Living a long, healthy, vital life takes effort and involves adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Alone, the perfect diet, workout, sleep routine, or most refined supplement regimen won’t promote optimal longevity. But, creating an overall healthy lifestyle that encompasses all of the above and more will result in enjoyable longevity.
Aging is completely natural and influenced by a variety of factors that are easily modifiable and accessible. So, without further ado, here is how to live longer and healthier!
4 Ways to Live Longer and Healthier
Improve health and add years of life by maintaining a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Stimulating the brain and practicing moderation is equally just as helpful for living a healthy, longer life.
1. Maintaining a Balanced Diet
Health and longevity begin within the body. Food most prominently affects the function of our cells, otherwise known as metabolism. And, a high functioning metabolism is the key to longevity.
However, achieving a high, healthy metabolism does not require perfection. It does not mean never eating cake at a birthday party again or only ordering salads at a restaurant, either.
Metabolisms actually function best with moderation! Moderation of food proportions, nutrients, vitamins and minerals, macronutrients, colors, and everything in between.
Maintaining a balanced diet of mostly whole foods with the occasional fun foods begins to feel second nature with practice.
How to Maintain a Balanced Diet
The 70+ billion dollar diet industry likes to feed us complicated solutions under the guise of balance. However, maintaining a truly balanced diet is much more simple!
Utilizing intuitive eating principles, focus on practicing the most simplistic, easiest, best ways to and cultivate a balanced diet:
- Include 5 to 9 servings of fruits and veggies of a variety of colors every day.
- If/when eating grains, consume sour dough, sprouted, and/or whole grain versions.
- Aim to eat less processed, red meats and/or purchase grass-fed, organic varieties.
- Minimize processed, packaged foods with added sugars.
- Avoid inflammatory, refined vegetable oils and fats and replace with unrefined versions of high quality oils and healthy fats.
- Include plenty of fiber throughout the day in meals/snacks.
- Drink hydrating fluids all throughout the day and avoid dehydration.
Sticking to the above statements more often than not will effortlessly enable you to preserve a balanced, sustainable way of eating. Oh, and all while promoting vital longevity!
2. Regular Exercise
Consistently engaging in joyful movement/physical activity prevails over the perfect exercise regimen. While many folks are focused on the “right” type of exercise to do, research shows this is not as important.
In fact, many studies show that any exercise can partially reverse the effects of the aging process and help preserve metabolism in the elderly. Maintaining a minimum quantity and quality of exercise can lead to a number of benefits, including:
- Managing high blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol
- Preventing against certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other health conditions
- Lowering the risk of osteoporosis and falling
- Decreasing death risk
Jogging, swimming, and strength training are quite health-promoting, but no need to suffer through sweat sessions that are not personally enjoyable. Any movement is better than no movement and can lead to optimal longevity. Varying tasks and movements include:
- Walking for 30-60 minutes a couple times a week
- Performing household chores regularly
- Taking extra effort to walk in parking lots or up the stairs
- Stretching and simply just moving
Find a few ways to move and commit to regularly doing them, and that will truly be the most effective exercise regimen for longevity. Keep it simple!
3. Keeping Your Brain Active
Human life expectancy has nearly doubled within the past ten generations or so. Thanks to the advancement of medicine, people are able to live longer than ever before.
However, cognitive decline and the deterioration of the brain (i.e. brain diseases and disorders) prevents many folks from actually enjoying and thriving in their older age.
Research once touted that stimulating the brain in any capacity is sufficient enough to promote mind longevity. This, in turn, naturally correlates with life longevity. But newer research suggests cognitive stimulation is necessary for optimal brain preservation.
What does this really mean? Cognitive stimulation includes any task or intervention that triggers the mind to think in new ways, concentration, and long and short memory recall. Taking this a step further, cognitive stimulation usually forces someone out of their comfort zone, as is the case when learning a new skill. The mind wants to be challenged so that it can create new neural pathways and enhance its abilities.
Stimulating the mind via common tasks like crossword puzzles, puzzles, Sudoku, or even reading are beneficial. However, learning a new skill or training the mind to think in different ways progresses and preserves the mind even more.
Here are a few ideas and ways to strengthen the longevity of the brain:
- Learn a new language
- Use the opposite hand to brush teeth or eat
- Teach yourself a completely new skill or hobby that utilizes multiple senses
- Engage in stimulating conversation with others
- Read while exercising (safely)
- Meditate (It can be difficult to train the mind to think about nothing, but masters of this skill tend to live long, healthy lives!)
- Anything that poses a mental challenge!
4. Practicing Moderation
Briefly mentioned above, practicing moderation in all areas of life is the golden ticket to lasting longevity. No one leads a perfectly healthy life one hundred percent of the time and that is ok!
In practical terms, practicing moderation looks like:
- Eating whole, nutrient-dense foods 80 to 90 percent of the time, yet, still enjoying appropriate portions of sweets, desserts, and soul-giving foods at dinner parties, birthdays, holidays and other special occasions and not feeling guilty afterwards.
- Moving joyfully most days of the week most weeks of the year, year after year.
- Balancing mindful activities, like learning a new skill or trying something scary/brand new, with mindless activities like watching TV.
Promoting longevity, a healthy, long, exuberant life need not be overly complicated. While it does require intentional effort, simple health-promoting activities accomplish the job.
Eat well most of the time, move in a way that feels good often, and challenge the mind to think new and differently, and longevity will accompany.
Aguirre, E., et al. Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) for People with Dementia-Who Benefits Most? International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, vol. 28, no. 3, 2012, pp. 284–290., doi:10.1002/gps.3823.
Gremeaux, Vincent, et al. Exercise and Longevity. Maturitas, vol. 73, no. 4, 2012, pp. 312–317., doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2012.09.012.
Ventana al Conocimiento (Knowledge Window) Scientific journalism Estimated reading time Time 4 to read, et al. Tips for Keeping Your Brain Younger Longer. OpenMind. www.bbvaopenmind.com/en/science/bioscience/tips-for-keeping-your-brain-younger-longer/.