We’re all creatures of habit, but the habits we have shape way more than just how we feel. New research from Harvard shows that following these simple habits can add years to your life. The average lifespan for a man and woman is 72 and 75 years, respectively. If you incorporate these habits, you can add anywhere from 10 to 14 years with the average being 12 years for men and 14 years for women. None of these habits should come as a surprise, but are pretty simple to focus on and incorporate into your daily life.
Habits to add a decade
- Eating healthy
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Not smoking
- Moderate alcohol consumption
To dive further into these, what does eating healthy look like? With so many diets out there, I’m actually going to say don’t diet. Instead, focus on eating a variety of foods, with the main focus being on whole foods. Avoiding or lessening processed foods will do wonders. For me, I like to track my food to hold myself accountable on what I’m eating. But to be honest, I cheat on the weekends. It would be very hard to eat clean 100% of the time, so instead I try to focus on eating well for at least 5 days a week, if not more. But Saturday comes around and it’s Cinco de Mayo, I’m gonna get those tacos.
Exercising regularly is also kind of vague. Most people hear regularly and think at least 3-4 times a week. I hear it and I think active lifestyle, where there’s no true “rest” day. For me, I focus on working out at least 5 times a week. That’s where I’m in the gym doing strength training and/or a high-intensity interval training (cardio) 5 times a week. Outside of these workouts? I’m walking, practicing yoga, running outside, staying active. I don’t really have a rest day, even on Sundays I make it a point to get to 12,000 steps minimum. Even something little is more than zero, so focus on being active and moving everyday.
Maintaining a healthy body weight can be misleading. So many people focus on the number on the scale, but I challenge everyone to instead focus on their body fat percentage. It’s proven with less fat, there’s less stress on our heart, organs, and bones. But your weight may not go all the way down if you’re building muscle. Actually, something crazy happened to me. I lost about 12 pounds to get down to 19% body fat. Then I gained about 5 pounds in muscle. While I still have that lower body fat, technically my weight is on the higher end of ideal. But I look and feel great, and my clothes are big on me.
Not smoking is straight-forward but when people hear smoking they think cigarettes. Smoking also includes cigars and marijuana. So next time you light up, think about the years you’re cutting off of your life. Is it worth it?
Moderate alcohol consumption can be misunderstood. What it means is up to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. So when you go out for St. Patrick’s Day and have ten drinks, that’s not moderate. And research shows it’s healthier and better to have one drink a day rather than drink seven drinks on one night a week. Spread out the booze and you’ll live longer.
Do you incorporate these habits in your life?