4 Healthy Habits for a Happier, Longer Life

By on July 24, 2014
mature woman lifting hand weights

The life expectancy of the average American continues to rise, with the latest data revealing that a person born in the U.S. in 2009 can expect to live to 78.5, increasing from 78.1 just the year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of course, many Americans are living well past the age of 78—if you hope to be one of them, consider incorporating these healthy habits into your lifestyle, and you might live a lengthier, happier life.

Exercise Regularly

Talk about a huge payoff, for every minute you exercise, you could lengthen your life by as much as seven minutes, according to Dr. I-Min Lee of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her data revealed that a person who is of middle age and gets the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, can expect to get seven extra minutes of life for every minute they spend exercising. More strenuous activities like jogging doubles the effect.

In addition to potentially lengthening your life, regular physical activity improves the quality of your life, leading to greater overall happiness. As exercise triggers endorphins, otherwise known as “happy hormones,” this naturally strengthens immunity, reduces the perception of pain, and even boosts self-esteem as well as improving one’s mood. Of course, it also offers a multitude of other benefits like helping to prevent heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Develop a Positive Attitude

Happier people live longer and enjoy better health, according to a comprehensive review of 160 studies published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Researchers found that a positive mood reduces stress-related hormones, improves immune function, and speeds healing. Chronic anger and depression have the opposite effect.

Practicing meditation and relaxation is one of the best ways to transform your attitude while also offering numerous health benefits. It can help you to gain a new perspective and manage symptoms of many health conditions like anxiety, high-blood pressure, depression, pain, insomnia, and even cancer. There are many different types of meditation, but they all share the same goal of achieving inner peace and reducing stress.

To get started, you may want to find or create a special place where you know you won’t be interrupted, like a sunroom. Add objects that provide inspiration and help make it your own personal, sacred space.

Get the Right Amount of Sleep

Getting the right amount of sleep helps to prevent illness, and it can also increase longevity. A study conducted in Finland published in the journal Sleep, found that adults who slept more than 8 hours per night, or less than 7, had an increased risk of earlier death. If you have trouble sleeping, exercise and meditation can help, but you may also want to consider taking other measures, like wearing an eye mask to block out light and ear plugs to block noise.

Follow a Nutritious Diet

Eating a healthy diet is also an essential factor for living a longer, happy life. Extensive research has shown that it’s one of the most important contributors to longevity. Consume lots of fruits and vegetables, and include foods that contain healthy fats like nuts and seeds, coconut oil, and fish. Avoid processed foods that contain unhealthy fats like trans fats as well as preservatives, artificial ingredients and other potentially harmful substances. Focusing on whole, organic foods derived from the Earth is your best bet for optimal health and longevity.

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4 Healthy Habits for a Happier, Longer Life