Live longer in good health: 5 most effective habits

Estimated read time 5 min read

As we know, our lifestyles have a very important influence on our life expectancy and our health. Food, physical activity, food supplements, stress management are all factors that could have an impact on our longevity. Problem: on the subject, we read a bit of everything and anything. Everyone going there with their advice to really improve health and longevity, one can quickly be lost.

So, to see more clearly, let’s try to see what some recent scientific studies say on the subject. Several recent meta-analyses have investigated the topic: one study by researchers at the University of Madrid , another by scientists at Harvard University . What are they saying? What are the habits, lifestyles that can increase longevity and life expectancy in good health?

Here are the 5 most important.

1 – Do not smoke and do not drink too much alcohol

Scientific studies agree on one point: the consumption of tobacco and alcohol are among the main habits that affect life expectancy in good health. For example, tobacco and alcohol together are responsible for nearly one in three cancers in France (see: What causes cancer? ). Smoking and regular alcohol consumption are also aggravating factors for cardiovascular diseases, cerebral pathologies and many other chronic diseases.

Reducing tobacco and alcohol consumption, or better, not smoking or drinking alcohol, are therefore the habits most likely to improve general health and in particular to prolong life expectancy in good health.

Infographic provided by mental health facility in Arizona, Fountain Hills Recovery

2 – A balanced diet and a stable weight

In terms of general health and life expectancy, diet is also a fundamental lever, for two reasons. First, diet is the first factor involved in individual weight variations. However, studies show that there is a very strong correlation between the weight of an individual during his life and his life expectancy. Avoiding overweight or thinness and staying in a healthy weight zone (generally, except in special cases, between 18 and 25 of Body Mass Index, BMI) is a way of prolonging one’s overall health. Excess weight in particular is responsible for a series of pathologies and chronic diseases: cancers, cardiovascular diseases, joint problems. Avoiding it is therefore an essential health gesture….

A balanced diet is also important from the point of view of longevity and healthy life expectancy, insofar as it helps to prevent a number of diseases. For example, a diet rich in fiber can significantly reduce the risk of gastrointestinal cancers, among the most common, especially in men. Regular intakes of essential fatty acids, in particular Omega 3, would also significantly improve cardiovascular health. The supply of nutrients and vitamins could have a role in the prevention of cancers and other pathologies, as well as a protective role in the immune system. A constant protein intake helps maintain functional muscle mass,

In short, as the saying goes, food is our first medicine. For a healthy diet, favor large portions and a wide variety of vegetables, legumes and fruits, bet on cereals, especially whole grains, and on quality proteins (especially vegetable proteins). Reduce added sugars, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and especially meat, cold meats and cheeses.

3 – Regular physical activity

Whether in studies from Harvard University or in major meta-analyses conducted on longevity, physical activity always appears to be a crucial factor in healthy life expectancy. A meta-analysis on the subject shows that physical activity reduces the risk of death from all causes by almost a third. It also indicates that the practice of regular physical activity can increase life expectancy by up to several years.

30 minutes a day of moderate to intense physical activity is recommended to maintain good health. Some studies even speak of one hour of physical activity per day (see: How much sport to do each week for health ). Physical activity also reduces cardiovascular risks, cancer risks, helps maintain mobility. Above all, it helps maintain a stable weight and limits fat gain by increasing muscle mass.

But then regular physical activity, concretely, what is it? Brisk walking, running, cycling, various sports, fitness or even yoga: it doesn’t matter as long as the activity involves sufficient cardiovascular effort. And the main thing is to practice it regularly.

4 – Quality sleep and good stress management

Sleep is also a crucial factor in longevity. Studies agree on the fact that nights of sleep of at least 7-8 hours greatly contribute to general health, especially in the long term. Not getting enough sleep alters the hormonal system, for example increasing the circulation of hormones like cortisol (the stress hormone). This therefore indirectly contributes to the increase in certain pathologies, such as hypertension. Lack of sleep also alters the metabolism of the hormones responsible for appetite, in particular ghrelin and leptin, which can also contribute to weight gain or eating disorders.

In general, it is therefore important in terms of health to pay attention to the quantity and quality of sleep.

5 – Regular social relations and leisure

Finally, the quality of our social relationships and our leisure activities would also influence our health and longevity. A study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina has shown that social isolation causes the deterioration of health indicators: inflammation, hypertension… Conversely, the fact of forging social ties and relationships is associated with health benefits. Good social relations is a better psychological health, but it is also the guarantee to stay active, which is particularly important in maintaining good health especially with aging.

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