Lifestyle Habits That May Help You Live Longer

Are you looking for ways to boost your longevity? Most people assume that your longevity is mainly tied to your genes, but genetics actually have a much smaller impact on your life expectancy than habits and environmental factors such as lifestyle and diet.


The Blue Zones are the regions across the globe with the highest concentration of people living into their 90s and 100s and include places such as Okinawa in Japan and Sardinia and Nicoya in Costa Rica. People who live in these areas tend to share similar healthy lifestyle habits, including maintaining strong relationships, eating a diverse range of plant-based foods, and avoiding smoking.

If you're interested in adding a few additional years to your lifespan and aging well while you're at it, you probably want to adopt some of the lifestyle habits known to boost longevity. Here are some of the top lifestyle habits that can help you live a longer life.

Avoid overeating and eating processed foods

Studies show a link between low-calorie intake, a lower likelihood of disease, and an extended lifespan. Research on animal subjects shows that reducing regular calorie intake by anywhere from 10% to 50% can add years to their lives. Reducing your calorie intake can also help decrease excess belly fat and body weight, both of which are tied to shorter lifespans.


That said, keep in mind that restricting your calories over the long term is not sustainable and can actually result in adverse side effects, including a reduced sex drive, a low body temperature, and increased hunger. It's important to stick to a healthy, yet sustainable, diet so you don't end up yo-yoing between calorie restriction and overeating.

Processed foods are another thing to watch out for since these foods include more sugar, more sodium, more saturated fat, and less fiber, which leads to an increased risk of diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Avoid foods with saturated fats and trans fats, since these can boost your chances of heart disease.

Eat a wide variety of plant-based foods

A lifestyle habit you can adopt to help you live a longer life is following a healthy diet in the form of varied plant-based foods. Consuming a diverse range of plant-based foods, including fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, and seeds, can reduce your risk of disease and boost your longevity. People typically think about their food and diet as it relates to short-term goals such as improved digestion and weight loss, but what you eat now and over the long term has a huge effect on your longevity.


A healthy and varied diet that features whole foods, fiber, vegetables, and fruits will protect you from inflammation and chronic illnesses, including hypertension, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and specific cancers. These conditions cause most early deaths, so if you can prevent them with your diet, you will be on track to live a long life. Research shows that over 400,000 deaths can be prevented annually by implementing simple dietary changes.

Furthermore, you don't need to completely overhaul your diet to boost your longevity. Improving your diet by even a mere 20% could decrease your risk of early death anywhere from 8% to 17%. Doctors, nutritionists, and other professionals debate which foods and dietary changes can increase your longevity, but most experts agree that incorporating a wide range of whole foods into your diet is best. That means cutting back on refined sugars and eating lots of legumes, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.


Get enough sleep

Sleeping fewer than six hours per night can almost double your risk of stroke and heart attack. Research shows that people who are regularly deprived of sleep are 12% more likely to die prematurely than those who sleep at least six to eight hours each night.


If you struggle with falling or staying asleep, you might wonder how to get more high-quality sleep. It's crucial to stick to a consistent sleep schedule, which means going to sleep and waking up around the same time every day. It also helps to exercise on a daily basis. As long as you exercise daily and your exercise doesn't interfere with your sleep, it doesn't matter when you work out.

Additionally, if you bought your mattress over 10 years ago, it's probably time to buy a new one. Sleeping on a good-quality mattress every night will improve your sleep quality. It also helps to set your thermostat somewhere from 60 to 67 degrees each night, since sleeping in a cool room will help you drift off to sleep. Get blackout curtains as well if needed to make your room pitch black. Keep in mind that the light from some electronic devices can overstimulate your brain, so it's important to shut down your electronics at least an hour before going to bed.


Drink tea or coffee

Another lifestyle habit to help you live longer is drinking the right beverages. Drinking more green tea, black tea, and coffee can help boost your longevity. People who live in Okinawa, located in one of the Blue Zones, drink green tea all day long. Green tea is made of unfermented pale-colored leaves with slightly bitter flavors. The caffeine in the tea helps reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease, dementia, heart disease, and diabetes. Green tea also contains high levels of flavonols, an antioxidant correlated to decreasing the amount of bad cholesterol in the body.


Black tea also contains caffeine and antioxidants, including flavonols, L-theanine, and polyphenols, so it boasts some of the same benefits as green tea. Those who drink black tea regularly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. They also tend to have better gut health and digestion than those who don't drink black tea.

Coffee can also help you live a longer life, since it contains important nutrients, including niacin, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and vitamin B5. Niacin converts vitamins to usable energy, potassium helps reduce blood pressure, magnesium is helpful for sleep and energy, manganese helps with metabolism and bone development, and vitamin B5 helps produce red blood cells. Drinking coffee daily can also reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, liver disease, depression, and cancer.


Maintain your relationships, both close and extended

Everyone knows that relationships with others are important for your mental and emotional health, but did you know that relationships and friendships are great for your physical health as well? Having strong and meaningful relationships reduces stress and boosts overall health and longevity.


Research shows that people with strong relationships and social networks have a 50% improved chance of surviving than people with less supportive relationships. The same research reveals that the physical risk of social isolation is about the same as smoking 15 times per day and is more harmful than inactivity or obesity.

Having strong relationships with friends and with your overall community can also boost your overall life satisfaction and feelings of happiness. Supporting your friends and other people is beneficial for your physical health, so be sure to make time for your loved ones, friends, and community members.

Manage anxiety and stress

Another important lifestyle habit to extend your lifespan is finding ways to manage your anxiety and stress, since doing so can reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Try deep breathing, meditation, and yoga to manage stress and anxiety. Practicing these activities for even just a few minutes on a daily basis can make a huge difference to your health.


