Simple Ways to Increase Longevity & Promote Healthy Habits

Posted By on August 22, 2022

Longevity may seem like something out of your control, but that’s not entirely true. While genetics and medical history play an obvious factor, some habits backed by science can increase life expectancy!

HarborChase Senior Living has independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities throughout the United States, and we want you to live a longer, healthier life. Following these tips may not only increase longevity but improve your overall quality of life. 

It’s Not Too Late to Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Don’t think that it’s too late to make a lifestyle change. All of your cards have not been dealt! The changes you make now can have a lasting effect on the length and quality of your life. Healthy practices like exercise, eating balanced meals, and putting a stop to unhealthy habits can increase longevity at any age.

1. Physical Health Activities

Unsurprisingly, physical health activities are one of the ways to increase longevity. However, overexertion and strenuous activities are not needed; it can be as simple as stretching or walking. As few as 15 minutes of physical activity per day may help you achieve benefits, which could include an additional three years of life! Exercising more than 150 minutes per week is ideal, but even small amounts can help.

Beyond increased longevity, a recent National Institute on Aging (NIA) funded study showed a direct correlation between physical activity, motor abilities, and better cognition – even amongst those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Furthermore, previous studies have shown that exercising can help older adults heal faster from injuries.

Having a balanced exercise routine is essential to making progress and increasing longevity. Four types of exercise promote healthy movement: flexibility, balance, aerobic endurance, and strength training. This can be as simple as trying yoga to improve flexibility and balance, walking to improve aerobic endurance, or a chair exercise class to maintain strength. It doesn’t have to be complex, but all four types of exercise are necessary. 

Sometimes staying motivated is the biggest hurdle when it comes to physical activity. There are a few easy and effective ways to combat discouragement:

  • Work out with a Friend – A partner can keep you accountable (and have more fun!)
  • Set S.M.A.R.T. goals – Come up with a few goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. You will have something to work toward every day!
  • Keep Track of Your Progress – Write down your accomplishments as they occur. 
  • Reward Yourself – Plan something fun after your workout to look forward to and motivate you.

Exercise also produces feel-good chemicals in your brain, like endorphins and serotonin. Even small amounts of movement each day can set you up for physical and emotional success! 

Don’t let your body retire when you do. Exercise is a vital part of increasing longevity. Physical activity has been shown to prevent disease, reduce the risk of falls, and improve mental wellness. It is not too late to start working toward a lifestyle that includes daily physical activity.

2. Eat Smart: The Mediterranean Diet + Longevity Foods

Nutrition plays a significant role in overall health and well-being, and is another one of the ways to increase longevity.

Creating healthy eating habits, as well as dialing in macro and micronutrients, are key to maintaining a healthy physiological status. Macronutrients include the nutritive parts of food that give the body energy – protein, carbohydrates, and fat. 

  • Protein gives our body structure and helps to maintain muscle. Examples include meat, lentils and beans, nuts, and whole grains.
  • Carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel. For example, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products include healthy carbohydrates.
  • Fats store energy and protect our organs. The best fat sources include fatty fish, nuts, and healthy oils like olive or avocado oil.

As you age, eating meals that contain all three is essential. 

Micronutrients, which are the vitamins and minerals found in food, are also important. Taking a daily multivitamin can help fill the gaps where your diet might be lacking. 

The Mediterranean diet is the gold standard when it comes to longevity. The combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods within the Mediterranean diet provide a fantastic way to stay healthy and get the necessary intake of vitamins and nutrients. There are plenty of ingredients within the Mediterranean diet, but here are a few you can easily incorporate into your weekly meals:

  • Blueberries: Rich in fiber, vitamin C and B6, folate, and antioxidants. Blueberries are a longevity food that can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Apples: Rich in fiber, vitamin C, and soluble fiber, apples are a longevity food that can reduce your risk of heart disease and aid your digestive system.
  • Whole grains: Packed with fiber and nutrients, whole grains can lower the risk of stroke and heart disease. They support healthy digestion and reduce chronic inflammation.
  • Nuts: Rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds. They’re also a great source of several vitamins and minerals, such as copper, magnesium, potassium, folate, and niacin.

