Last Updated on August 9, 2021 by Lori Geurin
Would you like to learn how to live longer and feel better? Then keep reading for 10 habits proven to increase your life span.
Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” I tend to agree – do you? Yet, there’s something about being human that makes us want to live a long life.
The average life expectancy of Americans rose for the first time in 4 years after reaching its peak in 2014. Many people think genes and heredity play a major role in deciding how long they’ll live. But, genetics are not as influential as we once thought.
It turns out that other factors, like eating habits and lifestyle, are much more important. This is great news since it means we can influence the quality and length of our lives by making healthier choices.
There are many ways to increase your lifespan and quality of life, but here are 10 simple habits that will make a difference in how you live.
10 Ways To Increase Your Lifespan
1. Drink Coffee Or Tea
Do you love your morning cup of joe as much as I do? If so, you can reap some impressive benefits from drinking coffee! Coffee and tea are full of antioxidants. Drinking coffee and/or tea may help prevent chronic disease, which can lead to an early death.
Please keep in mind that coffee and tea contain caffeine (unless you drink decaf).
Drinking them too late in the day may interrupt your sleep. Also, if you drink too much caffeine you may feel jittery so you might want to limit your intake to 4 cups of coffee a day, or even less depending on how it makes you feel.
You may want to try this recipe for my favorite healthy coffee drink.
2. Don’t Overeat
You may be thinking that’s easier said than done. Especially when it comes to chocolate. But, research has shown that reducing caloric intake may increase your life expectancy. (7)
Eating fewer calories has also been linked to
Some of the oldest (and, apparently, healthiest) people in Japan eat until they feel about 80% full and then they stop. (10)
Starving yourself is not the goal here. Neither is it recommended. So what can you do to lower your caloric intake and prevent overeating?
- eat smaller servings
- eat on a smaller plate
- chew slowly for a longer period of time before swallowing each bite
- leave some food on your plate
- or my favorite – practice intermittent fasting
Check out this video about fasting and aging on YouTube.
3. Move Your Body
Studies have shown the harmful effects of being a couch potato and not getting enough exercise. According to Health.com, a 2010 study linked watching too much TV to an early death:
The study followed 8,800 adults with no history of heart disease for more than six years. Compared to those who watched less than two hours of TV per day, people who watched four hours or more were 80% more likely to die from heart disease and 46% more likely to die from any cause. All told, 284 people died during the study.
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Too Much Sitting Is Not Healthy
Another study showed a link between sitting too much and premature death. (11) I recently purchased an adjustable standing desk, similar to this one, to help offset the negative impact of sitting in front of a computer all day.
And best of all, the more you exercise and stay active, the more you reap the benefits. (14) Exercising more than 150 minutes a week has the most benefits. But any time you move is good for your health and can help you live longer.
If you’re just starting out with a fitness plan, focus on gradually increasing the time you spend working out. For example, the first week you could set a goal of walking 15 minutes (or 5 or 10 minutes, whatever works for you), 3-5 days a week.
Then the following week, increase your walking to 20 minutes a day. Continue increasing your goal each week until you’re walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. By then you’ve reached your 150 minutes a week of exercise!
Learn more about the amazing benefits of walking!
Just for fun, you might want to try this stand and sit test which can predict longevity. Warning: It’s not for the faint of heart. My husband and I tried it out. It was a hoot and a half! Let me know how it goes!
This next one you’ve heard before, but it bears repeating…
4. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is linked to decreased lifespan. A study of women in the UK showed that smokers may lose 10 years of their lifespan and are much more likely to die prematurely. (15)
The good news is that it’s never too late to quit. Here are some resources to help people quit smoking.
5. Include Spices In Your Diet
Consuming spices such as turmeric and cinnamon can help you live longer. Turmeric has a bright yellow chemical compound called curcumin. It’s a member of the ginger family.
I take this turmeric curcumin supplement daily to help control pain. It’s been just as effective as the prescription pain medicines I was taking before for chronic Lyme and stopped taking since I learned about turmeric.
Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants and smells great! It’s anti-inflammatory and lowers blood sugar. Here’s a recipe for Cinnamon Tea you may want to try. And these are only a few examples of the healthful spices that are available to us.
6. Manage Stress
Reducing stress and anxiety are important skills to learn for living longer.
Everyone has stress. People feel different types of stress and anxiety and in different amounts.
The key is learning skills to manage stress so it doesn’t negatively affect your health. Developing a positive outlook and practicing gratitude are helpful tools in this process.
Related: 20 Easy Ways To Express Gratitude
You may want to check out these tips for managing stress.
