Secrets to living longer: The power of our daily habits
What if I told you that you could extend your life by 24 years simply by adopting a few key habits? Well, according to a groundbreaking study, it’s entirely possible. While we can’t control every aspect of our longevity, researchers have identified eight habits that, if incorporated into our daily lives, have the potential to significantly extend our lifespan.
1. Eat healthy for a vital life
It’s no secret that our diet plays a critical role in our overall health and well-being. This study shows that a balanced and nutritious diet can have a significant impact on our life expectancy. Make sure your meals include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks and excessive amounts of salt. A balanced diet not only increases your life expectancy, but also reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
2. Regular physical activity is the key
An active lifestyle is critical to living a longer, healthier life. Get regular exercise, whether it’s brisk walking, jogging, swimming, biking or another form of exercise you enjoy. Move at least 150 minutes a week at moderate intensity or 75 minutes at high intensity. Regular physical activity boosts your cardiovascular health, strengthens your immune system and improves your mental well-being.
3. Make good sleep a priority
Sleep is often underestimated, but it is essential for our bodies to regenerate and recover. Aim for 7–9 hours of quality sleep every night. Establish a set sleep schedule, create a relaxing sleep routine, and provide a sleep environment that is conducive to recovery. Adequate and restful sleep allows your body to regenerate, reduce stress, and improve cognitive function.
4. Effective stress management
Stress is an inevitable part of life, but the way we manage it can make a big difference. Chronic stress can have a negative impact on our health and life expectancy. Build stress reduction practices into your daily routine, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or time in nature. These practices can help lower cortisol levels, reduce inflammation and promote emotional well-being.
5. Stay connected with positive relationships
Strong and meaningful social relationships are critical to living a longer and happier life. Maintain regular social connections with family, friends, and community members. Positive relationships provide emotional support, reduce feelings of loneliness, and contribute to better mental health.
6. Avoid harmful substances
Habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol use, or substance abuse can significantly shorten life expectancy. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption can significantly improve your overall health and reduce your risk for life-threatening diseases. Get support if needed, as it can be difficult to break free of these habits.
7. Develop an optimistic attitude toward life
A positive attitude toward life can do wonders for your health. Cultivate gratitude, optimism, and a sense of purpose. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Research has shown that people with a positive outlook on life usually have better coping mechanisms, lower stress levels and stronger immune systems.
8. Regular check-ups and preventive measures
Taking a proactive approach to your health is essential to extending your lifespan. Get regular checkups from your primary care physician and take advantage of recommended preventive screenings. Early detection and treatment of health problems can significantly impact your overall well-being and increase your chances of living longer.
Living longer through healthy behaviors: the results of a comprehensive study
Between the years 2011 and 2019, a large study was conducted with people aged 40 to 99. Regrettably, more than 30,000 participants died during follow-up. The researchers used Cox proportional hazard regression models* to analyze all-cause mortality, and also used the multiple mortality table method to calculate life expectancy for men and women separately.
The results of the study are impressive: individuals who incorporated eight specific healthy habits into their lives had a 13% lower risk of dying from all causes than individuals who followed none of these habits. Of particular interest, men who adopted these eight habits by age 40 had an average life expectancy 24 years longer than those who did not. Women were found to have a 23-year increase in life expectancy if they incorporated these eight healthy habits into their daily lives before age 40.
Healthy habits for all stages of life: it’s never too late to start
There is always an opportunity to create positive habits, no matter what stage of life you are in. Even if you are not able to adopt all eight of the above habits, it can be beneficial to adopt just one or two of them. The researchers emphasize that even in advanced age, adopting such habits may result in a somewhat smaller increase in life expectancy, but still have a positive impact on health.
*Analysis of life expectancy: focus on Cox proportional hazard regression models
Cox proportional hazard regression models are statistical models used in survival analysis to examine the risk (hazard rate) of an event (e.g., death, disease, failure) occurring as a function of several independent variables.
These models were developed by David Cox and are particularly useful when analyzing the effects of multiple factors on the time to occurrence of an event. Cox regression analysis also accounts for censored data, meaning that there may be events that did not occur during the study period or events that occurred after the observation period.
In medicine, epidemiology, and clinical research, Cox proportional hazard regression models are commonly used to identify risk factors for specific events or diseases and to analyze the effects of different treatments or interventions on survival. These models help quantify and statistically evaluate the association between independent variables (e.g., lifestyle factors, medical treatments) and the occurrence of an event.
Disclaimer: The study suggests that these habits may have a positive impact on life expectancy, but individual results may vary. Always consult a physician before making any major lifestyle or health care changes.