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When you are young, you don’t think about your health. Many youth and older people aren’t all that concerned with how today’s habits affect them tomorrow or down the road. We all need to take responsibility for our own health behaviors now, especially in a time when we are at risk of contracting and potentially dying from COVID-19. So please consider how all the things you’re doing today can and will have an impact on your health, both now and in the future. With that in mind, here are a few important behaviors based on some research that are linked to a healthy life and living longer. Clearly, they are not exhaustive, but certainly can make a difference if practiced.

One of the most fun and easiest things we can do to live longer is laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine. In fact, according to a 2003 study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, laughing decreases stress-related hormone levels in the body and increases the number of immunity-boosting activated T cells needed to fight diseases and infections. Just thinking about something happy was enough to boost mood, banish anxiety, and increase feelings of safety and security. What’s more, studies such as this one published in the journal Age and Ageing have found that older individuals who are happy tend to live longer. According to Harvard Medical School, a series of studies confirmed that being a “glass-half-full” kind of person is associated with increased longevity. So above all laugh and be happy and you will be healthier and live longer.

As you age, it’s important to ensure that you exercise and by exercising consistently you can help fight disease. So, to maintain your stamina, make sure that all of your exercises make you actually work. One study showed that exercising with motivational music actually made it more intense, enjoyable, and ultimately more valuable. Even biking and swimming reduce mortality rates.

Drinking green tea extends your life. According to a 2015 study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, polyphenols are the micronutrients found in green tea actually block something called VEGF, a signaling molecule in the body that triggers plaque buildup in the arteries and can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and vascular disease. In addition, drinking coffee in moderation every day can lower your risk for diabetes, liver damage, cancer, and depression based on a 2018 study published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases

To keep your cholesterol levels low and your heart healthy, build your meals around protein sources like turkey, chicken, salmon, and plants, all of which won’t clog up your arteries like red meats. Also, using olive oil on your salads lowers blood sugar levels based on a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The combination of unsaturated fatty acids from olive oil mixed with the nitrites from lettuce can increase health. Another food habit where we have handy junk food items such as candy, cupcakes, and potato chips around all the time lessens the opportunity to eat healthy foods. However, if you get into the healthy habit of eating nuts or protein bars, then you’ll never again have to worry about eating empty calories.

Aside from being a tasty treat, apple juice can also assist in the prevention of dementia. In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers found that drinking two glasses of apple juice per day was associated with the breakup of plaques in the brain that typically lead to dementia.

The higher a persons BMI, the higher their risk of mortality. In a 2017 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers found that a traditional diet of a big breakfast like a King, a moderate lunch like a Prince, and a small dinner like a Pauper was most effective when it came to shedding pounds, curbing cravings, controlling insulin levels and living longer.

Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day isn’t just a crucial habit for visibility. According to a study published in the Journal of Dental Sciences, poor oral hygiene can have a negative impact on all aspects of your health and in some instances it can result in a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke. To ensure that you live as long as possible, listen to your dentist and keep your teeth in shape.

Too busy to take time out of your schedule to meditate for an hour every day? That’s fine, all it takes to reap the benefits of this ancient practice is 10 minutes, according to 2017 research from Leeds Beckett University. Evidently, people who meditate for this amount of time daily are better able to handle pain and require less pain medication in times of distress.

Whether you’re volunteering at the local soup kitchen or planting trees to promote the health of the environment, your good deeds can also do good things for your health. In a 2012 study published in the journal Health Psychology, researchers found that people who volunteered for a good cause had a lower mortality risk over a four-year period.

Consider having a pet because according to a study published in the journal Circulation, owning a pet can reduce your heart disease risk and if you have heart disease, a pet can increase your chances of survival.

In this day and age, making time for family and friend’s meals is no easy feat. However, if living a long and healthy life is your top priority, then you’ll want to try your best to gather everyone together as often as possible and socialize without cell phones. One 2018 study published in the journal Preventive Medicine found that these familial meals reduced stress and anxiety levels. Plus, they also resulted in more frequent consumption of nutritious fruits and vegetables.

A 2012 report from the National Center for Health Statistics found that those who earned a bachelor’s degree lived nine years longer than those who only completed high school. So knowledge isn’t just power, it’s a matter of life or earlier death.  And, you’re never too old to learn.  Keep your mind in shape to help live longer.

According to a 2017 study published in the journal BioScience, people who live in areas with many birds, shrubs, and trees are less likely to be stressed, depressed, and anxious. Therefore, the more nature around you, the healthy you can be and the longer you can live.

Not only are naps restorative, but one oft-cited 2007 study of 24,000 subjects published in The Archives of Internal Medicine found that just three 30-minute naps per week reduced the risk of heart-related death by 37 percent. But getting too much sleep is just as bad as getting too little sleep as far as your brain is concerned. In fact, a 2015 study published by the American Academy of Neurology, has revealed a link between a longer duration of sleep and a shorter lifespan.

A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation found that increased flexibility can lead to a longer life. So, if you want to keep your balance and do not fall, then the Cleveland Clinic recommends standing on each leg for 10 seconds at a time along with other balance and strengthening techniques.

Having a healthful and happy life really is as simple as believing that you deserve to. When Australian researchers analyzed data from 757 patients in their 2001 study, they found that individuals with positive self-esteem had greater qualities of life and greater overall feelings of happiness. Practicing all of these very simple approaches will add years to life and “Life to Years.”

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