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You Can Add 6 Years to Your Life With These Easy Habits, New Research Shows

These simple interventions will transform your health.

In a world of biohacks and health tricks, it can be easy to get lost in all of the wellness advice out there. Yet experts say that when it comes down to it, there are just a handful of essential rules you should follow if your goal is a longer, healthier life. In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) has pinpointed eight habits, known as Life's Essential 8, which the organization says is your simple checklist for "lifelong good health."

Now, a new study has put these habits to the test and found that sticking to them can actually slow down your body's natural aging process by six years. "These findings help us understand the link between chronological age and biological age and how following healthy lifestyle habits can help us live longer," said Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, FAHA, chair of the writing group for Life's Essential 8, via press release. "Everyone wants to live longer, yet more importantly, we want to live healthier longer so we can really enjoy and have good quality of life for as many years as possible."

Ready to transform your health and roll back the clock on your biological aging? These are the easy habits you can start today.

RELATED: 15 Life-Changing Habits to Add to Your Wellness Routine.

Eat better.

Healthy Food
margouillat photo/Shutterstock

Eating a healthy diet of whole foods is one of the single most important things you can do for your health. "It protects you against many chronic noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer," explains the World Health Organization (WHO).

Many experts suggest building an eating plan that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, lean meats or fish, whole grains, nuts, and legumes while limiting your intake of processed foods. "Eating a variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugars and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats, are essential for a healthy diet," WHO experts add.

RELATED: 7 "Healthy" Habits That Are Actually Bad For You, According to Doctors.

Be more active.

Couple are getting in position to do push ups.

Getting regular exercise is another way to add years to your life and boost your well-being. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends aiming for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week but notes that the benefits keep coming if you do more than that.

Committing to an exercise regimen can help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It will also strengthen your bones and muscles and improve your balance, which can help you avoid falls or injuries later in life.

Control cholesterol.

cholesterol medications statins mixing alcohol

"Cholesterol is the key ingredient in heart disease. It leads to plaque buildup in our arteries, which increases our blood pressure and our risk of heart attack," explains Catherine Rall, RD, a registered dietitian with Happy V. "Focusing on reducing your consumption of 'bad' cholesterol or LDL in particular will help a lot here."

The Mayo Clinic says there are a few key dietary swaps that can target that area of your health specifically. They recommend limiting saturated fats and reducing trans-fats while increasing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber, and whey protein. Quitting smoking and drinking can also help you lower your cholesterol levels. A doctor can help you determine whether medication may also be beneficial.

Manage blood sugar.

measuring blood sugar

Next, managing your blood sugar is another important step in adding years to your life, the study suggests. According to the CDC, keeping those numbers within your target range can not only help you avoid getting Type 2 diabetes, but it can also prevent or delay the onset of heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. "Staying in your target range can also help improve your energy and mood," CDC experts note.

The Mayo Clinic adds that a diet that helps you manage your blood sugar is actually "the best eating plan for most everyone." Their experts suggest consuming whole foods in moderate portion sizes and eating at regular mealtimes. "It's a healthy-eating plan that's naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories. Key elements are fruits, vegetables and whole grains," they explain.

Manage blood pressure.

Woman getting her blood pressure taken.
Chompoo Suriyo / Shutterstock

Having high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for death and disability. That's because uncontrolled hypertension can raise your risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, dementia, metabolic problems, and more.

The good news? By adopting the other habits on the AHA's checklist, you're already well on your way to better blood pressure. Speak with your doctor to find out if medication is also necessary.

Quit tobacco.

Quitting smoking
Pixelimage / iStock

Quitting tobacco is one of the best decisions you can make for your health and longevity. In fact, the CDC says that quitting smoking can reduce your risk of premature death and add up to 10 years to your life expectancy.

It can also greatly enhance your quality of life, by lowering your risk of cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), poor reproductive health outcomes, and cancer.

Get healthy sleep.

Top view of happy african American man sleeping in comfortable white bed seeing good pleasant dreams, calm biracial male feel fatigue resting napping in cozy bedroom under linen bedding sheets
iStock / fizkes

Getting between seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night can also transform your health and roll back your biological clock.

"Every night when you go to bed, amazing things happen," says Naheed Ali, MD, PhD, the lead writer at Sleep Bubble. "While we sleep, our bodies do essential repair work. It's like giving everything a tune-up while you rest. Cells regenerate, hormones that control growth and stress find balance, and the brain processes information from the day so memories can form properly. This is crucial for staying mentally sharp as we age."

That said, not all sleep is created equally. Ali says that consistency and quality matter just as much as quantity of sleep. "When your sleeping pattern changes constantly, it disrupts these repairing processes. Imagine trying to fix something but never knowing when or how long you have before being interrupted—that'd be tough! Well, inconsistency can actually make us older on a cellular level than we really are."

Manage weight.

woman stepping on scale
mapo_japan / Shutterstock

If you're doing everything else on this list—especially eating well and exercising regularly—managing your weight will most likely come as a byproduct. This is great news since maintaining a healthy weight can slash your risk of several chronic illnesses. In particular, people who manage their weight "are less likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, gallstones, osteoarthritis, breathing problems and sleep apnea," says the AHA.

Speak with your doctor before getting started on any new health plan.

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Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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