12 Tips to a Long Life

How long do you want to live? The oldest person in modern history lived to be 122. The average age of most modern cultures have slowly increased over the last 100 years. Worldwide, the average life expectancy is 71 years for men and 73 years for women.

Japan is number one in life expectancy with an average of 86.2. The United States is 36th with an average of 79.8. You can view the remainder at the World Health Organizations’ report on the following website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy.

I believe most people would like to live a long life as long as they could physically get around and keep their mental capabilities intact. So, what are some things you can do today that can improve your chances of living longer?

A simple search of the web for longevity can reveal numerous studies and opinions. Many of them are in direct conflict with each other. I believe the answer is not overly complicated.

First of all, there is no one thing that is a guarantee at increasing your lifespan. Some people have a genetic advantage in life expectancy. I mentioned this in my previous blog on Telomeres.

A British Medical Journal study found that sitting for 3 hours a day reduced the average life expectancy by 2 years. A JAMA Internal Medicine study concluded that sitting more than 4 hours a day increased the chance of death by 40% over three years compared to sitting less than 3 hours a day.

In a study by Brigham Young University, it was found that people with weak social connections died at much higher rates than those that had strong social connections. The same study concluded that prolonged loneliness was as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Elderly people with a large circle of friends were found to be 22% less likely to die over the study period.

According to an article in The New York Times “every single hour of television watching after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.”

There are several studies that try to estimate the increase of life expectancy with exercise. Most studies will estimate that for every 1 minute of exercise, the life expectancy is increased by 7–8 minutes.

Numerous studies support 7–8 hours of sleep a night to improve longevity. Interestingly, sleeping more than 9 hours is associated with a decrease in potential longevity. Likewise, sleeping under the 5 hours has the same effect.

Depending on the study you read, attending church regularly can increase your life expectancy by 3–7 years.

Laughter is good medicine and can extend your life expectancy. There are many studies that show laughter has a positive effect on blood vessels, hypertension, and the immune system.

There is a strong mind-body connection. A positive attitude can prolong your life. A negative attitude can shorten your life. Many studies look at attitude and patients’ results from various surgeries and medical procedures. There is often a direct connection to positive results with positive attitudes. I know of one surgeon who would cancel a planned surgery if the patient was overly pessimistic about the procedure. He believed attitude was very important.

Married men tend to live longer than single men. No surprise there.

If you live in the “Diabetic Belt,” which interestingly correlates with the “Bible Belt,” you are more likely to develop diabetes and/or have a stroke. There are studies that can correlate the incidence of diabetes to the number of fast food restaurants in a given area. Diabetes can shorten a person’s lifespan by 5–7 years and often is a major contributor to the development of dementia. In fact, Alzheimer’s dementia is now frequently being referred to diabetes type 3.

So, what should you do to improve your chances of living to a good old age and enjoying your golden years? The advice is really simple, and I bet you have heard it before.

  1. Get around 8 hours of sleep a night.
  2. Exercise at a moderate level for around 3 hours a week.
  4. Eat a healthy diet and avoid processed foods. Avoid fast foods. Stop drinkingCoke.
  5. Stop watching so much TV.
  6. If you develop a medical problem, such as diabetes or hypertension, get treatment and get aggressive with your nutrition.
  7. Do not sit so much. Stand up at work when you can.
  8. Learn to laugh.
  9. Keep a positive attitude.
  10. Go to church.
  11. Cultivate good friends.
  12. Stay married.

Do be careful what you ask for. I was seeing a 96-year-old lady for her first visit with me and she told me when she turned 70, her goal was to make it to 100. Now she was afraid she just might make it!