4 Easy Things You Can Do to Live a Longer Life, According to Doctors
With these simple steps, becoming a healthier person doesn't have to be so overwhelming.
The coronavirus pandemic has likely had you thinking about your health more than you have in a long time—possibly ever. And regardless of whether you are someone who has stayed the course when it comes to making healthy lifestyle choices, the importance to do so has never been more clear. So, whether you are already on track or need a little bit of guidance to get there, we've gathered some proven tips based on a study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Observing 6,200 men and women over an eight-year period, researchers found that individuals who engaged in specific behaviors reduced their chances of death from all causes during that time by 80 percent. Here are four easy things you can do to live a longer life. And for more on maintaining your health for years to come, check out the 50 Important Habits Linked to a Longer Life.
The importance of getting your body moving and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle can't be overstated. And it doesn't take that much to enjoy the benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adults should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (a brisk walk qualifies) every week—that's only 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The researchers at Johns Hopkins recommend breaking it up into three 10-minute walks throughout the day. And for more ideas on how to get active, check out these 21 Easy Ways to Get in More Exercise Every Day.
If you really want to live a long and healthy life, one of the most important things you can do is eat a balanced diet. That doesn't mean you have to go to the extremes of some bizarre fad diet or give up all your favorite foods. It just means you have to eat a variety of nutritious and natural foods.
The American Heart Association officially recommends a Mediterranean diet, which simply means you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, lean proteins like fish, and olive oil—in the meantime, keeping your consumption of red meat and dairy to a minimum. The healthy individuals in the John Hopkins study were also found to eat a diet that met these requirements. And for another daily habit that can have a positive impact, check out the 30 Incredible Health Benefits Coming From Your Cup of Coffee.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Your weight is going to fluctuate from time to time. You may shed a few pounds here or gain a couple there, especially during a pandemic when you're trapped at home for a long period. It's easy to do. However, it's essential to not let those subtle fluctuations turn into extreme losses or gains.
According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, carrying too much excess weight can increase your risk of heart disease. And the researchers at Johns Hopkins found that the healthiest people observed in the study maintained a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25. Want to know what your BMI is? Enter your height and weight in this free tool from Johns Hopkins to see where you're at.
You've heard it time and time again, but it bears repeating—especially when you consider the fact that the researchers behind the Johns Hopkins study say it's the most important thing on this list you can do. If you are still smoking, it's time to quit.
"Smoking not only affects coronary arteries and lungs," Haitham Ahmed, MD, MPH, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins and the lead author of the study, said in a statement. "Smokers also have increased rates of cancer and risk of stroke. It just affects so many organ systems." And for more helpful information, sign up for our daily newsletter.