Little changes you can make to extend your life

Hugging can help you fight off infection!

Growing older can be a biaaatch but thank God for it! According to researchers, most people can expect to live into their sixties and beyond. A longer life represents an important opportunity, not only for seasoned folks and their families but also for societies as a whole. As a matter of fact, the number of people age 60-plus will rise from 900 million to 2 billion between 2015 and 2050.

WHEW! Great news!

Making little lifestyle tweaks can pay off big time! Most of the things we can do to try and extend our lives are pretty common sense and might seem small but again, the impact will be so worthwhile.

Stop smoking–According to statistics, the smoking prevalence of Blacks continues to exceed that of whites primarily as a result of their lower success with quitting. No matter what age, choosing not to smoke improves overall health.  If you stop smoking you will not only add years to your life (smoking decreases lifespan by 10 years) but also have more energy and also save money. Smoking causes 1 out of every 5 deaths in this country every year and increases your chances of getting seriously sick from illnesses such as cancer, respiratory diseases, and heart ailments.

Exercise–Regular exercise can help you live a longer and healthier life by building stronger muscles and staving off many chronic illnesses. Even moderate amounts can actually shave years off your age. It only takes a mere 30 minutes a day of activity to get your heart going and your blood pumping to lower the chances of getting many age-related diseases, and to increase your chances of staying active, productive, and most importantly, independent, as you age.

Floss daily–It has been proven that proper dental hygiene can extend your life. Flossing every day is crucial to your overall body health, and it can increase your life expectancy by up to 10 years. Daily flossing lowers the bacteria count that exists in your mouth. The bacteria that originates in your mouth can have harmful side effects on other major organs in your body, even your heart. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Research has shown that individuals with gum disease are nearly two times more likely to suffer from heart disease than those without any gum-related health issues.

Kiss–A kiss is more than just a kiss. It could actually help you live longer. Researchers at the University of Arizona found that kissing reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and even lowers cholesterol levels. Among their findings though, perhaps the most shocking is that couples who kiss goodbye every morning live an average of five years longer than those who don’t.

Have sex–Numerous studies have shown that an active sex life is closely correlated with a longer life. Specifically, it seems like sex may lower the risk for heart attacks, strokes, and other heart diseases. In 2010, the New England Research Institute conducted a massive study. Its results suggested that regular sexual activity may reduce heart disease risk.

Increase your vitamin D intake–Seasoned folks need more vitamin D period! Taking vitamin D supplements and eating foods rich in vitamin D (salmon, canned tuna, sardines, egg yolks, mushrooms, OJ) are also effective ways to increase the amount of this vitamin you get. If you are a caregiver, be sure to assist your loved one in getting outside just a little bit every day to catch some sunlight, and sitting by a window does not count. Not only will this improve vitamin D levels, but it could also improve sleep. Maintaining vitamin D levels has to be the easiest and cheapest way to improve your health and increase your life expectancy.

Sleep–Getting a good night’s sleep can help reduce stress, keep your weight in a healthy range and give you energy for the day ahead. Aim for at least seven hours per night, and seek treatment for medical sleep disorders. When you sleep enough, your body repairs and regenerates its tissues and strengthens your immune system. Napping for at least 30 minutes a day can actually cut your heart attack risk by at least 30% according to some research from the Harvard School of Public Health. Clinicians summarized that a short snooze every single day reduces stress hormones in the body.

Eat healthy–Kick the fried and processed foods to the curb! Switch to a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and fresh seafood is linked with longevity. These foods deliver vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy fats that boost health and help prevent disease.

Buckle up–Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45% and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%. Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash. People not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash.

Hug more–When you’re hugging, your brain releases a hormone called oxytocin (otherwise known as the “cuddle hormone.”) As your oxytocin levels increase, the amount of cortisol in your body decreases, making it easier for you to fight off infection. If you live by yourself try the following:

  • Pay for a massage
  • Stroke an animal
  • Hug or hold hands with a friend
  • Ask someone to brush your hair or scratch your back
  • Get a haircut (make sure to ask your stylist for a scalp massage)
  • Utilize online cuddling services like Cuddlist is an online service that allows you to book an appointment with a certified professional cuddler who will help guide you through the process of experimenting with non-sexual touch. You are encouraged to work directly with your cuddlist to determine your preferred level of contact.

Eat more nuts–Nuts are nutritional powerhouses. They are high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium and vitamin E which all do a body good, especially if you’re over 50. Clinicians have also concluded that nut eaters tend to live longer than those who don’t because the food can help prevent quite a few chronic ailments like some cancers, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. One study found that people who consumed at least 3 servings of nuts per week had a 39% lower risk of premature death

Get regular medical check-ups–Getting regular physician check-ups can help identify potential problems early. The earlier a condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease is diagnosed and treated, the healthier you’ll be and the longer you’ll live.

Get spiritual–Researchers from Ohio State University conducted two surveys studying more than 1,500 newspaper obituaries first from Ohio, then from across the United States. In both samples, the study showed that those with documented religious affiliations lived an average of 9.45 and 5.64 years longer respectively than those who did not. Churchgoers tend to engage in positive behaviors including high social interaction and lower rates of alcohol and drug abuse which can extend life. Prayer, volunteer work, meditation, church attendance—are evidence of a healthy, integrated, and balanced life.