How long you live may seem like simply a matter of fate, luck, your genes or divine intervention. Those may well be important factors in your longevity, but recent research has found that people who live longer, healthier lives tend to make similar lifestyle choices.

“Research shows that genes account for less than one-third of your chances of surviving to age 85. The vast majority of variation in how old we live is due to our health behaviors,” said Dr. Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study at the Boston University School of Medicine, in a report from the National Institutes of Health. “Our genes could get most of us close to the remarkable age of 90 if we lead a healthy lifestyle.”

As you reach your middle-age years, you may begin thinking about what you can do to help increase your chances of sticking around longer. These seven lifestyle tips may help boost longevity and add up to a real difference. They also will help you look and feel your best as you grow older.

1. Maintain muscle with protein and strength training.

As we enter middle-age and beyond, it’s natural for our bodies to gradually lose muscle mass, a condition known as sarcopenia. According to Harvard Health Publishing, muscle loss occurs at a rate of 1-2% per year starting at age 35, and accelerates to around 3% per year after 60.

Preserving muscle mass is crucial for a healthy metabolism and overall well-being. Muscle loss can lead to weakness, impaired balance, and increased risk of falls and fractures. It also hampers recovery from illness and injury.

Factors contributing to sarcopenia, besides aging, include obesity, sedentary lifestyle, inadequate protein intake and certain chronic diseases like diabetes. Insufficient protein intake, combined with calorie restriction and lack of resistance training during weight loss, can further diminish muscle mass.

Age-related anabolic resistance makes it harder for the body to break down and build new proteins. Thus, consuming sufficient protein becomes essential for preserving and building muscle as we age. Scientific studies recommend evenly spaced protein intake throughout the day, with 20 to 30 grams per meal, to promote muscle synthesis.

In addition to protein intake, resistance training or muscle-strengthening exercises offer numerous health benefits, especially for adults over 50. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), resistance training increases anabolic hormones, vital for muscle repair during workouts. They explain further, “Regardless of your age, strength training can help your body become more efficient at producing the hormones that help build and repair muscle.”

Regular exercise not only helps combat sarcopenia but also reduces the risk of age-related conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis. If a busy schedule prevents a continuous 30-minute exercise session, three 10-minute sessions can provide equally favorable results. Prioritize your muscles to age gracefully and stay strong!

2. Fight inflammation by getting enough sleep.

woman waking up from good sleep

Leading an active lifestyle not only delivers physical advantages but also improves the quality of your sleep, which plays a critical role in maintaining optimal health. According to Harvard Health, individuals who suffer from poor sleep are at a higher risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Research has shown that even a single night of sleep deprivation can have negative effects on the body, including increased inflammation associated with health issues. “The findings suggest a good night’s sleep can ease the risk of both heart disease and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis,” explains ScienceDaily.

Prioritizing regular exercise and sufficient sleep can have multiple positive implications for your well-being, helping you lead a healthier and more energized life.

3. Quit smoking to avoid a higher risk of health problems.

Woman brakes cigarette in hands.

Many individuals who smoke are often reluctant to quit smoking due to concerns about potential weight gain, ultimately opting to continue despite the associated risks. However, it is important to recognize the strong correlation between smoking and life-shortening health problems such as cancer, heart disease and chronic lung conditions.

Fortunately, there is good news for those looking to break free from this harmful habit. In today’s world, there are numerous resources available to provide support and assistance in your journey towards a smoke-free life. These resources include safe products and proven treatments, all designed to help you overcome the challenges associated with quitting smoking. Moreover, it’s worth noting that starting a supportive weight loss plan, such as Nutrisystem, can be the solution for shedding any extra pounds that may be gained along the way.

By taking advantage of these resources and incorporating them into your journey, you can empower yourself to break free from smoking’s grip and embrace a healthier, smoke-free future. Remember, your well-being is worth the effort, and there is ample support available to help you every step of the way.

4. Eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.

person slicing vegetables on a cutting board

An extensive investigation spanning three decades has shed light on the profound impact of healthy eating patterns. This study revealed a remarkable finding; those who followed any of the four identified eating patterns experienced a commendable 20 percent decrease in the risk of premature death.

Individuals who diligently followed these patterns, which emphasized consuming abundant whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, also displayed a lower likelihood of succumbing to ailments such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory illnesses and neurodegenerative conditions.

Simply consuming fewer calories also appears to be correlated with longevity, according to a recent report, published by the National Institute on Aging. It’s important to eat the right balance of nourishing foods while ensuring healthy portion sizes. By adopting this holistic approach, one can achieve not only lose weight but also unlock the potential for a longer, more fulfilling life.

5. Find a healthy way to relieve stress.

Man hiking in nature to relieve stress

As you age, it’s common for worries to accumulate, leading to a constant state of stress. The body’s response to stress involves the release of hormones necessary for reacting to immediate threats. However, chronic stress can have long-term detrimental effects, as highlighted in a study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

The study reveals that stress-related inflammation has been associated with various health conditions, including insomnia, late-life depression, anxiety, cognitive decline and even Alzheimer’s disease.

To combat the negative impact of stress, engaging in any form of exercise has proven effective in relieving stress levels. Additionally, many individuals have found mindfulness activities like meditation or tai chi particularly beneficial in reducing stress. There are many other natural ways to help relieve stress, such as spending time in nature, petting your dog and even eating certain types of foods.

By prioritizing stress management and incorporating these techniques into your routine, you can proactively safeguard your well-being and promote a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.

6. Foster social connections to overcome loneliness.

exercise bike class

Your relationships with your family and friends play a vital role in not just your happiness, but also your overall health and longevity. One study, published in the The Journals of Gerontology, revealed that persistent loneliness was associated with a staggering 57 percent increased risk of early death compared to those who never experienced loneliness. Additionally, individuals who were socially isolated faced a 28 percent increased risk.

As we age, it’s common to experience changes in our social circles. The loss of old friends, family members growing up and moving away, and transitioning out of the workforce can leave us feeling isolated. However, it’s important to actively seek out new connections and engage in social activities to maintain our well-being.

Consider joining exercise classes, social clubs, faith-based groups and other organizations. These activities not only provide opportunities to meet new people but also offer a sense of belonging and purpose.

Remember, nurturing and expanding your social network is not just beneficial for your mental and emotional well-being, but it can also contribute to a longer and healthier life.

7. Stay positive for a longer lifespan or better emotional health.

person journaling positivity

According report from the National Institute on Aging, the power of your mind extends beyond your thoughts and emotions—it directly impacts your health and longevity. The report highlights the findings of two studies, revealing that optimism is not only linked to a longer lifespan in women, but also to better emotional health in older men. These remarkable results suggest that increasing optimism may hold the key to extending lifespan and improving overall well-being in older adults.

So how can you cultivate the habit of optimism in your own life? By consciously reminding yourself about all that is good in your life. For instance, if you’re currently on a weight loss journey with Nutrisystem, take a moment to celebrate and appreciate the healthy food choices you make each day. Instead of fixating on how much further you have to go to reach your goal, focus on the progress you’ve already made.

By making a conscious effort to foster optimism, you not only have the potential to extend your life, but also to infuse each day with more joy and fulfillment. Embrace the power of a positive mindset and watch as your health and well-being flourish.

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