Stress is not something you can completely avoid in life, but having too much worry and anxiety can have a dramatic toll on your body and disrupt nearly all of your body's processes. Chronic stress can boost your risk of inflammation, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety disorders, and depression, all of which can lead to a shortened lifespan.

Research shows that heavy chronic stress can decrease the longevity of both women and men by more than two years. Fortunately, you can protect your mental and physical health by managing your stress through activities such as meditation, therapy, yoga, and journaling.

Moderate your alcohol intake

For many years, an association has been made between moderate alcohol use and good heart health. On the contrary, drinking too much alcohol can cause weight gain, increase blood pressure, boost blood sugar levels, and cause harm to your heart muscle, leading to heart failure and other health issues over time. According to one study, those who drink anywhere from 14 to 25 drinks per week shorten their lifespan by one to two years, while people who drink over 25 drinks per week reduce their life expectancy by four to five years.


When it comes to drinking alcohol, there are many more risks than benefits, so if you don't drink, there's no reason to start now. If you do drink, we recommend reducing the amount of alcohol you drink, according to national guidelines from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Reducing your alcohol intake can lessen your risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases and add several years to your life.

Avoid smoking

You probably already know how difficult quitting or avoiding smoking can be if you smoke regularly. That said, tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and smoking can cut your lifespan by a decade.


You can either choose to phase out your smoking habit little by little or immediately give up the habit cold turkey. No matter how you opt to quit smoking, your body will appreciate the effort. Your circulation and blood pressure will improve pretty soon after you stop smoking, and your cancer risk goes down every single year after quitting smoking.

Another major benefit of avoiding smoking is that you will look and feel younger. Your friends and family members will also see benefits from you quitting since they will no longer be exposed to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke also poses dangerous health risks.

Embrace exercise on a bigger scale

Staying physically active throughout the day adds years to your life. It certainly helps to exercise on a daily basis, but people who live in the Blue Zones don't just exercise once and call it a day. Instead, they move throughout the entire day for even more health benefits. Blue Zone residents do everything from practicing thai chi to dancing to walk to the grocery store to riding their bikes nearly everywhere. Biking, dancing, and walking regularly can all reduce your risk of heart disease.


That said, research shows that even as little as 15 minutes of daily exercise can boost your life expectancy by three years. Your risk of dying prematurely is further reduced by 4% for each additional 15 minutes of physical activity you perform each day.

Research also reveals that people who exercise have a 22% reduced risk of premature death, even if they exercise less than the suggested 150 minutes each week. People who do exercise at least 150 minutes per week have a 28% reduced risk of premature death. This percentage increases to 35% for those who engage in more than 150 minutes of weekly exercise.

See your doctor on a regular basis

Many people only opt to see their physician when they're feeling sick, but it helps to schedule an appointment way before you start seeing signs of illness. Annual checkups are crucial because they give your doctor a baseline of your health and help prevent health issues. Visiting your physician regularly also enables you to grow a strong connection with your doctor, which helps you stay healthier over time.


If you lead a busy life, it can be tough to make the time necessary for doctor appointments and health screenings, such as Pap smear tests, colonoscopies, mammograms, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests. However, these health screenings are extremely important since they can help you and your physician detect serious illnesses early.

Keep in mind that the sooner a disease such as cancer is detected, the sooner you can start treatment and begin the road to better health. The next time you visit your doctor, make sure to ask which vaccinations and screenings you need.

Practice positive thinking

Having a positive outlook on life can boost your longevity. Research shows that practicing positive thinking and embracing the bright side of life can lead to a life expectancy that's about 11% to 15% longer and healthier by improving resiliency, reducing resting heart rate, and decreasing stress and anxiety. It might sound difficult to become a positive person, particularly if you are normally a pessimist, but it's actually not as difficult as it seems to cultivate and embrace optimism.


Try surrounding yourself with positive people, keeping a gratitude journal, and embracing positive affirmations. You can start a gratitude journal by taking a notebook and writing down three things each day that you are grateful for. This activity will help you notice the good things in your life and appreciate them more.

It also helps to associate with other positive people, since their optimism and positive personalities and habits will likely rub off on you. If you struggle with negative self-talk, try practicing positive affirmations or mantras each day. Repeat statements such as "I am enough" and "I can handle anything" to better embrace positivity.

Drink lots of water

The world and human bodies themselves are filled with water, so it makes sense that we need to drink a lot of water on a daily basis. Doctors and other experts don't necessarily agree about exactly how much water we need to consume each day, but the general standard is to aim for at least eight glasses per day.


You can also drink more than eight glasses of water daily to be safe since dehydration can wreak havoc on your body. Even a mild case of dehydration can lead to muscle pains and headaches, symptoms which will only get worse over time without enough daily water intake.

On the flip side, drinking the recommended amount of water each day has tremendous health benefits. Water is beneficial for your skin, mood, energy level, mental health, and physical performance. If you don't currently drink much water, try starting by replacing one can of soda or glass of juice with a glass of water instead. This simple change will boost your hydration and cut out some of the refined sugars in your diet, which is extremely beneficial for your health.


Get a pet

If you are going back and forth about whether to get a dog, it might help you make your decision to know that owning a pet, particularly a dog, can decrease your blood pressure and anxiety and can even boost your odds of surviving a heart attack. According to a report from the American Heart Association published to the journal Circulation (via AARP), owning a dog is beneficial for people of all ages who want to decrease their risk of fatal cardiovascular disease.


The reason for this is simpler than you might think. Dog owners are typically much more physically active than non-owners since they take their dogs out for walks multiple times per day. Man's best friend also has a calming presence and can help decrease the effects of stress and anxiety, which, in turn, reduces the risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. The more you know.