Clusters of centenarians live in the most unexpected places worldwide, from Okinawa, Japan, to Sardinia, Italy. Researchers call these areas “Blue Zones,” believing they hold the key to a long, healthy life.
Regardless of your current age, the desire to lead a long and healthy life is likely a common goal. While there are no absolute guarantees, issues like chronic health conditions, mobility limitations, dementia, and frailty can still happen no matter what we do.
However, by prioritizing a healthy lifestyle, preventive health care, and long-term care planning, individuals can increase their chances of enjoying a longer, more vibrant, and fulfilling life. Taking advantage of some of these longevity hacks will be helpful!
The most effective longevity hacks may surprise you, as not all pertain to diet and exercise. Having a sense of purpose, socializing, resting, and spending time with family are among the most important principles older adults should adopt. Here are seven healthy lifestyle habits to increase vitality.
Move Your Body
It’s normal to feel new aches and pains as you get older. However, continuous movement — even gentle ones — is critical for a longer life. According to a recent study, older adults taking 6,000-8,000 steps daily reduce their mortality risk by 50%-60%.
Yoga can also decrease frailty in adults over 65 years old. Another study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found hatha, iyengar and chair-based yoga styles were most effective for improving gait and balance, building endurance, and strengthening hands and lower extremities.
Eat Nutritious Foods
Aiming for a well-balanced diet of clean fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains is best for long-lasting life expectancy.
Consuming more fish as you age will ensure you receive adequate omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s can significantly lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and enhance brain function in older women.
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine also points out the importance of plant-based eating. A plant-based diet is one of the most prevalent longevity hacks, decreasing your risk of coronary heart disease by 40% and cerebral vascular disease by 29%.
The 2023 report published by the Alzheimer’s Association says 10.7% of adults over 65 have Alzheimer’s dementia. Older adults should spend more time socializing with friends, family, and their community to counter the risk and keep their cognitive function sharp.
Ample research demonstrates the positive effects of social interaction between aging adults. Deepening your relationships with others also produces greater life satisfaction and happiness.
Finding a new purpose in your next chapter of life can also build connections with others. For instance, older adults volunteering at least 100 hours annually reduce their mortality risk and achieve greater physical and mental outcomes.
The American Institute of Stress highlights how chronic stress weakens the immune system, leading to a higher chance of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, inflammation, and other age-related conditions. It also reduces your body’s immune response to life-saving vaccines to prevent influenza and pneumonia.
Meditation is one of the simplest and most necessary longevity hacks to decrease stress as you age. Mindfulness techniques, breathing exercises, guided imagery, body scans, and loving-kindness methods promote a healthier mind and body.
You don’t need experience to begin meditating. Just sit comfortably on the floor or a chair, close your eyes, and focus on your breath.
Improve Sleep Hygiene
Those with poor sleeping habits — or more serious conditions like sleep apnea — must get their bedtime routine under control to increase vitality. About 8% of all deaths may be attributed to chronic poor sleep.
Ideally, you should aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night — but sleep quality is just as important as the number of hours you have your eyes closed. Achieving a deep, restful slumber is the best way to feel refreshed and energized for the day. Avoid caffeine and shut down your devices well before bed. These things can obstruct melatonin production and prevent you from falling asleep in the first place.
There’s a reason why doctors prescribe the outdoors as an alternative treatment for various physical and mental health conditions. Being outside improves your mood and promotes physical activity. Research shows adults over 70 report fewer musculoskeletal pains, poor sleep patterns, and urinary incontinence when they go out.
Because most no longer work, they also tend to have higher vitamin D levels from more sun exposure. Vitamin D is essential for preventing osteoporosis, reduced skeletal muscle mass, bone fractures, and weakened mobility. Over 2 million Americans suffer fractures from osteoporosis.
When was the last time you had a good belly laugh? Embracing your natural positive reactions to the world around you is essential for longevity. More frequent laughter reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and stress-induced cancer while increasing immune functioning. It also just feels good to laugh out loud.
Likewise, expressing gratitude for what you have puts difficult circumstances into perspective and boosts life satisfaction. Keep a journal by your bedside and write down three things you are grateful for daily. This practice allows you to reflect on positive experiences, loved ones, and reasons for joyfulness.
Healthy Aging Starts with a Healthy Lifestyle
You can increase your life expectancy by adopting healthy lifestyle habits, from nutrition to meditation to laughter. These longevity hacks touch on every aspect of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being for optimal health and vitality.
However, a healthy lifestyle alone doesn't prevent you from having aging issues like long-term care.
Longevity and Long-Term Care
Despite the potential for a longer and more active life, longevity still comes with its set of challenges, and one significant concern is the increased risk of needing long-term care as we age. The rising costs of long-term care services will pose a substantial physical, emotional, and financial burden on you and your family. To address this challenge, it's crucial to engage in advance planning to ensure that you have the resources and support necessary to maintain your quality of life in later years.
Long-Term Care Insurance is a valuable tool that can help mitigate the financial impact of long-term care needs. By adding an LTC policy to your comprehensive retirement plan, you create a safety net that provides access to quality care, including the option to receive care in the comfort of your own home.
This not only protects your assets but also eases the burden on your family, ensuring that you can enjoy your retirement years with peace of mind, knowing that you have a plan in place to address potential long-term care needs.
About the Author
Beth Rush writes about various health and wellness topics, helping readers learn how to make healthy lifestyle choices and better enjoy their lives.
Contributor since August 9th, 2023
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