Sure, your genes have something to do with your life span, but the doctors we spoke to agreed that simple things can make a big dent in your risk of chronic disease.
Follow these 18 simple rules and you won’t just live longer—you’ll make those (many, many) years count.
1. Stop smoking
Four years after doing so, your chance of having a heart attack falls to that of someone who has never smoked.
After ten years, your lung cancer risk drops to nearly that of a nonsmoker.
Concerned? See your doctor as techniques for earlier detection and new treatments for lung cancer exist.
2. Exercise daily
Thirty minutes of activity is all that’s necessary. Three ten-minute walks will do it. Or if you are keen for a run check out this expert advice on the pros and cons of running.
3. Eat your fresh produce
Fruit, vegetables … whatever your favourites are, just make sure you eat them every day.
This delicious fruit salad is ideal for upping your daily fruit count.
4. Get screened
No need to go test-crazy; just get the health screenings recommended for your stage of life.
Check with your doctor to make sure you’re up-to-date.
Just be honest. How much you smoke, drink, eat, exercise and whether you use protection during sex or while out in the sun matters.
5. Make sleep a priority
For most adults who want to live to 100, that means seven to eight hours every night.
If you have a tough time turning off the light, remember that sleep deprivation raises the risk of heart disease, cancer, and more.
We've debunked the common untruths surrounding sleep to help you get a good night’s rest.
6. Ask your doctor about low-dose aspirin
Heart attack, stroke, even cancer—a single 81 mg tablet per day may fight them all.
(Aspirin comes with risks, though, so don’t start on your own.)
If you’re older, you are at risk from the major problem of over-prescribing.
7. Know your blood pressure numbers
It’s not called the silent killer just to give your life a little more drama.
Keep yours under 120/80 if you want to live to 100.
Keep an eye out for the six sneaky causes of high blood pressure.
8. Stay connected
Loneliness is another form of stress.
Friends, family, and furry pets help you feel loved.
The following seven tools can help you navigate the treacherous shallows as well as the joys of solo living.
9. Cut back on saturated fat
It’s the raw material your body uses for producing LDL, bad cholesterol.
For decades, doctors and medical organisations have viewed saturated fat as the raw material for a heart attack.
But newer research has some experts questioning whether we’ve convicted the wrong criminal.
10. Get help for depression
It doesn’t just feel bad; it does bad things to your body.
In fact, when tacked onto diabetes and heart disease, it increases risk of early death by as much as 30 percent.
Here's 10 surprising ways to be happier without really trying.
11. Manage your stress
The doctors we surveyed say that living with uncontrolled stress is more destructive to your health than being 30 pounds overweight.
Easy answer? Teach yourself to meditate and beat stress.
12. Have a higher purpose
As one physician advised, “Strive to achieve something bigger than yourself.”
By giving back, you give to yourself.
Just try to keep your energy levels up for the personal journey ahead.
13. Load up at breakfast
People in “Blue Zones”—areas with high life expectancies—eat the most at breakfast, then have little or nothing for dinner.
Front-loading calories can ward off hungry all day, keeping your weight in check.
Not a morning person? Check out these ways to make sure you wake up on the right side of the bed and ease into your day with a positive, calm attitude.
14. Start fasting
You don’t need to go days without food.
Simply limiting eating to eight hours of the day gives your body more time to finish its six to twelve hours of digestion.
After that, it goes into “fasting” mode, burning stored fat.
New research is discovering that you are WHEN you eat. In fact, the secret to better health could be as simple as an early dinnertime.
15. Cook at home
Not only do you get to control the ingredients and make healthier choices, but the act of cooking is a mini workout.
New to the kitchen and want to save some money?
Have a lot of fun by making homemade treats to give as gifts this Christmas.
16. Have a sit-down meal
Multi-tasking during meals, such as while driving or rushing to get out the door, can put stress hormones in the way of your body’s ability to digest, which won’t help you live to 100.
Sit down, or better yet, gather the family together to get the bonus of social time while enjoying a meal together.
Take a look at these four good ways to cultivate healthy eating.
17. Save up
Most people who live to 100 are financially secure.
Worrying about money (and how to pay for healthcare) could get in the way of a long, healthy life.
Save money in ways you've never thought of before with these 10 tips.
18. Focus on the good stuff
Research shows people who live to 100 tend to complain less than younger adults.
Their lack of gripes could mean they’re better at handling bad situations.
Have to deal with difficult people? Take a look at these 13 things you should know about negotiating.
This article appeared on Reader's Digest.