These are just a few foods linked to longevity, but there are plenty more that can provide additional vitamins and combat the development of certain conditions. HarborChase Senior Living is focused on celebrating healthy aging. In addition, our communities offer world-class cuisine centered around health, nutrition, culture, and experience. 

3. Kick Bad Habits to the Curb

There is no age limit when it comes to developing unhealthy habits. Getting rid of bad habits now can significantly improve your health and even reduce the damage done in earlier years. The good news? Bad habits are completely within your control to change.

Common unhealthy habits found in older adults include:

  • Smoking: According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, if you had to choose one factor to increase longevity, quitting smoking should be it. Smoking damages coronary arteries and lungs and increases the risk of cancer and stroke. 
  • Eating late at night: Taking in extra calories before bed can lead to weight gain as well as impaired sleep. It is recommended to have your last meal of the day 2-3 hours before you go to bed for optimal rest and recovery. 
  • Avoiding walking activities: A sedentary lifestyle can lead to poor mobility, balance, and endurance. Make it a priority to schedule activities that require physical movement to increase longevity and keep yourself active for as long as possible. 

Mental Health Matters

Giving special attention to mental, emotional, and social wellness can impact longevity just as much as physical health. 

1. Emotional and Social Wellness

Research shows that being optimistic about the aging process can positively impact your quality of life and even how long you will live. For example, a study including more than 70,000 people found that an optimistic attitude was directly linked to an 11% increase in longevity and 15% greater odds of living to 85 or older. 

Social interaction is another important factor in increasing longevity. According to the NIA, recent research shows a direct correlation between social interaction and health. Even studies dating back to 2008 show positive health benefits of socialization. Having friends to talk to, social gatherings, or group activities to participate in can improve your mental health, thus aiding in increasing your longevity. Researchers state that maintaining healthy social networks can help you live up to 50% longer!

These are just three habits that may boost your health and put you on the path to a long life! HarborChase Senior Living communities promote social wellness by connecting our residents with engaging activities that encourage social interactivity.

2. Take Care of Your Brain

There are many ways to keep your mind sharp and healthy. The brain stays quick and agile when it encounters and solves new problems. As long as you continue to take on new challenges and learn new things, the brain will continue to create neural connections as you age. These new connections will ensure your brain stays fit for as long as possible. 

Fear of memory loss is significant for many. Fortunately, there are ways to delay the onset of memory loss and keep your brain sharp (many of which were mentioned in this article). Learning new things, eating a healthy diet, and keeping physically active can slow memory loss as you age. Switching up your daily routine, trying a new hobby, and moving out of your mental “comfort zone” are more options to keep your brain engaged.  

The brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. The best thing you can do to increase mental longevity is approach each day with intellectual curiosity. While it can be uncomfortable at times, learning new things can be fun!

Take a Preventative Approach

Harnessing control of your health will ultimately help you live a longer and fuller life. 

1. Understand Your Medical Care

Studies have found that having a “high health literacy” – defined in one study as “the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make basic health decisions” – can help you live longer compared to those who are poorly informed about their health. 

Don’t be afraid to ask your care provider in-depth questions and take time to fully research and understand your health conditions fully. 

2. Continue Getting Tested

A big part of preventative medicine includes stopping illnesses in their tracks. Sometimes, this is only possible if you detect them early.  Ask your doctor about which screenings are right for you, and make it a priority to schedule them in a timely manner. Early intervention can save your or a loved one’s life. 

3. Use Your Time Productively

Retirement is a great time to have fun and do the things you love, and offers new ways to increase longevity. Filling up your day with plenty of activities will ensure you are never bored. However, if you’re not careful, you might fall into a bad habit of filling your day with TV or other sedentary activities. 

As you age, using free time to try healthy new activities, prioritize doctor’s appointments, or tackle a new hobby is a great way to stay healthy and active. Getting ahead of the game with your health is the key to living a long, healthy, and happy life. 

Increasing longevity will not happen overnight. It requires many intentional changes and working toward a long life of health and happiness with friends and family. Use these tips as an outline for success, and put yourself on the path to a long life!

HarborChase communities offer independent living, assisted living, and memory care and promote social wellness by connecting residents with engaging activities, social interactivity, and the tools they need to succeed in living a long, fulfilling life. We invite you to visit our website and find a HarborChase community near you!