Did you know that the average American born in 2013 will have a lifespan nearly four years longer than an American born twenty years ago? Lifespans are increasing over time. In fact, a growing number of people are reaching the centennial mark, and you could be one of them. These 11 tips might help you reach your one-hundredth birthday.
1. Smile. Smiling releases feel-good and stress-reducing endorphins and decreases your body's cortisol. This combination makes you feel better and strengthens the immune system. Let those laugh lines tell a story in your old age.
2. Don't stress. The saying "stress kills" exists for a reason. Stress can add inches to the belly, which in turn brings a myriad of health problems. It also interrupts your sleep cycle and causes high blood pressure. Aside from the numerous health issues stress causes, it’s just downright no fun to be around someone that’s constantly a ticking time bomb.
3. Exercise. Exercise is proven to lower the risk of heart disease and obesity, thus reducing the risk of life-shortening diabetes and cancer. Physical activity can also improve the function of the liver, heart, bones, and other body systems. To me, there would be nothing cooler than being one of those little old ladies in the newspaper at the age of 98 because she takes daily walks around the neighborhood, and is still healthy and kicking.
4. Take care of your brain. Read books, play brain games, memorize verses--do anything to keep yourself learning. A strong, healthy mind is crucial to long life. Haven’t you ever noticed how quick witted some elderly can still be? That’s the proof of a strong mind.
5. Eat well. Fruits and vegetables go without saying, but did you know that consuming more omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish), healthy fats, spices, and even a glass or two of wine per day can improve your chances of longevity? Drink plenty of water, too; the benefits of proper hydration are endless.
6. Get enough sleep, but not too much. Studies show that people who sleep less than six hours per night or more than nine hours have a lower life expectancy than those who get optimum sleep.
7. Indulge yourself. While a healthy lifestyle will increase your lifespan, an obsessive healthy lifestyle may decrease it. If desserts and salty snacks offer you pleasure, then there's no reason why you shouldn't treat yourself now and then. Pleasure is vital to the body's well-being. Besides, what fun is it to say you lived to be 100 but never enjoyed life while you were at it.
8. Take care of your teeth. Brush and floss regularly; unhealthy teeth can contribute to dementia, stroke, or heart disease. If hereditary gum disease or tooth decay run in your family, get those suckers out asap!
9. Be happy. Enjoy your life; be optimistic and positive. Don't grow old begrudgingly. A study showed that adults who embraced their age lived an average of seven years longer than those who didn't. However, if the Scrooge personality appeals to you, be prepared for a lonely centennial birthday.
10. Don't be alone. Humans are social animals by nature, and being surrounded by family and friends can decrease the risk of depression, which is a leading cause of death. Even a friend in the form of a household pet will lower stress and blood pressure. Make sure you take time for some memories with your grandkids. They are sure to keep you entertained for hours!
11. Work. A hard-working person has a work-hard mentality, which is very healthy for the body. Inactivity can result in depression or a lack of meaning in life, which in turn can cause premature death. Develop hobbies, clean your house, work in the garden, or do something else that you love.
Nothing can guarantee you will live past 100. These tips, however, will certainly help you live the longest, healthiest, and most fulfilling life you possibly can. Make an adventure out of it and find yourself some 100 year olds to interview and get their take on life. Here's to many more birthdays!
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