5 Major Secrets to Living Longer, Say Experts
Most of us would like to live as long as possible. But longevity might seem mysterious or out of our hands. In reality, experts have found there are simple, science-backed things you can do that may help you live longer, even if you're already in the golden years. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
Stay Connected to Others
What to cut your risk of several age-related disease, including dementia? Maintain active social connections. "Social isolation and loneliness have negative health impacts on par with obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and are associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia," says Scott Kaiser, MD, a board-certified geriatrician at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Scientists aren't sure why. Loneliness may cause chronic inflammation as part of the body's stress response, damaging the brain.
Work Out This Much
The data are pretty clear and consistent: Regular exercise is a life-extending activity. One study found that adults who meet or exceed the World Health Organization's recommendation to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week can add about five years to their lives. And a 2019 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that exercising for just ten minutes a week is enough to increase your lifespan. New research published this month found that people who take 7,000 to 9,000 steps a day—or 30 to 45 minutes of exercise most days—reduce their chance of premature death by up to 70%.
Having a positive view of aging is associated with living longer and living better. According to one study done by Yale psychology professor Becca Levy, a leading researcher in the psychology of aging, people who had positive self-perceptions about growing older lived 7.5 years longer and had lower rates of Alzheimer's disease better than people with more negative views.
Get Better Sleep
Good sleep isn't just something that happens if you're lucky. It's key to staying healthy. The quantity and quality of sleep has wide-ranging effects on everything from the heart and brain to the immune system. Experts agree that not getting enough quality sleep—that's seven to nine hours each night—can increase your chances of potentially life-shortening illnesses like cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and dementia.
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In a study published in the journal BMJ Open in 2020, Finnish researchers found that being under heavy stress shortened men's lives 2.8 years and women's 2.3 years. "Having some stress, but no more than what is usual, was associated with lower hazard [of premature death] than when feeling life almost unbearable," the scientists noted. Stress seems to cause an inflammatory response in the body, which may increase the risk of heart disease and cancer and even shrink the brain. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.