Do you eat breakfast everyday? Do you always take the stairs? Whatever your daily habits are, there’s no denying that they impact your health. Even though the things we do as part of our daily routines might seem small, over time the small things can add up. So, by keeping your daily habits healthy, you can literally add years to your life.
Here are six daily habits for living longer.
1. Always opt for exercise
Technology exists to make our lives easier, but it doesn't always make us healthier. Daily exercise, however, is a definite boon to health. In fact, studies suggest that daily exercise can add up to three years to your life. Although finding time for structured exercise can be pretty much impossible for many guys, the good news is that opportunity for exercise is everywhere — just be creative.
Whenever you can, walk to work. You don’t even have to walk the whole way. If you take public transit, just get off a few blocks sooner and enjoy a stroll. If you live or work in a high-rise building, just take the stairs. It’s really that simple.
Slideshow: 9 Ways to Live Longer
2. Eat a healthy breakfast
Including breakfast in your daily routine is a great healthy habit for living longer. Over the years, researchers have found that those who eat an early morning meal are less likely to be obese and get diabetes compared with those who don’t. Breakfast-eaters also report feeling better both mentally and physically. All in all, it seems that eating breakfast is a great and healthy way to start your day. To get the full benefits of breakfast, though, the Mayo Clinic recommends a meal with carbs, protein and a small amount of fat. The key is to keep your meals varied to ensure you get a good mix of nutrients, so spice up your breakfast diet every once in a while.
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3. Get enough sleep
A lack of quality sleep can shorten your life. At least that’s the conclusion drawn from a number of studies conducted over the past decade. Although it’s not entirely clear how many hours of sleep we really need, failing to get at least seven hours of sleep or only sleeping at odd hours appears to heighten the risk of major illnesses including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
But it’s not just a lack of sleep that can be dangerous; a lack of relaxation can leave a lasting mark as well. We all know that stress and anxiety are killers, and so it follows that finding ways to relax each day can be a lifesaver. Whether it’s classical music, massage therapy or meditation, whatever you use to relax will most certainly add years to your life. It may even help you sleep better.
4. Brush and floss daily
Flossing can add 6.4 years to your life, says Dr. Michael Roizen in his book The RealAge Makeover. Although that estimate might be a little far-fetched, the thinking behind it is probably pretty sound. The reality is that poor oral hygiene can lead to nasty gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. These inflammatory diseases can actually lead to a narrowing of the arteries, a common cause of cardiovascular disease. By simply brushing and flossing daily, we rid our mouths of the bacteria that cause inflammatory gum disease and save our heart a little bit of trouble.
5. Stay in touch with friends
There’s an old saying that says a good friend is cheaper than therapy. Oddly enough, researchers now hold this to be true, though it’s not just about friends; any social network, whether it be through church, a sports club or cooking class, can positively impact your physical and mental well-being.
Social networks can provide us with useful information, like encouragement to go see a doctor; they can give physical support, like helping us run errands; and they can provide emotional support, like listening to our problems to help us overcome depression and anxiety. All of these seemingly minor perks can literally add years to our lives.
6. Stay hydrated
Our bodies are nearly 70% water, so it should come as no surprise that water is essential to maintaining health and prolonging life. We use water to regulate body temperature, protect our joints and organs, and to help transport oxygen to cells. But in order for water to keep our bodies in check, we need to make sure that its levels are constantly replenished. The solution is simple: hydrate.
Although the common prescription of drinking eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day has been called a myth, the message isn’t necessarily a bad one. As long as you hydrate frequently, from various sources, not just water, you’re probably in the clear. Let your thirst be your guide and drink to life!
Making Daily Habits Count
Many of us are set in our daily routines. We eat the same meal, wear the same clothes, take the same route to work, and work the same old job. But what we sometimes fail to recognize is the huge impact that our daily routines can have on our health. By making just a few small changes here and there — and sticking to them — you can add a significant number of years to your life. Although change isn’t always easy, it can be done. Set small goals, ease in changes one at a time and it won’t be long before you notice a positive change to your health and mood.