are also beneficial.
Follow the above guidelines as suggested by the top geriatric researchers and it is likely that you could live to 100 with vitality, a zest for life, and great health. It’s never too late to start preparing for your later years.
One old fellow was asked if he had any regrets. The old man said “Yes, just one. If I would have known that I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
If you got value from this post, please share it with your social media network. I also enjoy reading your comments below.
To your health,
David C Figueroa- Success Coach
“How To Live to 100+”, Parade Magazine, June 21, 2020
“Why People in “Blue Zones” Live Longer That the Rest of the World”- by Ruairi Robertson, PhD, Healthline, 8/29/2017
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