How To Live for a Long Time

Several lifestyle changes can potentially boost your chances of living longer.

Your choices can have an impact on how long you live. However, no guarantees can tell you how long your life will be. You can control some parts of your lifestyle habits, even if you can't control others, like genetics and chance.

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.

On average, people in the United States live 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.

live longer than friends spiritual
Getty Images

Longevity Habits To Try

Much research on long-lived people points to some essential habits and similarities that allowed them to achieve their longevity. Here are some findings that you might use to your benefit. The best part is they can improve your quality of life even as you strive to lengthen it.

Make Attempts To Reduce Stress

Reducing stress or developing practical coping skills to deal with it can help with longevity. Many people who have lived long lives cope with stress well.

In contrast, dealing with a lot of stress speeds up aging. For example, a 2021 study found that stress quickens biological aging, which is the aging of the body's tissues and cells. Another survey of 1,813 individuals who were 90 years old found that people lived longer when their bodies aged more slowly.

Other research has found that females with chronic stress have lower klotho levels. Klotho, named after the Greek goddess, is a hormone that promotes brain and body health and regulates aging. Some researchers state that low klotho levels increase the risk of developing diseases more quickly than others.

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

The National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health encourages people to learn the relaxation response to stress. Researchers have found increasing evidence that combining relaxation techniques and mindfulness can shortcut your stress response. They call it "press reset on stress," or the relaxation response.

The relaxation response entails slow, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness.

Learning how to create a relaxation response decreases:

  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Inflammatory hormones
  • Blood sugar
  • Stress hormones
  • Muscle tension

Some other ways you can lower stress:

  • Participate in activities you enjoy.
  • Keep a journal. It can help you pinpoint unhelpful thoughts and challenge them.
  • Keep in touch, and spend time with family members and friends who support you.
  • Exercise regularly, doing something you love.
  • Try meditation techniques.
  • Try deep breathing exercises.
  • Cultivate mindfulness techniques,
  • Practice yoga.

Socialize and Find Support

Being social and spending time with others can potentially increase your longevity. For example, in a study published in 2015 in Perspectives on Psychological Science, researchers concluded that feeling alone, even in individuals under 65, could lead to premature death.

Additionally, some evidence suggests that social isolation links to other health problems, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Cognitive decline

So, spending time with family or friends or finding ways to engage with others in your community, like taking exercise classes or joining support groups, can be worthwhile. Being social is not always easy, especially with people you don't know.

Some ways to make it easier might be:

  • Bringing a friend or family member to a new activity with you
  • Finding a class or a club based on shared interests like art, wildlife watching, golfing, gardening, etc.
  • Volunteering for a cause you're passionate about
  • Joining a support group

Make Changes to What You Eat

A seafood-rich diet supplies heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which might help lengthen your life. For example, a study published in 2013 in the Annals of Internal Medicine of more than 2,600 adults ages 69–79 found that people with high omega-3 fatty acids reduced their overall risk of death by 27%. Also, those people were 35% less likely to die from heart-related issues than others.

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

Also, consider your whole grains intake. Whole grains like wheat, barley, and rye deliver essential nutrients with life-lengthening benefits.

A 2015 study of more than 360,000 people showed that whole grains lowered the risk of death from the following:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory disease

Add Jogging (or an Alternative) to Your Exercise Routine

Running is an excellent source of exercise. However, jogging might be more beneficial than running when it comes to longevity.

The ideal amount of running a person should add for longevity is 60–144 minutes weekly, split into three jogs. Some evidence suggests that making that commitment is more effective than running for lengthier, more intense periods.

If jogging is strenuous on your joints, you might consider jogging on an elliptical machine or treadmill. The devices, usually found in your typical gym, can be more comfortable because it takes much of the impact off them.

Jogging's not for everyone, though. Exercise, in general, is good for health and longevity.

Some alternatives to consider include:

  • Walking
  • Dancing (including classes like Zumba)
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Aerobics classes

Add Weightlifting, Too

Lifting weights strengthens your body with lean muscle mass, which not only helps you look better but also live longer. In a study, published in 2014, of 3,659 adults, people with the leanest muscle mass were the least likely to die prematurely.

Building and maintaining as much muscle mass as possible over your lifetime is key. Muscle mass is an independent aging factor and one mainly in your control.

Research has found a combination of endurance exercises, like cardio, and resistance exercises, like weightlifting, is optimum for healthy aging, especially if you supplement with additional protein as you age.

