How To Live for a Long Time

There are several things you can do to boost your chances of living longer.

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Your choices can impact how long you live, but no guarantees can tell you how many calendars you'll buy. After all, you can control some things, like your choices and lifestyle, even if you can't control others, like genetics and chance.

The good news is that genetics is only 25% of the equation (and it may work in your favor if your family members are long-lived.) The rest boils down to your environment, lifestyle choices, and a bit of chance.

And, on the main, Americans are living to around 80 thanks to a much higher standard of living and better access to medical care than in decades and centuries past.

Here are some ways you can up your chances of living longer, backed by research.

Longevity Habits To Try

There's a lot of research on long-lived people pointing to some key habits and similarities that allowed them to achieve their longevity. Here are some findings you can use to your benefit. The best part is they can improve your quality of life even as you strive to lengthen it.

Reduce Stress

You can up your chances of long life (not to mention your quality of life!) by reducing stress or developing effective coping skills to deal with it. Many individuals who have lived long lives cope with stress well.

Dealing with a lot of stress speeds up aging. Researchers in a 2021 study found that stress was associated with faster biological aging (aging of the body's tissues and cells) in 444 healthy adults aged 18 to 50. And another study of 1,813 women aged (or about to age) 90 found that participants lived longer when their bodies aged more slowly.

Additionally, researchers in a 2015 study found that women under chronic stress have lower levels of klotho. Klotho is a hormone that promotes brain and body health and regulates aging. (It's named after the Greek Goddess of the same name, responsible for determining mortal fates).

Researchers believe low levels of klotho may be linked to an increased risk of developing diseases more quickly.

Your best bet to ward off high hormone levels is to try to lower your stress levels. If do-it-yourself techniques like meditation or yoga don't help, try talking with your healthcare professional.

Socialize and Find Social Support

Being social and spending time with others can potentially increase your longevity.

Researchers of a 2015 study discovered that social isolation and loneliness could be as life-threatening as obesity. The researchers concluded that feelings of being alone impact people of all ages and can be a precursor to premature death—even in individuals under 65.

Additionally, social isolation has been associated with other health problems, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Cognitive decline

So, it might be worth spending time with family or friends or finding ways to engage with others in your community, like taking exercise classes or joining support groups.

Make Some Changes to What You Eat

A seafood-rich diet supplies you with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which might help lengthen your life.

Researchers conducting a study of more than 2,600 adults ages 69-79 found that those with higher levels of omega-3s reduced their overall risk of death by 27% and were 35% less likely to die from heart-related issues.

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, or tuna per week.

Also, consider your whole grain intake. That's because whole grains like wheat, barley, and rye deliver essential nutrients with life-lengthening benefits. A 2015 study with more than 360,000 participants showed that higher consumption of whole grains was associated with a lower risk of death from conditions such as:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory diseases

Add Jogging to Your Exercise Routine

Though running is a great source of exercise, jogging might be more beneficial when it comes to living longer.

The ideal amount of running a person should add for longevity is 60 to 144 minutes weekly, split into three jogs, according to a 2015 study. The 12-year study tracked 1,098 healthy people and found that making this simple commitment was more effective than running for lengthier, more intense periods.

Add Weightlifting, Too

Go ahead and flex those muscles! Lifting weights strengthens your body with lean muscle mass, which not only helps you look better but also live longer. In a 2014 study of 3,659 adults, people with the most lean muscle mass were the least likely to die prematurely.

It's essential to build and maintain as much muscle mass as possible over your lifetime. It's an independent aging factor and one mainly in your control.

A 2018 study found that a combination of endurance (cardio) exercise and resistance (weightlifting) exercise was optimum for healthy aging, especially if you supplement with additional protein as you age.

Limit Any Drinking

Averaging more than one alcoholic drink a day for people assigned female at birth and two for people assigned male at birth increases the risk of cancer, liver disease, and heart disease—but having just a little bit of booze each day may extend your life.

