7 great habits to adopt for a long, healthy life

Old Couple for illustration (willingheartshelpfulhands)
  • Studies have shown that genetics account for only 25 percent of a person’s longevity. 
  • This means the rest is up to you. That's why it is important to let go of unhealthy behaviours that may be shortening your lifespan.
  • Below is a compilation of five lifestyle changes that will positively impact your health, both now and in the future. 

As mentioned earlier, you play a major role in how long you get to live and how active and vital you get to feel in your later years. 

It all starts with habits and actions you take every day. These seemingly unimportant things healthy lifestyle can either decrease or increase your odds of a longer and more satisfying life span.

Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa has put together a list of five great and easy habits that can be sustained in the long haul:

Start your days with something light 

Having a heavy breakfast is no way to start a productive way. You don't want to be sleeping when you should be working and achieving your daily goals.

This is why you should always start your day with something light and nutritious. One option you could consider is oats, a great source of whole grains which can cut the overall death rate by about 20 per cent, according to a 2016 study from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

You could also go for a salad, either fruit or vegetable is fine, akara/beans cakes or balls (as long as you don't overeat), a small portion of moi moi, also known as bean pudding. Just make sure whatever you choose is light and healthy.

Eat more home-cooked meals

As a young professional living in an urban city like Lagos, Nigeria, I attest to the fact that eating out or ordering in is convenient especially when you consider things like traffic and work.

However, this habit is not great for anyone’s health. Not only is it not doing your waistline any favours, but it is also causing you to spend money that you could be saving for other things. 

Being in control of your meal means you can use healthy ingredients, reduce the risk of food poisoning and regulate the amount of food you serve. It is okay to splurge once in awhile as long as you are eating more home-cooked meals.

Drink more water

You need water to get rid of toxins, improve brain function, energize muscles, control weight gain, balance body temperature and fluids. This natural liquid offers more benefits than soda or alcohol.

You also get to save the money you would have spent on unhealthy alternatives as you improve your health by drinking water throughout the day. An easy way to ensure that you drink enough water is by always carrying a bottle around. This way you don't have to reach for something else.

Don't eat after 9 p.m

According to a Harvard study, eating late increases the risk of heart disease by 55 per cent for men ages 45 to 82. This habit also means you will wake up light not bloated from the late meal you had the previous night.

Get a decent amount of sleep every night

Several studies including those published in the European Heart Journal have found that consistently sleeping for less than six hours a night increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

According to one study, consistently sleep-deprived people are 12 per cent more likely to die over the 25-year study period than those who got six to eight hours of sleep a night. 

So make sure you sleep for at least six hours every night. You can achieve this by creating and sticking to a regular sleep schedule, for instance, you can go to bed by 9 pm and wake up by 5 am every day until your body gets used to it.

Hold on to your faith

One study found that people with AIDS who had “faith in God, compassion toward others, a sense of inner peace, and were religious had a better chance of surviving for a long time than those who did not live with such belief systems.”

Explaining the link between faith and longevity, Bill Fiala, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and professor in APU’s Department of Higher Education said, “Churchgoers tend to engage in positive behaviours including high social interaction and lower rates of alcohol and drug abuse. In addition, religious support and coping are both related to positive outcomes in mental health.”

Researchers generally say that attending religious services once a week can add between four and 14 years to life expectancy.

Exercise exercise exercise

It should go without saying that you have to add exercise to your daily routine. Why? I'm glad you asked. Health.com describes daily exercise as the closest thing to a fountain of youth while a 2008 study found that regular high-intensity exercise (like running) can add up to four years to your life. It also improves your mood, mental alertness and strengthens your body.

Thanks to technology, you don't necessarily have to go to a gym to work out since we now have so many apps that offer daily and monthly plans. You can also do something as quick as a 30-minute walk each day, which can lower your risk of heart problems if apps don't work for you. 

In the words of Marc Gillinov, MD, the chair of the department of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, “90 percent of the risk” of heart disease, which is a major killer, is created by “lifestyle habits and choices.” So change your habits and you just might extend your life.

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