As Abraham Lincoln once said, “It’s not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years.” While we agree with Abe, we’re wondering why we can’t have both. With improved medicine and better education about how to care for ourselves, we’re living longer nowadays and healthier too. But there are plenty of little things you can do every day to supercharge your longevity.
1. Step away from the remote.
Face it. You know the more time you spend on Netflix, binging on marathon TV sessions, the less likely you are to pull yourself away and make time for the gym. But here’s some scary news. An Australian study of 8,800 adults with no history of heart disease found a correlation between the amount of time spent sitting in front of the TV and your risk of premature death and heart disease. Participants who watched four or more hours of TV per day were nearly 50 percent more likely to die from any cause than those who limited their TV consumption to under two hours.
Still not convinced? Researchers calculated that each additional hour of TV watched means you’re 11 percent more likely to die from any cause. No TV show is worth that risk. Not even “Dancing With The Stars.”
2. Eat a handful of nuts every day.
In recent years we’ve heard all about the benefits of omega-3s and their heart-health goodness. But if you can’t stomach those fishy-smelling capsules, try adding nuts to your daily diet.
In a 30-year study, Harvard researchers found that people who ate nuts every day were 20 percent less likely to die from any cause during the study, than those who didn’t. The more frequently people ate nuts, the lower their risk of death was.
Experts point to nuts’ cholesterol-balancing qualities as the reason they’re so darn good for your life expectancy. So try adding some walnuts to your morning oatmeal or chopped almonds to your salad for a longer, healthier life.
3. Ease up on the red meat.
It’s alright to enjoy the occasional steak or treat yourself at your favorite burger joint — just don’t overdo it. One study found that women and men who were initially healthy became more likely to develop heart disease and cancer if they regularly indulged in red meat. A daily serving of red meat upped the likelihood of death by 13 percent while processed meat upped the chances by 20 percent. Processed meats, like hot dogs and lunch meats, have frequently been linked to cancer and heart disease.
But the good news is, swapping out red meats with other proteins like fish, chicken, and even dairy products can lower your mortality risk.
4. Go for a jog.
We know the immediate benefits of exercise — the post-workout endorphin release, a clearer mind, and lower blood pressure just to name a few. But do many of us think of the longterm benefits other than what exercise can do for our waistlines?
Here’s some good news for the runners out there and some motivation for the rest of us. Danish researchers believe without a doubt that jogging is key to extending your life. “We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity,” researcher Peter Schnohr said in a release. “The good news is that you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits.”
Schnohr’s study found that jogging can increase life expectancy in men by over six years for men and over five years for women when they jogged just one to two and a half hours total per week. That’s enough to get us moving.
5. Find your Zen.
We’re all about mindfulness and its stress-busting, brain-protecting, whole-body goodness here at The Huffington Post.
So we were really thrilled to find out that mindfulness can help you live a longer, healthier life. A study at University of California-Davis found people who regularly practice meditation have higher levels of telomerase. That’s the enzyme responsible for lengthening the telomeres at the ends of your chromosomes, which affect aging.
Similarly, another study found that cancer patients who combined meditation with other healthy lifestyle changes over several years were able to lengthen their telomeres.
Besides, meditation is an excellent way to manage stress and your blood pressure, which can in turn protect you from a number of diseases.