Everyone strives to live a long, healthy life. We dream of growing old with our loved ones and aging into our nineties. But your current health habits determine how long (and how well!) you will live in your old age. It’s time to pay attention to five health habits you should and should not keep to ensure you live long and thrive in your later years.
Don’t sit all day long
According to researchers, sitting all day long is one of the most harmful health habits. According to James Levine, Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, “The human body evolved to move around.”
Sitting for prolonged periods of time increases the risk of obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. If you work at a desk and sit for multiple hours each day, it’s important to take a break, stand up, and walk around your office.
Don’t drink too much
Drinking is perfectly healthy in moderation but health experts advise to be careful. They warn not to consume more than five drinks during a single occasion. Women shouldn’t consume more than eight drinks per week, and men shouldn’t consume more than 15 drinks.
Both heavy drinking and frequent binge drinking involve several long-term health risks. This includes cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, dementia, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and other addictions. Be aware of how much you’re drinking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking causes nearly one in five deaths per year in the United States. Smoking-related illnesses, including lung cancer, coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and stroke, kill more people than car accidents, AIDS, firearm-related deaths, alcohol and illegal drug use combined.
For a pack-a-day smoker, each year of smoking causes 150 extra mutations in every lung cell. The more mutations that occur, the more likely those cells will become cancerous. If you currently smoke, try your best to quit now. If you don’t smoke, don’t start the harmful habit.
Don’t skip the sunscreen
You might not think you need to wear sunscreen when you’re outdoors but it’s time to change your mindset. Skin can burn in as little as 15 minutes. According to health experts, the latent damage caused by the sun’s powerful UV light lasts much longer than you think.
Recent research determined that 25 percent of normal skin cells developed mutations after being exposed to sunlight. The more mutations that occur, the more likely those skin cells will become cancerous. It’s best to wear sunscreen to help avoid this harmful risk.
Don’t neglect your mental health
Mental health has become an important topic of discussion in recent years. More individuals are aware of their mental health but they’re still not taking necessary precautions to help their mental health. According to Dr. Seena Fazel at Oxford University, mental health diagnoses are equivalent to smoking 20 or more cigarettes per day.
Take care of your mind, just like you take care of your body. When you break a bone, you seek medical care. It shouldn’t be any different with your mental health. There’s no shame in seeking advice from a therapist.
Do get regular exercise
Instead of sitting all day long, get plenty of exercise. Health experts recommend exercising for at least 30 minutes every day. This could be from a simple workout, like walking, or a more rigorous exercise program. Frequent exercise drops the risk of premature death by about 12 percent.
Health experts also suggest running as a primary form of physical exercise. Running is the most effective exercise, and runners tend to live about three additional years longer than non-runners. You can run for as little as five minutes per day. You might not enjoy the exercise, but it’ll help improve your long-term health.
There are plenty of healthy ways to relax after a long, stressful week. Chronic stress leads to harmful health issues, including high blood pressure, immune system suppression, and increased anxiety and depression.
Health experts recommend simple deep breathing techniques to help relax after a stressful day. Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange. This practice helps slow the heartbeat and lower blood pressure. This could be accomplished in regular yoga exercise or taking active breaks from your daily routine.
Do get plenty of sleep
One of the most harmful health habits is neglecting proper sleep. All of us probably don’t get as much sleep as we should. But long-term, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to health issues, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. Sleep deprivation can also harm the body’s natural ability to regulate hormones, which increases mood swings, hunger, stress, and irregular metabolism.
So, what’s the solution? Get plenty of sleep. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Sleeping less than five hours per night increases your mortality risk by roughly 15 percent. If you haven’t realized it yet, sleep is a necessity.
Do build a social support system
Individuals thrive best when they’re interacting with others. Your blood pressure, metabolism, and stress hormones are affected by your social relationships. People who have positive social relationships generally have lower levels of stress hormones.
It’s important to build strong relationships with others. Groups of about five close friends who are “committed to each other for life” provide a security blanket. Your friends offer emotional support whenever you need it most.
Do find a purpose
You need to find meaning to improve your mental health. Essentially, have a life worth living. People who have a higher sense of purpose are at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Start a new hobby or join a new organization. If you’re not satisfied with your career, be brave enough to change your goals. Those who wake up each morning with clear goals generally live longer than those who feel discouraged. We want to be happy, so make the necessary changes to ensure you’ll live a long, happy life.