Last week at work, I was both surprised and honored to work with the oldest patient I’ve ever known. An 104-year-old lady who was only 4 ft 10 in tall. Besides her sassy, spunky personality, the first thing that caught my attention was her preserved appearance. It was shocking because she only looked to be in her late 80’s. After working with her and finding out she could bend down and touch her toes, boogie woogie and scare the heck out of me by jumping out of bed without a walker, it got me thinking…
What’s her secret?
Without asking, there were some definite traits that already stuck out. In fact, there were some traits about her that reminded me of some other patients I’d worked with in their mid-late 90’s. It inspired me to do a little research.
What I found was fascinating. The secret on how to live longer didn’t require some secret aging pill or Botox injections. Much of what I researched on how to live longer was totally changeable by the individual – YOU. Interested now?
My 6 Tips on How to Live Longer
1 – Evaluate Your Heart
I’m not talking about calling your cardiologist and scheduling a checkup – I’m talking about evaluating where your true happiness lies. Do you take joy in the little things? Or are you constantly complaining about something? Being positive is by far the most common trait I’ve noticed in everyone >90 yrs. old that I’ve met. It’s astounding. Some of these people can barely see or hear and have no teeth…but they are the happiest (and sometimes funniest) people to spend time with.
I would highly recommend training yourself to think positively, because it really does help you live longer.
The human body is designed to function optimally when in a rested, focused and pleasant state of mind. If you are easily stressed and a “jar-half-empty” kind of person, your health will suffer. Increased levels of depression and anxiety often lead to higher blood pressure levels, heart diseases and mental health disorders.
So if you want to know something you can do to increase your lifespan, start thinking more positively. Thirty years from now your body and mind will thank you.
Struggling with thinking positively? Read Finding Happiness – Unlock Your Inner Magic for easy ways to become a happier person.
2 – Get Off the Couch
The next most important key to adding years to your life is to be active. This sounds like common sense, however making it a habit to exercise 2-3 times a week can sometimes be a challenge. Between family schedules, work, extra-curricular activities and maintaining somewhat of a social life…finding time to be active isn’t easy. Because let’s be honest – going to the gym isn’t always the most exciting thing to do.
However, if you want what’s best for yourself in the long run, exercise is pivotal. You see, when the muscles and organs in our bodies are strengthened over a period of time, it slows the aging process. The same thing happens with our minds. Exercising regularly decreases stress levels, therefore making it easier to maintain a positive attitude. It also helps lower bad cholesterol and body fat percentages, decreasing stress put on our joints. Not to mention it improves the quality of your night’s rest…
Overall, the benefits are endless. If you want to read more about exercise and its benefits, check out Health Benefits of Cardio.
3 – Watch What You Put in Your Mouth
This is another difficult one for many, however it doesn’t have to be! Eating healthy doesn’t take much effort once you develop a good momentum. If you make it a goal right now to eat one – just one – serving of fruits/vegetables per day, then after a month it’s going to start becoming habit. You won’t even think about it because that’s what your body is used to.
Reverse that, and eat donuts for breakfast every day this next month, however, and you’re definitely going to notice a change. It won’t be a good one either. Like the old saying goes…
“Put good in, get good out”
4 – Ditch Bad Habits
For those who smoke or drink excessively, I would highly advise to consider the damage you’re bringing on yourself. It’s a habit that slowly destroys your body. Just take a look inside the cadaver of someone who’s smoked for thirty years. It’s alarming to see the blackened lung tissue. What’s even more alarming is the consequences it brings to the person while they’re still living.
I once worked with a patient who was always very grouchy and never said anything positive. No one enjoyed working with her (including myself regretfully). One late afternoon as we were walking around the empty gym, she began crying. Caught off guard, I didn’t exactly know what to say. The lady suddenly told me how her husband had died from lung cancer a few years ago, and how her only daughter had died from alcohol abuse less than a year later. Ever since then she had fallen into a deep depression, resulting in her grouchy attitude.
Talk about a reality check. I suddenly had a much greater respect for the havoc those bad habits could wreak on someone’s life. It gave me a much greater sympathy toward those struggling with addiction and the family members who were hurt in the process.
Please, please, PLEASE consider not only your health when avoiding these bad habits. Consider the health of your loved ones. This is a tip that can not only save your life, but the well-being of those who care about you.
Need motivation? Read Finding Motivation to Workout
5 – Never Stop Building Hobbies
This is a fun one!
Keeping your mind and body active through activities you enjoy is an excellent way to live longer. It not only maintains existing neuronal pathways in your brain, but it also builds upon them. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Ha! You can improve your brain function and help slow down the aging process tremendously by participating in hobbies you enjoy.
Whether it’s reading, crafting, hiking or cooking – keep it up! The chances that your hobbies will change as you age are high. This doesn’t matter, though, so long as you keep finding new, fun things to enjoy.
6 – Keep Those Relationships
For all those introverts out there, this is for you! Spending quality time with others is important to your health. Studies show that it decreases loneliness, depression and improves your mental well-being. As humans, we were designed to have social interactions. Had God just created Adam to be by himself, what a depressing (and non-existent) society we would be!
Just remember that maintaining and building that communication line – whether through family, friends or even a significant other – can be the source of encouragement you need to extend your lifespan.
Conclusion – Tips for How to Live Longer
Overall, if you’re looking for the secret on how to live longer, these tips are a great place to start! Sure, some people have better genetics than others, but that is something you cannot change. Maintaining good habits, a good attitude and good relationships is something that you can change…
…and it makes a world of a difference!
If you don’t take my word for it, go visit a local nursing home or someone elderly. Spend time with them and observe some of their characteristics. 99 times out of 100, the people who live the longest and most fulfilling lives have a mindset of steel and a good support system of either family and/or friends.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear some ways you have found to promote a longer, healthier life. Comment below with your stories!