Studies show that laughter and a positive outlook are good for you and may add years to your life. (18) So grab your funniest friend and head to the movies to watch that comedy you’ve been wanting to see! Or if you’re stuck in the house, call them up and have a chat.
7. Sleep Well
When you’re sleeping your body works hard to heal and rejuvenate. Developing a regular sleep routine is essential to your health. Relaxing habits such as taking a warm bath and reading a book can help you fall asleep faster.
It’s also important to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. This can be challenging if you have small children or work irregular hours. But, it’s a good idea to keep your sleeping schedule as regular as possible.
So simply do the best you can within your unique circumstances and don’t stress about it.
It’s recommended for adults to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleeping much more or less can shorten your life expectancy. (19)
Keep in mind that we all go through seasons of life when we get more or less sleep. Many times this cannot be helped. Try not to stress if you’re in one of those times now.
Just ride it out. It’ll pass soon enough and you’ll be back to catching’ those zzz’s. And if not, check out the article below for some sound sleep advice.
Okay, I know you’re not a squirrel, but…
8. Eat Nuts
Amazingly, eating nuts might add a few years to your life!
Nuts are chock full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, fiber, and protein. One study showed that people who ate at least 3 servings of nuts per week lowered their risk of premature death by 39%. (20)
Also, eating nuts has a therapeutic effect on inflammation, heart disease, some cancers, and diabetes. (21)
Here are some healthy nut recipes you may want to try.
What did the nut say when it was chasing the other nut?
I’m a cashew!
9. Eat Your Fruits And Veggies
Filling your diet with lots of plant foods is a healthy choice for many reasons.
There are many ways to get your fill of fruits and veggies each day:
- add them to smoothies
- eat veggies raw with hummus or your favorite dip
- roast vegetables in the oven with seasoning
- make fruit kabobs
- make a fruit and yogurt parfait
- ferment your veggies to get a healthy dose of probiotics
- make a big salad
Another great way to make sure you’re getting the best nutrition is by taking a high-quality multivitamin.
and last, but certainly not least…
10. Do Things That Make You Happy
We may not be able to control bad things that happen in life. But, we can control how we respond to difficult situations.
We can mope around feeling sorry for ourselves. But, it’s been my experience that this never helps. Plus, choosing to live life with joy and gratitude is contagious! (Here are 20 easy ways to express gratitude.)
I’m not saying you need to be Pollyanna. But a little happiness never hurt anyone, right!?
If you frame your thoughts positively and find gratitude, even in the most difficult times, you may be surprised by the results. When we take the time to look up from our own problems, we see others who need support and encouragement. And this widens our circle of influence and love. And gives us more opportunities to share what we’re learning on life’s journey.
It’s a beautiful circle of life, isn’t it?
When we’re intentional about keeping a positive mindset, it can actually add years to our life. One study found a correlation between feelings of happiness and increased longevity. (24)
One of my favorite verses that gives me perspective when I need it the most is
“The joy of the Lord is my strength.”Nehemiah 8:10
This verse reminds me that even when I don’t feel joyous or have energy, I can lean on Him. His joy fills me and makes me stronger.
Do you have a favorite verse, song, or mantra that gives you joy in life? Or helps you focus and gives your life clarity and meaning?
Books About Longevity
I’ve read a number of books over the years about how to increase your lifespan and narrowed my favorites down to these:
1. The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner
This book comes with a lifestyle method that blends personal experience with longevity research to inspire lasting behavioral change and add years to your life.
2. Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman, MD
The Eat To Live 2011 revised edition includes updated scientific research that supports Dr. Fuhrman’s plan and new information about food addiction. Plus, new recipes, FAQs, and meal plans.
3. The Okinawa Program by Bradley Willcox, DDS, and Craig A. Willcox PhD
Dr. Willcox spent a lot of time studying the Okinawans who live on one of the smallest islands in Japan but have a lower rate of heart disease than anywhere else in the world. They also live longer and have a lower rate of dementia than their Japanese counterparts.
4. The Blue Zones Solution by Dan Buettner
This book is written similarly to The Blue Zones but dives into more detail about specific ways that you can incorporate the principles into your life.
5. Prescription For Dietary Wellness by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
This book is a comprehensive encyclopedia of dietary advice. It’s been around for over 20 years and the revised version came out in 2009.
Summary – Healthy Habits To Live Longer
Genetics plays a small role in life expectancy. But, you can develop healthy habits that will lower your risk of disease and help you live longer. Take time to move your body, decrease stress, sleep well, and eat real food. These natural daily practices can make a big difference in your overall health and wellness.
I hope these tips help you live a longer and healthier life.
What habits do you practice that have improved your quality of life?
If you enjoyed these longevity habits to help you live longer you’ll want to check out:
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