How To Live for a Long Time

There are a few things you can do that may help you live longer.

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The choices you make can have an impact on how long you live, but there are no guarantees or methods that can tell you how many calendars you'll buy.

Still, there are many simple benchmarks that can help predict if you'll live longer than most—or at least potentially add to your ability to do so.

Learn more about ways that could help you live longer, as well as other factors that might play a role in having a long life.

How To Live for a Long Time

Reduce Stress

Reducing stress, or at least having coping skills to deal with the stress, can be a factor in the length of a person's life. Coping well with stress has been one quality of individuals who have lived long lives.

Dealing with a lot of stress can also speed up how fast your body ages. Researchers found that stress was associated with faster biological aging (aging of the body's tissues and cells) for healthy adults aged 18 to 50. And another study found that participants lived longer when their bodies aged slower.

Additionally, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco discovered that women who are under chronic stress have lower levels of klotho. Klotho is a hormone that promotes brain and body health and regulates the aging process. Researchers believe low levels of klotho may be linked to an increased risk of developing a disease quicker.

Your best bet to ward off high levels of the hormone is to try to lower your stress levels. If do-it-yourself techniques like meditation or yoga aren't helping, you should consult a healthcare provider.

Socialize and Find Social Support

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

Researchers at Brigham Young University discovered that social isolation and loneliness can be as life-threatening as obesity. The study, published in 2015 in Perspectives on Psychological Science, indicated 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.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at more than 2,600 adults. Those who had the highest omega-3 blood levels reduced their overall risk of death by 27% and even had a 35% lesser chance of dying from heart-related issues.

"Aim to eat about 7 ounces of fish on a weekly basis for greater overall health," Chicago-based dietitian Jenny Westerkamp, RD, told Health. But if you can't make any changes in regard to seafood, consider your whole grain intake.

Whole grains like wheat, barley, and rye deliver essential nutrients that have life-lengthening benefits. A 2015 study with more than 360,000 participants, published in BMC Medicine revealed that higher consumption of whole grains was associated with a lower risk of death from conditions such as:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory diseases

Go Jogging as Part of 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 strive for when it comes to living a long life is 60 to 144 minutes weekly, split into three jogs, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 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.

"People overestimate how much time they need to devote to physical fitness in order to live a long, healthy life," Michael Seril, a National Strength and Conditioning Association and American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer based in Whittier, Calif., told Health.

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 University of California, Los Angeles study of 3,659 adults, people who had the most amount of lean muscle mass were the least likely to die prematurely.

"Working out doesn't stop when you get older," said Seril. "Staying in shape is a lifelong commitment and retaining muscle mass as you age will keep you alive a lot longer than people who skip the gym as they 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 risk of cancer, liver disease, and heart disease—but having just a little bit of booze each day may actually extend your life.

A study published in Scientific Reports 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 published in JAMA Network Open, a higher life purpose was related to low mortality among a group of almost 7,000 participants. Additionally, those with higher life purpose questionnaire scores had higher probability rates of survival.

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

  • Volunteering
  • Getting a pet
  • Starting a project

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

Get Enough Sleep

There are health benefits to getting enough sleep. 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 bad. 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, but they should also aim to get better sleep. Ways to get better sleep include actions such as:

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

Choose Not to Smoke

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

Because the risk of dying from smoke-related disease can decrease by 90% just by quitting before age 40, according to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Take Care of Your Eyes

One interesting factor that has been associated with living longer is eye health. According to research published in the journal American Academy of Ophthalmology, taking care of your eyes might reduce your risk of living for a shorter time by a whopping 40 percent.

Head researcher of the study, Jie Jin Wang, PhD, 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 That Can Be Associated With Long Life

There are also certain factors that might aid in how long you live as well beyond lifestyle.

Genetics

One major factor is genetics. If your immediate family members lived well into their golden years, you have a very 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 also 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 may be to 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 Journal of Research in Personality 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 being married reduced the risk of premature death in midlife. The study looked at 4,802 people and those that were married through their middle decade 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

For some individuals, spirituality and religiousness have been associated with a longer life. The researchers of an Open Journal of Preventive Medicine article said that being committed to a religion or religious behavior was related to a number of health outcomes such as lower blood pressure, decreased physical and mental health symptoms, and longevity.

A Quick Review

If you want to live as long of a life as possible, there are some lifestyle changes that you can make. These changes include choosing exercises like jogging or weightlifting, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and not smoking. There are also other factors, such as genetics or the environment, that may affect how long you live as well.

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Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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