From Taking time to laugh to trying new things—these are a few of the top tips you may not know about that can help you live a longer, healthier life.
When it comes to our health, it seems our friends may be one of our best assets for fighting off mortality. An analysis of almost 150 studies published in PLoS Medicine found that people with stronger personal relationships were far more likely to outlive their lonely counterparts. Researchers looked at information on more than 300,000 individuals who were followed for an average of 7.5 years and they said the health risk that comes with being socially disconnected was as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even more dangerous than being obese.
“Sleep is something everyone needs, but takes for granted,” said Dr. Carolyn Dean, author and medical director for the Nutritional Magnesium Association. “Sleep rejuvenates and repairs and is vital to living a longer, healthier life.” From athletics to appetite, and cognitive function to disease prevention, getting the right amount of quality sleep is crucial for maintaining almost every aspect of your health.
“A good ‘belly laugh’ is probably one of the most healing experiences a person can have,” said Lisa Bahar, a licensed marriage and family therapist and a licensed professional clinical counselor. Research on the subject of laughter shows other positive side effects—better memory, less stress and perhaps even improved cardiovascular health, to name a few.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a type of eating schedule that has garnered a lot of attention in recent years and preliminary research suggests it might help with health and longevity. Early research suggests IF may help reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer and improve insulin resistance.
“Remove as many little messes from your life as possible. By cleaning your life up, you will clear your cluttered mind. Make a list of the stresses that prevent you from moving freely through your day and come up with solutions for cleaning them up. These will be things such as: automating your bill payment, clearing out your closets of all the clothes you haven't worn for two years, shredding all the statements and paperwork you don't need anymore, removing the clutter from your kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Eliminating these distractions and messes from your life is like untangling a knot inside of you,” said David Richman, an entrepreneur, speaker, philanthropist, cyclist and the author of Winning in the Middle of the Pack. “As a result, you'll think clearer, sleep better, be more efficient, deal with the big issues that need your attention and lighten your load overall. Removing the clutter will reduce your stress and minimizing stress will help you live healthier.”
“Not drinking enough water can be as harmful to your heart as smoking,” said Dr. Jacqueline Chan the lead researcher and author of the study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Chan and her team of researchers at Loma Linda University found that drinking five or more glasses of water per day significantly lowered the risk of suffering a fatal heart attack in both men and women.
“Year after year, we hear from centenarians (people over 100 years old) that there is a correlation between healthy aging and a healthy mindset,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. In fact, in the annual poll, a quarter of the centenarians surveyed said that keeping a positive attitude is the most important factor in staying healthy. “It’s a good reminder for us all to take care of our mental, emotional and social health—in addition to our physical health.”
“There is no question that the most important thing other than ‘moving’ is mindset, attitude and spirit. It's how you think when you get up in the morning and go to bed in the evening. You also must be active in learning new things, developing hobbies and getting involved in new endeavors,” said Dr. Gayle Carson, who works with seniors on reinventing themselves. Carson is also an entrepreneur and founder of the SOB (Spunky, Open and Brave) Clubs. “All of that keeps you interested and interesting.”
“No matter how you choose to name it—meditation, concentration, reflection, or deliberation—spend dedicated time each day exploring your internal voice,” said David Richman, an entrepreneur, speaker, philanthropist, cyclist and the author of Winning in the Middle of the Pack. “Set time aside each day and concentrate on three things: 1) something you are thankful for, 2) something you are going to accomplish, or have accomplished today and 3) positive reinforcing thoughts about your goals. Try to focus on each thought without distraction. Keep your mood and outlook positive. Meditation will help empower you, reduce your stress, and allow you focus on the meaningful things in your life.”