Such a simple saying that holds so much meaning. Since I turned the big 40 in March this saying has been floating around my head and making appearances on a daily basis. I realize that in the scheme of things 40 is not *that* old and that I have many years ahead of me. I realize that those older than me might think that I’m still young and, just maybe, that youth is still being wasted on me. It’s all about perception, though, isn’t it? It’s all about when we start to figure things out. It’s all about when we realize that health matters, not only for our longevity, but for our family, friends and community as a whole.
Ask anyone about the keys to living a longer, healthier life and you’ll usually get these 3 answers: diet, exercise and good genes. While this is absolutely true, we can’t forget lifestyle, attitude and spiritual disposition. This is probably why some of my clients are surprised when I delve into more of the lifestyle coaching part of their program. As I tell those I work with “it’s all part of the big picture, part of the process” to which they go along with it and often see unexpected (yet very appreciated) results. Think of your body as a car, would you get a new engine and forget about the flat tires and broken windshield? Without everything running properly and in good order, the car will meet its demise much earlier than if it had been through routine maintenance. A spot of rust that in no way impairs the vehicle’s ability to get from point a to point b can eventually take over the whole body. It’s the little things that can end up costing us everything.
I now want to beat all life expectancy predictions and live to be 200. Yes, I know that’s an impossible feat. I’m dreaming on that one, right? At the very least I want the years leading up to my passing to be healthy, happy, vibrant and strong. I definitely don’t want to be taken out of the game due to bad lifestyle choices or a preventable disease. Why would anyone? Below are 10 simple strategies that I practice for a longer, healthier, happier life.
10 ways to live a longer, healthier life – starting today
1. Get and stay fit
Regular exercise keeps your body strong and will help prevent injury and disease. Search for something that you enjoy, which will keep you going back for more. Once you’ve established a routine, replace the words exercise or working out with the word fun. Starting small is perfectly fine, just start.
“We found that adding low amounts of physical activity to one’s daily routine, such as just 75 minutes of brisk walking per week, was associated with increased longevity: a gain of 1.8 years of life expectancy after age 40, compared with doing no such activity” – Harvard Medical School Professor of Medicine I-Min Lee
2. Lower your stress level
Play music, meditate, walk, take a nap, talk to a friend. Stress management is one of the keys to disease prevention and a longer life.
3. Have more sex
An active sex life is connected with a longer life. Having sex two or three times a week can lower your risk of heart disease by up to 45%. And guess what? It’s a form of exercise. Two birds, one stone.
No matter how you feel about religion, find something to believe in. Your higher power doesn’t have to be Jesus, Allah or Buddha. It could be Love, Kindness, the Universe, etc. Studies show that people who have faith live longer, happier and healthier lives.
5. Check that ‘tude
One quality that most centenarians (a person who is 100 years old or older) share is optimism. Want to live a long life? Your attitude counts. Be grateful for the good things in your life and stop bitching and moaning about the little things that will mean nothing in the end.
6. Brain games
Learn a new language, attend lectures, read more books, finally figure out that damn Rubiks’ Cube. Keep your mind engaged and sharp.
7. Stay lean
Extra weight can put you at risk for diabetes, heart attacks, cancer and many other diseases that can rip away precious years from your life.
8. Don’t smoke
This one is a no-brainer. Seriously, don’t. If you do, stop. Get help and keep trying.
9. Help others
Volunteering will make you happier, healthier and live longer. And it just feels good to help others! There are strong links between volunteering and longevity.
10. Eat well
Realize that food is for fuel and nourishment. Also realize that there is not a one size fits all diet. Better food availability, variety, balance and more appropriate nutrition are critical for overall health and longevity. Make it a point to reach out to someone who can support you in finding what’s right for you as an individual while cutting through all the gimmicks and misinformation out there.
In what ways are you ensuring a longer, happier life?