As you look ahead, what do you envision? If you’re like most people, you are probably eager to stay healthy and enjoy your life in the most vibrant, vigorous way possible. No magic pill or secret potion can deliver a long, healthy life. To some extent, your genes are responsible however, abundant research shows that the actions you take today matter the most. Simple lifestyle choices — what you eat, how active you are, whether you smoke — have an enormous impact on your longevity and quality of life.
A 2007 study in the American Journal of Medicine focused on adults who adopted a healthier lifestyle during middle age. The researchers followed ~15,000 adults (ages 45+) for a decade and noted that 970(~9%) of these people embraced a healthier lifestyle by the sixth year of the study. These individuals ate five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables, worked out at least two and a half hours per week, didn’t smoke, and avoided obesity. Benefits appeared quickly. Just four years later, the group of individuals who made these four changes had a 40% lower rate of death for any reason and 35% fewer cases of heart disease compared with the participants who made fewer of these changes. No matter what your age or stage of life, you have the power to change many of the variables. Actions you can take to increase your odds of a longer and more satisfying life span are really quite simple:
- Don’t smoke.
- Enjoy physical and mental activities every day.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and substitute healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats for unhealthy saturated fats and Trans fats.
- Take a daily multivitamin, and be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D.
- Maintain a healthy weight and body shape.
- Challenge your mind. Keep learning and trying new activities.
- Build a strong social network.
- Follow preventive care and screening guidelines.
- Floss, brush, and see a dentist regularly.
- Ask your doctor if medication can help you control the potential long-term side effects of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis, or high cholesterol.