9 Habits Linked to a Long, Happy Life

Living life to the fullest begins with paying attention to your body and mind.

“The long-term effects of good and bad health habits are cumulative. Simply put, you can’t outrun your past,” said Dr. William Roberts said via email. .

CNN medical analyst Dr. Getting enough physical activity and seeing your doctor regularly is a good place to start, Lena Wein said.

“There’s a lot of evidence about things we can do proactively that can improve our longevity and quality of life,” said Wayne, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. .

Here are some habits worth implementing to give yourself the best chance at a long, happy life.

1. Routine screening

Young people have fewer chronic diseases than older people, but prevention is key, Wayne said. “If you screen positive for pre-diabetes, for example, there are steps you can take to prevent progression to diabetes.”

Annual checkups enable you and your doctor to get to know each other, he added. “The best time to see your doctor is if you already have symptoms and need help—on a regular basis to build and establish a relationship so your doctor can get basic information about your health.”

2. Regular physical activity

Getting enough physical activity can reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, Wayne said.

Dr. Atria New York City Medical Director and New York University Grossman Assistant Professor of Medicine. “There is a large body of research that supports regular aerobic exercise not only for longer survival, but also for longer cognitive function,” said Nia Goldberg. School of Medicine.

The World Health Organization recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate to vigorous physical activity, while pregnant people should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic and vigorous physical activity per week.

3. A healthy BMI

Body mass index is a measure of body fat that assesses a person’s weight class and potential risk of health problems, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Maintaining a healthy BMI can extend your life by more than a decade, a 2018 study found, and is linked to a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer. Regular physical activity and healthy eating can help achieve this goal.

4. Proper nutrition

Eating more plant-based foods is a great source of antioxidants, Goldberg said. “Oxidation is a sign of stress in our system and can change the build-up of plaque in the arteries,” she said. “And this oxidation is also associated with aging.”

The future of nutrition advice
According to a study published in February in the journal PLOS Medicine, you can prolong your life by eating less red and processed meat and more fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts. The potential benefits are especially strong if you start young — women who start eating well in their 20s can add a little over 10 years to life, while men who start at the same age can add 13 years.

At mealtimes, at least half of the plate should be fruits and vegetables, Goldberg said. Also, what’s important is “not just what’s in the food, but how you prepare it,” he added. “So baking and broiling is better than frying.”

5. Focus on mental health

Mental health is often “such a neglected part of our overall health, but actually contributes so much to overall health and well-being,” Wayne said.

The past few years have brought on stress and anxiety, which can affect blood pressure, sleep, diet choices, alcohol consumption or efforts to quit smoking, Goldberg said.

Get plenty of sleep, eat healthy and exercise as part of your routine.  What is missing?
Just 15 minutes of carving out some mental health hygiene can make your life easier, experts say. Try deep breathing when you wake up, be present with your morning coffee instead of being distracted, go for a walk, journal and take a break from the screen.
The benefits of these mindfulness practices come from lowering levels of cortisol, a stress hormone linked to health complications. Being able to better regulate your emotions—which can be achieved through meditation—is associated with health resilience in old age.

6. Get plenty of sleep

People who sleep less than seven hours a night have higher levels of stress hormones, blood sugar and blood pressure, Goldberg said.

You can improve the quality and quantity of your sleep by exercising regularly and practicing good sleep hygiene. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool at night, and use it only for sleep and sex.

7. Drink less

“For a long time, people have associated alcohol with a healthy heart,” Goldberg said. But “heavy alcohol consumption can actually be toxic directly to the heart muscle and cause heart attacks. And it also raises (blood sugar) and causes weight gain.”

Quitting heavy drinking can add at least several years to your life by reducing your risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases, a 2020 study found.

8. Non smoking

“Smoking is a major risk factor that increases the likelihood of many cancers — not just lung cancer but also things like breast cancer,” Wayne said. It also “increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and other conditions that shorten people’s lives.”

If you’re a smoker, it’s not too late to quit to prolong your life, Wayne added.

6 steps you can take to quit smoking and live a healthier life

9. Build strong relationships

Close, positive relationships add happiness and comfort to our lives and reduce stress, experts say. According to Harvard Health, studies show that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and community have fewer health problems, live longer and experience less depression and cognitive decline later in life.

If implementing all of these habits seems like a lot, think of them as building blocks, Wayne said. “We may not always be perfect at everything,” she said, “but (there are) things we can improve on in one or more dimensions, and we can commit to improving that kind of lifestyle.”

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