Researchers of a 2022 study looked at data from more than 430,000 adults to determine the link between modest drinking and life expectancy. The researchers found that participants who drank no more than one drink daily had the potential to gain almost one year of life—compared to a loss of seven years for participants who drank more.

Find Ways to Give Your Life Purpose

Feeling that you and your life have a sense of purpose may help you live a long life.

According to research in a study of almost 7,000 participants, having a higher life purpose was related to lower mortality. Additionally, those with higher life purpose questionnaire scores had higher probability rates of survival.

If you're looking to add a more heightened sense of purpose in your life, you might try doing things such as:

  • Volunteering
  • Getting a pet
  • Starting a project
  • Supporting a cause close to your heart

Ultimately, the goal is to try and find something special that makes you feel like you're making a difference.

Get Enough Sleep

There are health benefits to getting enough sleep, and one of them is avoiding chronic conditions. For example, a lack of sleep is associated with chronic conditions such as depression and type 2 diabetes.

However, sleeping too much can also be harmful. Sleeping too much or not enough have both been connected to increased death.All adults should get at least seven hours of sleep per night and aim to get better sleep.

Here are some quick tips for better shuteye:

  • Get regular exercise (but not too close to bedtime)
  • Put yourself on a consistent sleep schedule (i.e., go to bed each night and wake up each day at the same time)
  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment
  • Remove distractions (e.g., mobile devices) from your bedroom.

Choose Not to Smoke (or Quit)

People who never got into the habit of smoking live about 10 years longer than their tobacco-using counterparts. If you are or were smoking, quitting before you reach middle age ups the possibility of living longer than those who never quit. Why?

Because the risk of dying from smoking-related disease can decrease by 90% just by quitting before age 40.

Take Care of Your Eyes

One interesting factor associated with living longer is eye health. In fact, taking care of your eyes might reduce your risk of premature death by a whopping 40 percent, according to one study.

Jie Jin Wang, Ph.D., head researcher of the study, believed that the link between living longer and cataract surgery was likely attributed to:

  • Better mobility
  • Improved physical and emotional well-being
  • Overall optimism
  • Greater confidence living after besting visual impairment

Other Factors Tied To Long Life

There are still more factors that might aid in how long you live, and they go beyond lifestyle. Read on to see what you can't change and what you might be able to change.

Genetics

One major factor is genetics. If your immediate family members lived well into their golden years, you have a good chance of living longer too. Siblings—as well as children—of individuals who have lived long lives have a higher possibility of doing so.
Also, people who live longer are less likely to experience health conditions (like heart disease or diabetes) at an earlier age.

Environment

Your physical environment can be partly responsible for long life. Environmental factors may include:

  • Housing and living conditions
  • Exposure to infectious diseases
  • Food availability
  • Water cleanliness
  • Medical care access

Essentially, the better your physical environment is, the more likely you will experience a longer life.

Personality

Another factor that might play a role in how long you live is personality. People who live longer tend to have the same personality traits in common: They're conscientious, extraverted, and agreeable, according to a 2015 literature analysis.

In other words, those who are responsible, organized, sociable, and can get along with others tend to live longer.

Marital Status

Getting married has been associated with long life.

Research has revealed that marriage reduces the risk of premature death in midlife. The study looked at 4,802 people and found that those married through their middle decades were less likely to have an untimely demise.

Researchers surmised that the act of having a partner to lean on and work with through any challenges faced in midlife made that era of life much easier to deal with.

Spirituality or Religiousness

Spirituality and religiousness are associated with longer life for some individuals facing health issues.

The researchers of a 2022 study found that medical staff, including doctors, believe being committed to a religion or spirituality helped their patients achieve positive health outcomes, such as lower blood pressure, decreased physical and mental health symptoms, and longer life.

A Quick Review

The good news is that a longer, healthier life is at least partly in your control.

If you want to live as long as you can as well as you can, you can up your chances by making lifestyle changes like jogging and weightlifting, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and not smoking. Other factors, such as genetics, can work in your favor if your immediate family is long-lived. And you can also improve your chances by improving your environment and strengthening social ties.

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