Research suggests that the average life expectancy for the current generation of young people could fall for the first time in recorded history, while those who do have healthy lifestyles will continue to live longer and longer. One estimate says that there could be 1 million Americans over the age of 100 by the year 2050. Of course, there is no way to guarantee that you are going to be in that lucky group, but you can increase your chances by adopting a few everyday practices that promote longevity. Do not look for miracle solutions, though; most of these things involve everyday habits requiring real effort.
1. Physical activity
We all know that exercise is an important part of healthy living, but recent research makes things a little more complicated. Not only is it unhealthy not to exercise, but it is bad for the body to sit around for long periods of time. In other words, even if you do exercise vigorously at a regular basis, sitting around for long hours every day leads to increased risk of various longevity-threatening problems.
The key to taking advantage of this fact is to make sure you stay active and standing for large portions of your day. If you work at a desk, consider elevating your computer and standing during work. Also be sure to take frequent breaks to stretch out and walk a little. These activities can give you a health boost in addition to your regular exercise.
There has been a lot of hype over the last few years about the potential health benefits of antioxidants, and while some of the hype may go a little too far, there is no denying that a diet rich in antioxidants is beneficial. Antioxidants fight free radicals, the microscopic molecules that bounce around within cells and cause damage. This keeps the cells running smoothly for longer, which helps fight aging.
There are many natural sources of antioxidants, including things like berries, green tea, red wine, vegetable oils, dark chocolate, and all types of vegetables.
3. Restrict calories
There has been much made in the media over the so-called “calorie-restriction movement,” whose adherents seek to promote longevity by restricting their calories by up to a third of what is normal. There is actually some sound science backing up this effort, but no legitimate health expert would say that it is beneficial to consume less than 1500 calories a day just in the hopes of living longer.
In any event, it is a good idea to cut excess calories out of your diet. If you regularly consume unhealthy carbs and fats that offer no positive nutritional value, cut them out and stick with foods that carry a higher degree of benefit.
4. Keep learning
Never get out of the habit of learning new things. Whether you are 30 or 80, learning new skills helps boost your brain power, memory, and cognition, which reduces the effects of cognitive decline later in life. Make sure you always have a hobby that keeps you learning, and never stop reading books that teach you interesting new things. Hobbies that promote physical activity are doubly beneficial.
5. Sleep well
Aging well is all about giving the cells a chance to regenerate and stay healthy, and much of this work takes place during sleep. If you only allow yourself to sleep 4 to 6 hours per night, this will inevitably take a toll and cause you to age faster. Think of those extra hours of sleep as a long-term investment in yourself. Experts recommend that healthy adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, and while practical concerns may prevent us from reaching this number every night, it is something to strive for.
By Jamell Andrews