5 Less Obvious Ways to Add Years to Your Life
September 28, 2017
Americans live to 79 years, on average. Everyone knows that to live to, or past, this age, you need to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight and stay away from cigarettes. However, there are some other less obvious ways to live longer and stronger.
Friends and Family
Humans are social beings. Sadly, the quality and quantity of social relationships in America is declining rapidly, and people are becoming more isolated. The number of people who live alone and have no close confidants has increased tremendously in the last two decades. It doesn’t help that most of us are facing an endless onslaught of work demands.
Numerous studies have found that strong social relationships can increase your survival rate by 50%. In fact, social relationships have a much greater impact on your longevity than exercising regularly or losing a couple of pounds.
Spending time with family and friends has as much impact on your longevity as quitting smoking (imagine the health benefits of quitting smoking AND spending more time with loved ones…).
It’s a shame that social relationships don’t get as much attention from physicians and the media as do other risk factors that affect longevity.
Sense of Purpose
It’s really hard to live long when your life lacks meaning and there’s nothing to drive you. That’s why people who have something to look forward to outlive their less fulfilled peers.
People with purpose-driven lives are less likely to experience disability, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke-related brain damage. There’s something about having a passion that keeps you going.
People who give their time to others are rewarded with better mental and physical health. Volunteers are not only more socially connected and less stressed, they also have lower blood pressure and better cholesterol profiles.
Volunteering isn’t just for the healthy. Studies show that people who suffer from chronic illness and pain experience a decline in pain intensity and disability when they start volunteering. The benefits of volunteering are far beyond what can be achieved through medical care. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
You’re probably wondering what your teeth have to do with living longer. Flossing isn’t just about getting rid of the food stuck between your teeth. It’s also about removing oral bacteria, which has been linked to cardiovascular disease.
Lack of flossing can lead to periodontal disease and inflammation, which in turn increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. So if you haven’t been flossing at least once a day, like the American Dental Association recommends, now is a good time to start.
Vegetarians live longer and better than meat eaters. They not only have a lower risk for chronic diseases, their risk of death is also 12% lower.
It’s less about the amount of protein and more about the source. High consumption of animal protein seems to increase the risk of death, whereas high consumption of plant protein reduces it.
Consider these less obvious choices for adding more years and vitality to your life. Which one could you see yourself making today?