Limit Drinking Alcohol

Averaging more than one and two alcoholic drinks per day for females and males, respectively, increases the risk of cancer, liver disease, and heart disease. In contrast, having just a little alcohol daily may extend your life.

For example, one study published in 2022 looked at data from more than 430,000 adults to determine the link between modest drinking and life expectancy. The researchers found that people who drank no more than one drink daily could gain almost one year of life compared to a loss of seven years for people who drank a lot.

Find Ways To Feel Fulfilled

Feeling that you and your life have a sense of purpose may help you live a long life. In fact, according to a study published in 2019, having a life purpose relates to lower mortality.

If you're looking to add a 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 health conditions. A lack of sleep links to chronic health conditions like depression and type 2 diabetes.

In contrast, sleeping too much can also be harmful. Research has connected poor sleeping patterns to increased death. All adults should get at least seven hours of sleep per night and aim for quality sleep.

Try some of the following tips to get a good night's sleep:

  • Get regular exercise, just not too close to bedtime.
  • Put yourself on a consistent sleep schedule, like going to bed and waking up at the same time.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment.
  • Remove distractions, like mobile devices, from your bedroom.

Choose Not To Smoke, or Quit Smoking

People who never got into the habit of smoking live about 10 years longer than people who smoke. If you currently smoke, quitting the habit before you reach middle age ups the possibility of living longer than those who never quit. 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 in living longer is eye health. Some evidence suggests taking care of your eyes might reduce your risk of premature death by 40%.

According to a study published in 2013 in Ophthalmology, the link between living longer and cataract surgery could be due to the following:

  • Better mobility
  • Improved physical and emotional well-being
  • Overall optimism
  • Greater confidence

Other Factors Tied to a Long Life

Still, more factors 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.


One major factor contributing to longevity is genetics. If your immediate family members lived well into their golden years, you also have a good chance of living longer. Siblings of people who have lived long lives are also highly likely to do so.

Also, people who live longer are less likely to experience health conditions, like heart disease or diabetes, at an earlier age.


Your physical environment can partly impact your longevity. 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. That said, many things out of your control can impact your environment. That can include financial status, race, geographical location, and access to high-quality healthcare.


Another factor that might play a role in how long you live is personality. Some studies have shown that personality traits are associated with lowered mortality risk. A 2017 analysis of studies found the following characteristics to be helpful:

  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness (a tendency to be self-disciplined, organized, and thoughtful)
  • Openness

However, of the key traits, the 2017 analysis found that some helped more than others. Extraversion and agreeableness seemed to have the most data backing their beneficial effect on lowered mortality.

If you're an introvert and not keen on people-pleasing (nor should you be!), don't despair. Not all researchers agree those traits are the most important for longevity. Researchers in a 2019 study, for instance, found that conscientiousness was the strongest predictor of longevity.

Marital Status

Research has found that a healthy marriage may help you live longer.

A 2020 study found that married people between the ages of 65 and 85 had a greater life expectancy than unmarried people.

The flip side is that a marriage that causes you much stress, the main culprit in premature aging and health damage, may not improve longevity. Marriage may also have fewer life-extending benefits for people of color. A 2019 study found that marriage reduced mortality over 25 years, but Black Americans saw less benefit over time than White Americans.

Spirituality or Religiousness

Researchers have found that people with some faith seem to live longer, although it's unclear how much or why.

A 2019 study examining religious service attendance found that those who attended at least once a week tended to live a few years longer. Researchers in a 2018 study interviewed 64 older people about their spiritual beliefs. They found that spirituality was a powerful tool that built resilience and helped people navigate adversity.

Spirituality and religiousness also may lengthen life for some people facing health issues. Research has found that healthcare providers believe being committed to a religion or being spiritual helps people achieve positive health outcomes, such as low blood pressure and decreased physical and mental health symptoms.

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. Also, you can improve your chances by strengthening social ties.

Was this page helpful?
31 Sources 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.
  1. National Library of Medicine. Is longevity determined by genetics?

  2. Harvanek ZM, Fogelman N, Xu K, et al. Psychological and biological resilience modulates the effects of stress on epigenetic agingTransl Psychiatry. 2021;11(1):601. doi:10.1038/s41398-021-01735-7

  3. Jain P, Binder AM, Chen B, et al. Analysis of epigenetic age acceleration and healthy longevity among older US womenJAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(7):e2223285. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.23285

  4. Prather AA, Epel ES, Arenander J, et al. Longevity factor klotho and chronic psychological stressTransl Psychiatry. 2015;5(6):e585. doi:10.1038/tp.2015.81

  5. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Stress.

