Despite what you may think, the secret to living a long, vibrant life isn’t just about eating vegetables, taking supplements, moving your body, and not smoking. It’s about choosing, each and every day, to live life to the fullest.
Here are four ways to live 100 happy, healthy years:
Companionship is Key
Believe it or not, people who characterize themselves as socially connected tend to have lower blood pressure and stronger immunity. Plus, the more you plug in to your community of friends and family, the higher your cognitive performance. Not convinced? A study of over 300,000 people at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina showed that spending time with friends not only has health benefits, but it decreases your risk of an early death.
Improve Your Sleep Quality
A chronic lack of sleep could cut your life short. You’ve probably heard that we should all be getting eight hours of sleep every night, but lots of new research suggests adults live longer if they get six to eight, which is more realistic for many of us.
Getting adequate sleep is always important, but even more so as we age. When you reach your latter years, your body once again craves extra sleep to recharge. Rather than obsess over the sum of hours you’ve slept, focus on your “sleep quality”– how well you sleep. For example, instead of going to bed and sleeping only six out of eight hours while spending the rest tossing and turning, it’s more “efficient” to go to bed for six hours and actually sleep for those six hours.
Eat Smaller Portions
If you carry too much fat on your body, especially around your middle, you may be shortening your life. For health and longevity, it pays to be thin. I’m a huge believer in fueling your body with the healthiest, most natural foods available. I want you to eat foods that are the richest in nutrients. Research shows that eating 1,400 to 2,000 (healthy) calories per day seems to improve the functioning of your heart. Indeed, if you do this, your heart could perform at a level similar to that of when you were 15 years younger than you are today. A low-calorie diet, even in folks who aren’t obese, can also lead to changes in metabolism and body chemistry that have been linked to better health and longer life, researchers have reported.
Regardless of what diet you follow, try to eat 25 percent fewer calories than normal. The key is to listen to your body and recognize when it’s time to push the plate away. By following these guidelines, you will lose weight and your blood pressure will fall. Your heart will be healthier and you will live longer.
Change Your Attitude
Even if you won the genetic lottery and you’ve got the type of body that seems to never get sick, bounces back instantly after injury, and looks 25 years old even though you’re 50, you could still cut your life short just by having the wrong attitude. Now, I’m no psychologist and I don’t pretend to be one, but I know what I see in my own patients, in my own life, and in the medical journals. The folks with the most positive outlook on life are the ones who tend to be the healthiest and live the longest, and they’re the ones who tend to beat the odds when they do get sick.
Did you know research is showing a connection between a positive attitude and good physical health? In fact, University of Michigan researchers did a study in which participants rated their levels of optimism. They discovered that for every point of reported optimism, the subjects’ risk of having an acute stroke decreased by 9 percent. Furthermore, if you fall in the “glass half-full” category, you’re more apt to safeguard your health by being physically active and making smart health choices across the board.