Do you feel motivated to try to live longer and feel better overall? Join the club! We all have different reasons as to why we want to live longer and have a better quality of life. Maybe we want to watch our grandchildren grow up or be able to cross off everything on our bucket list. Climb Mount Everest? Check! Travel to all seven continents? Check!
However, regardless of why you want to live longer and feel better, we all have obstacles to living our best (and longest life). While no one has the guarantee of tomorrow, nowadays we all have to plan for living into our 100s. In this article, we will lay out 10 tips on how to live longer and feel better. As you will see, living better and living longer is a multifaceted approach. Also, while you may be focused on how long you can live in the future, make sure you enjoy the ride every day (including today).
1. Get Regular Check Ups
When was the last time you had a medical check-up? If you can’t remember, then it is time to go. Regular doctor’s visits can help you prevent problems or find them early on. Even if you are young or “feel fine,” there are plenty of silent killer diseases out there that go unnoticed if you never go in to see your doctor. Put your best foot forward knowing you have done your annual check-up.
2. Know Your Risk Factors
You can’t pick your family, and you can’t pick what genes you are given. Some of us may have a family history of diabetes or hypertension. On the other hand, some of us may be more likely to develop mental health disorders than other people without a family history. If you grew up around smokers (and/or you smoke yourself) you may be at greater risk of disease. We all have our own unique cocktail of risk factors for physical, behavioral and mental health, so make sure you talk to your doctor about how your risk factors will affect your overall health and longevity.
3. Drink Enough Water
Water is essential to life and overall health. When we don’t drink enough water, we put ourselves at risk of dehydration, kidney damage, headaches and altered lab values to name a few. While it is essential to hydrate before, during and after physical activity, proper hydration is important during all parts of your day. To learn more about how to hydrate right, click here.
4. Get Enough Exercise
Most of us know exercise is important for living healthy, but it’s hard to motivate ourselves to get out of our seats at work and at home. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), adults should get at least 150 minutes of cardio exercise per week and 300 minutes per week if you want to lose weight (1). If you are looking for a compact, all-in-one cardio machine, then click here. For tips on cardio workouts to do at home, check out this roundup of the best at-home cardio exercises from fitness experts.
Also, the AHA recommends that adults get at least two strength training workouts per week. It’s time to make physical activity a habit that you can’t live without!
5. Get Enough Sleep
How much sleep are you getting? According to the CDC, adults should get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep per night (depending on your age). If you find yourself waking up several times during the night, suffer from sleep apnea or simply don’t feel rested after a full night’s sleep, then your sleep quality may be impacted. For better sleep, try this great sleep mask.
6. Listen to Your Body
It is no surprise that our bodies change over the years. What we could physically do in our teens and 20s can seem like a distant memory when we get older. Even though physical activity is essential throughout your entire life, make sure you talk to your healthcare team and physical therapist to understand how to exercise for your age, body, and health conditions. Alert: If something truly hurts, then chances are something is wrong! It’s also important to listen to your body for signs that something is amiss nutritionally. For example, you may need a bit of a vitamin or mineral boost, which a daily multivitamin may be able to help to address. Remember, if in doubt, talk to a healthcare professional.
7. Listen to Your Gut
If you are looking to live longer, then listen to your gut instincts when going into potentially dangerous situations. In your teens, you may not have thought twice about speeding down a gravel country road, but you know better now (hopefully!). Or, remember when you and your friends used to cliff dive by the local river? Eek! Just pay attention to the pit in your stomach, it can save your life!
8. Listen to Your Mind
We are lucky to live in a time when mental health is getting more and more attention as being a pillar of overall health. Conditions like depression can decrease quality of life and lead to isolation, which can affect how long you live (see Tip #10 for more information). Also, suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, so understanding your personal risk of mental health issues and/or suicide is important for living a longer and better life. For more information about mental health, visit MentalHealth.gov.
9. Find Things That Make You Happy
What’s the point of living a long life if you just work, pay the bills and then die? Happiness is a factor to overall well-being, so make sure you do something every single day that makes you happy. You may find happiness in being with family or caring for a pet. Others may find happiness in activities like hiking, playing cards or watching movies. If you absolutely love what you do for work, then you’ve hit the jackpot! However, sometimes the hardest thing to do is figure out what makes you happy. You’d be surprised at how many people really don’t know what specifically makes them happy. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to do some soul-searching.
10. Avoid Isolation
Even though technology aims to help us operate remotely, it also isolates us. As we try to navigate a world with seemingly more screen time and less face-to-face time, it is important that we avoid isolation, especially later in life. At baseline, the elderly run the risk of isolation when children move away and/or there is loss of a spouse. Physical ailments, inability to leave the home and even progressing sensory loss (i.e. deafness, blindness) can lead to isolation. When we look at previous research on the effects of isolation, isolation and loneliness can increase a person’s overall risk of death (2). As you think about how you will avoid being isolated later in life, make sure you stop to think about who might be at risk of isolation right now.