  6. National Institutes of Health. What do we know about healthy aging?

  7. Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Baker M, et al. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic reviewPerspect Psychol Sci. 2015;10(2):227-237. doi:10.1177/1745691614568352

  8. National Institute of Aging. Loneliness and social isolation — tips for staying connected.

  9. Mozaffarian D, Lemaitre RN, King IB, et al. Plasma phospholipid long-chain ω-3 fatty acids and total and cause-specific mortality in older adults: a cohort studyAnn Intern Med. 2013;158(7):515-525. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-158-7-201304020-00003

  10. American Heart Association. Fish and omega-3 fatty acids.

  11. Huang T, Xu M, Lee A, et al. Consumption of whole grains and cereal fiber and total and cause-specific mortality: prospective analysis of 367,442 individualsBMC Med. 2015;13:59. doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0294-7

  12. Schnohr P, O'Keefe JH, Marott JL, et al. Dose of jogging and long-term mortality: the Copenhagen City Heart StudyJ Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;65(5):411-419. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2014.11.023

  13. Srikanthan P, Karlamangla AS. Muscle mass index as a predictor of longevity in older adultsAm J Med. 2014;127(6):547-553. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.02.007

  14. Strasser B, Volaklis K, Fuchs D, et al. Role of dietary protein and muscular fitness on longevity and agingAging Dis. 2018;9(1):119-132. doi:10.14336/AD.2017.0202

  15. Liu YT, Lee JH, Tsai MK, et al. The effects of modest drinking on life expectancy and mortality risks: a population-based cohort studySci Rep. 2022;12(1):7476. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-11427-x

  16. Alimujiang A, Wiensch A, Boss J, et al. Association between life purpose and mortality among US adults older than 50 yearsJAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(5):e194270. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.4270

  17. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Do you get enough sleep?

  18. Jean-Louis G, Grandner MA, Pandi-Perumal SR. Sleep health and longevity-considerations for personalizing existing recommendationsJAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(9):e2124387. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.24387

  19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Getting enough sleep?

  20. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco-related mortality.

  21. Jha P, Ramasundarahettige C, Landsman V, et al. 21st-century hazards of smoking and benefits of cessation in the United StatesN Engl J Med. 2013;368(4):341-350. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa1211128

  22. American Academy of Ophthalmology. People who undergo cataract surgery to correct visual impairment live longer.

  23. Fong CS, Mitchell P, Rochtchina E, et al. Correction of visual impairment by cataract surgery and improved survival in older persons: the Blue Mountains Eye Study cohortOphthalmology. 2013;120(9):1720-1727. doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2013.02.009

  24. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Social determinants of health.

  25. Graham EK, Rutsohn JP, Turiano NA, et al. Personality predicts mortality risk: An integrative data analysis of 15 international longitudinal studiesJ Res Pers. 2017;70:174-186. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2017.07.005

  26. Stephan Y, Sutin AR, Luchetti M, Terracciano A. Facets of conscientiousness and longevity: findings from the health and retirement studyJournal of Psychosomatic Research. 2019;116:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2018.11.002

  27. Jia H, Lubetkin EI. Life expectancy and active life expectancy by marital status among older U.S. adults: Results from the U.S. Medicare Health Outcome Survey (Hos)SSM Popul Health. 2020;12:100642.doi:10.1016/j.ssmph.2020.100642

  28. Assari S, Bazargan M. Being married increases life expectancy of White but not Black AmericansJ Family Reprod Health. 2019;13(3):132-140.

  29. Ofstedal MB, Chiu CT, Jagger C, Saito Y, Zimmer Z. Religion, life expectancy, and disability-free life expectancy among older women and men in the United StatesJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2019;74(8):e107-e118. doi:10.1093/geronb/gby098

  30. Manning L, Ferris M, Rosario CN, Prues M, Bouchard L. Spiritual resilience: Understanding the protection and promotion of well-being in the later lifeJ Relig Spiritual Aging. 2019;31(2):168-186. doi:10.1080/15528030.2018.1532859

  31. White MS, Addison CC, Jenkins BW. Beliefs and practices regarding spirituality as a healthcare strategyOJPM. 2022;12(03):59-72. doi:10.4236/ojpm.2022.123004

Related Articles