After the challenges of the past year, it’s time to keep busy, stay active and take charge. Here are 21 tips on how to live a happier, healthier life.
1. Beware of Pain Pills
Regular use of painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen, including over-the-counter brands such as Advil, Motrin and Aleve can rise your risk of heart attack and stroke by 10 percent, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel review. Prescription-strength versions may increase your risk by 20 to 50 percent, even after just a few weeks of use. Reserve these drugs for severe pain, and use the lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time.
2. Get (or Stay) Hitched
Marriage truly is good for your health and your longevity. Love and companionship are huge benefits for one’s health and overall well-being. The prestigious Framingham Offspring Study that followed their participants for 10 years found married men had a 46% lower death rate compared to never been married men, even after all other risks for cardiovascular disease, like age, smoking, and diabetes, were factored out. In addition, the New York University’s Langone Medical Center study found married men and women had a 5 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Say Yes To That Extra Cup of Coffee
Coffee does more than just wake you up. It can reduce your risk of stroke, diabetes and some cancers. A 2015 study published in the journal Circulation, by Harvard researchers discovered that “people who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had a 15 percent lower [risk of premature] mortality compared to people who didn’t drink coffee,” says co-author Walter Willett, M.D. A standard cup of coffee is 8 ounces, so your 16-ounce Starbucks Grande is equivalent to two cups by that measure.
4. Go Green
If coffee’s not your thing, green tea also has longevity cred. Green tea contains powerful antioxidants known as catechins that have benefited diabetics and those with heart disease. In a large study of more than 40,000 Japanese men and women, drinking five or more cups of green tea a day was associated with a 12 percent decrease in mortality among men and a 23 percent decrease among women.
5. Eat Less
If you want to reach 100, put down the fork, says Dan Buettner, who studies longevity hot spots around the world, such as Okinawa, Japan. Buettner found that the oldest Okinawans stop eating when they feel 80 percent full. A National Institutes of Health study similarly found that cutting back calories reduced blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin resistance.
6. Drink Alcohol in Moderation
The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends if alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation. Moderation levels are stated as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Excessive alcohol use is associated with a number of serious health problems including: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems and some cancers. One way to cut your intake is to pour red wine into a white-wine glass, which is narrower. Studies by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab found that people poured 12 percent more into red-wine glasses. You’ll also pour less wine into your glass if it’s sitting on the table, instead of in your hand, says Brian Wansink, the Lab’s Director. Set some limits that include (1) the number of drinks you will have each week and keep a journal; (2) drinking only when you have also consumed food; (3) only drinking once the sun has gone down.
7. Pet Ownership Provides Benefits
Studies show pet ownership reduces anxiety, lowers blood pressure and can even improve the odds of the owner surviving a heart attack. A recent report by the American Heart Association recommends owning a dog. Dog owners are more likely to be physically active and are also less vulnerable to the effects of stress, the report says.
8. Live Life With Purpose
Those who live life with a real sense of purpose were 30 percent less likely to die during the 8.5-year study period. Whether it is helping your children or interacting in a community event or outing with like-minded folks, having a purpose that drives you correlated to seven extra years of life. Make sure you wake up looking forward to something.
9. Consider Mountain Life
A study by the University of Colorado and the Harvard School of Global Health revealed people residing at higher altitudes tend to live longer. The States of Colorado and Utah the U.S.A. rate highly. Researchers found lower oxygen levels can cause your body to adapt in ways that strengthen your heart and circulation.
10. Go Nuts
In a European study of adults aged 55 to 69, those who ate 10 grams of nuts daily (8 almonds or 6 cashews) reduced their risk of death from any health-related cause by 23 percent. A previous U.S. study found consuming a handful of nuts at least five times per week lowers the mortality risk for heart disease (by 29 percent), respiratory disease (24 percent) and cancer (11 percent). Nut spreads, (such as peanut butter) do not demonstrate the same benefits.
11. Get Social
Studies show that loneliness increases the risk of early death by 45 percent. It weakens the immune system and raises blood pressure while increasing the risk for heart attacks and stroke. Make contact and communicate regularly with your friends, your colleagues, family members and interest groups. In-person contact is best, however if that is not possible, connect via the cell phone, digital and many other online communication devices and platforms now available.
12. Build Your Immunity
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13. Try to Stay Out of The Hospital
A 2016 Johns Hopkins University study found that some 250,000 patients die each year in hospitals in the U.S.A. from medical mistakes alone, such as misdiagnoses, poor practices and conditions, and drug errors. Furthermore, latest figures show many people are avoiding going into hospital for routine procedures and surgery due to their fear of catching COVID while in a hospital. Reports out of the U.K. in May 2020 showed 10 to 20 percent of coronavirus cases were acquired while someone was in hospital being treated for something else.
14. Toss That Rug
One of the top risks for falls at home is rugs. Tripping on a rug sends 38,000 older adults to the emergency room each year. Banish these rugs from your home where possible and always make sure bath mats have a good non-slip bottom.
15. Make Peace With Family and Others
While we often stress about small things, it is the long-running forms of stress, such as a family dispute that can put your longevity at risk. Chronic stress hastens the cellular deterioration that leads to premature aging and a vast array of serious diseases, according to long-running research from the University of California, San Francisco. This sort of cell death “turns out to be one of the strongest predictors of early diseases of aging and in many studies of early mortality,” says lead researcher Elissa Epel. The remedy: Come to peace with the people in your life. Forgive your family, forgive yourself, put the past behind you so you can have a healthier, longer life and more peace of mind in front of you.
16. Don’t Use Your Cell Phone While Driving
Nearly one in five traffic accidents and more than 400,000 crash-related injuries involve a distracted driver according to reports by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The top distraction, according to a recent Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, is the cell phone and the second is using the touch screen on your car’s dashboard.
17. Drive Less In Your Senior Years
In 2014, more than 5,700 older adults were killed and more than 236,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes. Per mile traveled, fatal crashes increase noticeably starting at age 70 and are highest among drivers age 85 and older, a highway safety organization says. It’s important to be independent but if you’re feeling unsafe behind the wheel, it is time to look at and arrange alternative transportation methods.
What’s the best prescription for a longer life? Exercise. “There is no pill that comes close to what exercise can do,” says Claude Bouchard, director of the human genomics laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana. It benefits your brain, heart, skin, mood and metabolism. Even as little as 10 minutes of brisk walking can help (that’s all it takes to burn off the calories of one chocolate chip cookie). Once you can do 10 minutes, push it to 15 then 20. Start slow, but just start.
19. Take That Vacation
Not taking time off work can be deadly. One study of men at high risk for coronary artery disease found that those who failed to take annual vacations were 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack. And in the long-running Framingham Heart Study, women who vacationed just once every six years were eight times more likely to develop coronary artery disease or have a heart attack than women who vacationed twice a year.
20. Don’t Sweeten With Sugar
A high-sugar diet boosts blood sugar, which in turn plays havoc with your heart by increasing levels of LDL cholesterol while lowering heart-friendly HDL cholesterol, and can triple your risk for fatal cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar a day, and men no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams).
21. Consider Extra Vitamin D
Vitamin D, a bright byproduct of sunlight, has many health benefits, including a link to longevity. Just don’t overdo it. The Mayo Clinic recommends adults get at least the recommended dietary allowance of 600 IU. However, 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day of vitamin D from a supplement is noted as safe, and comes with a number of additional health benefits.
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