The 5 Most Important Habits for a Long Life

The fountain of youth could be as close as your backyard.

Unfortunately, there's no magic pill or otherworldly well that contains the key to a long-lasting life. But there are a few lifestyle habits that are guaranteed to add as much as a decade to your existence, according to a new study  published in the journal Circulation. In the 34-year-study, researchers used the data from the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and compared them with deaths in the time period in order to identify the five definitive lifestyle habits that, on average, prolonged a man's life by 12.2 years and a woman's life by 14 years. So if you want to live longer, adopt these 5 lifestyle habits ASAP. And for more advice on how to live longer, check out These Personality Traits Will Extend Your Life.

Maintaining a Healthy BMI

Older Woman with Orange Juice Yo Mama Jokes

As great as the body positivity movement is, it's important to remember that maintaining a BMI within the range of 18.5 to 25 is important for your health, not your looks. While the relationship between your BMI and mortality is controversial, a 2017 study found that people who are overweight or obese had an increase in risk for all-cause death. And for more great health advice, here's Why The "Snake Diet" Is the Craziest Diet Trend We've Seen in Years. 

Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity

50 compliments

You don't need to spend hours on the treadmill in order to live longer. A recent study found that, for people in their 70s and 80s, less strenuous workouts are more effective in prolonging longevity than high-intensity cardio. Even simply walking for 40 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart failure in post-menopausal women by a whopping 25 percent.

Moderate Alcohol Intake

older man drinking wine

There's been a lot of debate on the effect of alcohol on longevity lately. One recent study found that even having one drink a day can shorten a person's lifespan by one or two years. Other studies, however, have found that having one  glass of red wine per day can boost your heart health, and another recent study that claimed drinking  two units of alcohol a day (which comes out to 12 oz for beer, 5 oz for wine, and 1.5 oz for spirits) can help remove waste from your brain and improve its health in your later years. Since people in the so-called Blue Zones, where residents regularly live over the age of 90, have repeatedly touted having one glass of wine per day as one of the keys to longevity, the idea that moderate drinking can help you live longer still largely checks out.

Lots of plants in your diet

habits after 40

What constitutes as a "healthy diet" is also somewhat up for debate nowadays. But most research agrees that it involves lots of fruit and vegetables, a moderate amount of meat, and very little bad fat. It's also crucial to restrict your calories and avoid overeating. One thing that isn't on this list but should be? Getting a good night of sleep. And for more science-backed tips on how to live longer, check out 100 Ways to Live to 100.

Living smoke-free

quitting smoking gets rid of wrinkles

This one should be obvious, but, according to the CDC, more than 15 out of 100 people in the US were regular smokers in 2018, despite the fact that it accounts for 480,000 deaths every year.

As a reminder: smoking causes 90% of all lung cancer deaths, and 80% of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It also significantly increases your chance of stroke, heart disease, and other illnesses, lowers your sperm count, negatively affects bone health, damages your eyes and teeth, and causes arthritis. The good news is that if you quit, all of these risks get dramatically reduced. Your risk for various cancers, cardiovascular disease, and stroke either gets cut in half or goes back to that of a non-smoker in just five years.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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