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In many ways, ages 50+ are the best years of your life. You’re more independent than when you were younger, have a stronger sense of who you are, can look back at everything you have accomplished in your life so far, and likely have more time to pursue passions you never even knew you had. At the same time, there are some not-so-wonderful truths that come with aging. As your health begins to decline, you spend more time visiting doctors, distracted by pesky symptoms, and, according to Money, the average couple could expect to pay upwards of $280,000 in healthcare costs from the time they are 65 to their late 80s. Want to avoid all of this and learn how to continue enjoying your golden years for longer than you ever imagined? Follow these simple tips to boost your longevity and stay as healthy as possible, for as long as possible.
Get Rid of Your Guilty Pleasures – Well, Some of Them
Old age may seem like a time to indulge, but if you can, it’s still best to give up some of life’s guilty pleasures. For example, if you are a smoker, one of the most impactful things you can do to improve your longevity is to quit smoking. According to the CDC, the life expectancy of smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of nonsmokers. Luckily, if you quit, your chances of dying from a smoking-related disease significantly decrease. Cutting back on alcohol may also increase the length of your life. While medical recommendations about alcohol can be confusing (one drink per day may actually have a positive effect on your health), one thing is certain – more than one drink a day is associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and disability from diseases like cancer.
Make More Friends
It isn’t entirely understood why, but people who have a wider social network have been shown to have reduced morbidity and mortality. What this means is that the more relationships and friends you have in your life and the better connected you are to others, the healthier and longer you will live. Social relationships can help reduce stress, keep us more active, challenge our minds, and give us a reason to put ourselves out there and try new things.
Get a Pet
One trick to living longer you may not have thought of – getting a pet! While having more humans in your life may improve your longevity, having an animal in your life may do the same thing! At least one study has shown that pet ownership improves survival after an adverse health event like a heart attack. And the reasons why having a pet may be good for your health are obvious. Pets promote physical activity, a sense of purpose, and they can help reduce stress, particularly in those with certain mental conditions.
Clean Up Your Diet
No list of longevity tips would be complete without talking about the importance of diet. The Mediterranean diet and a vegetarian diet are often cited as examples of healthy diets that may increase life expectancy. On the flip side, eating foods like red meat have been shown to increase certain types of cancers. But any diet that focuses on whole foods, is high in vegetables, and low in processed carbs and sugars can support you into old age and reduce the risks of diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Like diet, exercise is one of the most important things you can do to promote your own health. One study from the National Cancer Institute found that getting physical activity each week could extend a person’s lifespan up to four and a half years. Combined with a healthy diet, physical activity can also help keep your weight down. And since obesity is such a major risk factor for so many diseases, it’s obvious why staying active should be one of your priorities if you want to live as long as possible.
Take Preventive Care Seriously
Another great way to promote your own health and to make sure any potential diseases don’t progress too quickly is to stay connected to the healthcare system. Visit your doctor at least once a year and whenever anything else is bothering you. Your doctor can provide you with preventive care like vaccinations and can also make sure you’re up to date on all of your screening tests, like screening for certain kinds of cancers. By staying involved in the healthcare system, you increase the chances of catching a potentially serious disease early enough to treat it.