The Keys to a Long, Healthy Life: The Expert's Guide to Living to 100

From centenarians to super-agers, more people than ever are living longer and healthier lives. What’s the key to their success? New research is unlocking the secrets behind longevity. Longevity has become a national obsession. With life expectancies climbing, more and more of us are asking how we can live longer and stay healthy as we get older. After all, with an average life expectancy of 78 and climbing, most of us have plenty of years ahead of us. Fortunately, scientists are studying this phenomenon with unprecedented focus and intensity. And that’s good news for the rest of us, because what they’re learning about super-agers, blue zones, and other long-lived individuals is helping us all achieve healthier and longer lives.

Exercise more, eat better and feel great

The first step toward a long and healthy life is to build an exercise habit. While you can’t choose your genes, you can control your lifestyle choices. Exercising three to five times a week can significantly reduce your risk of early death. Fitness is also important for maintaining your independence as you age. People who have lower levels of fitness are at increased risk of falling, which can lead to injuries and loss of independence. Regular aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and lungs, improves your mental health, and reduces your risk of many diseases, including diabetes and certain cancers. Healthy eating is central to a long and healthy life. By maintaining a healthy diet, you can improve your overall health, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and increase your life expectancy.

Stay connected to your family and friends

One of the most important things you can do to extend your healthy lifespan is to stay connected to your loved ones. Regular in-person visits to loved ones can help to reduce stress and improve your health. Spending time with friends and family can also increase your longevity by as much as 9%. For every hour you spend socializing, your risk of death from all causes drops by about 20%. The trick is to strike the right balance. 

Take care of your brain

Our brains are composed of roughly 100 billion neurons, and they are incredibly powerful, complex organs. Unfortunately, they are also extremely vulnerable to age-related decline. A landmark study published in a prestigious neurology journal found that people who scored in the bottom third on a standard cognitive exam were twice as likely to die over the next 10 years as the people who scored in the top third. The study underscores the importance of protecting and nurturing your brain as you age. There are many things you can do to protect your brain, including:

  • Taking regular breaks from your work - Studies have shown that people who take regular breaks from work have lower stress levels and are less likely to experience burnout.
  • Keeping your brain active - Physical and mental exercise can help to reduce age-related cognitive decline.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet - Eating a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables can help to improve your cognitive function.

Watch what you breathe

A regular meditation practice can improve your physical health, reduce your risk of disease, and increase your lifespan. Studies have found that meditating has positive effects on both your physical and mental health. Those who practice meditation have lower blood pressure, lower rates of anxiety and depression, and stronger immune systems. Additionally, meditation can also reduce inflammation, which is a major risk factor for many diseases. The benefits of meditation don’t end there. Studies have found that meditation can also slow down the process of cellular aging. Regular meditation has been shown to slow down cellular aging and even increase longevity.

Next Steps

When you look at the big picture, the keys to a long and healthy life aren’t all that surprising: exercise more, eat better, stay connected to your loved ones, take care of your brain, and watch what you breathe. Those are all simple, straightforward actions that just about anyone can take. And the payoff is a longer, healthier, and happier life! In today’s world, where it’s easy to get distracted by work, social media, and other digital diversions, it may seem impossible to achieve such a straightforward goal. But by following these four steps, you can make sure to prioritize your long-term health and happiness without getting bogged down by the stresses of everyday life.

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