How to Live a Long Life: 10 Habits of Happy and Healthy Aging 

long life

According to Pew research, a whopping 97% of Americans believe that healthy eating habits are key to a long and healthy life. And, 98% say that it is important or somewhat important to get enough physical exercise. They aren’t wrong, but there is a lot more you can do insure a long life.

Let’s explore 10 scientifically proven ways to improve your chances of a long life.

1. Keep Learning

Learning is scientifically proven to reduce the intellectual impacts of aging.

Research from UC Berkeley found that when people in their 80s were taught something new over just 6 weeks, they could make their brains up to 30 years younger.

In this Pew research, they reported on the types of activities personal learners undertook:

  • 58% read how to publications
  • 35% attend a meeting, club, or group
  • 30% went to a conference or convention
  • 25% took a course

2. Focus on Social Connections

The National Institute on Aging finds that 25% of Americans over 65 are socially isolated, and a meta analysis of 277 studies with 177,635 participants from adolescence to old age found that people’s social networks increase through young adulthood, then decrease steadily over the rest of their lives.

Fostering social connections is a critical part of aging well. Research has found that social 60 year olds are almost 12% less likely to develop dementia than less socially active peers. And, the National Institute on Aging links loneliness to higher risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease and more.

3. Eat Well

A well-balanced diet is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. Focus on a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit processed foods, excessive sugar, and saturated fats to promote overall well-being and maintain a healthy weight.

Consider the Mediterranean diet

Emphasize whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil, while limiting red meat and processed foods; the Mediterranean diet has been associated with various health advantages.

Research, such as the PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) study, has demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, improving cognitive function, and promoting longevity. The high intake of monounsaturated fats from olive oil, abundant antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, and the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish contribute to its anti-inflammatory properties.

4. Connect with Nature

Spending time outdoors and connecting with nature has been associated with numerous health benefits. Whether it’s a walk in the park, gardening, or hiking, immersing yourself in natural environments can reduce stress, improve mood, and promote overall well-being. Furthermore, nature can envoke a sense of awe – that feeling of being overwhelmed by something vast and greater than oneself. Awe has been found to have several positive effects on well-being. Research suggests that cultivating a sense of awe can contribute to psychological, emotional, and even physical health.

5. Manage Stress Effectively

Chronic stress can negatively impact both mental and physical health. Incorporate stress-reducing practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or hobbies that bring joy. Taking breaks, connecting with loved ones, and maintaining a positive mindset are also effective stress management strategies.

6. Reduce Financial Stress with Good Financial Planning Habits

Finances are the biggest source of stress for most people. Having a written financial plan can reduce that stress and improve your financial outcomes. A study published in the Journal of Financial Therapy found that individuals with a financial plan reported lower levels of financial stress compared to those without a plan. The act of creating a financial plan and having a roadmap for managing finances appears to provide individuals with a greater sense of control and confidence, reducing stress.

According to research from Charles Schwab, having a financial plan has myriad concrete benefits:

Increased confidence: A written plan increases your confidence and reduces your stress. When you have a plan for how to use your money, you know what you need to do to live your best life.

Better habits: When you have a written financial plan, you develop better habits. People with a plan are much more likely to:

  • Save more
  • Invest appropriately
  • Have an emergency fund
  • Reduce banking and investment fees
  • Avoid credit card balances
  • Pay bills on time
  • Re-balancing portfolios and regularly updating the financial plan

Improved outcomes: The result of those financial habits? Better outcomes. If you have a financial plan, you are more likely to be able to achieve your retirement goals.

Written plans are important to everyone, but especially those at low- and moderate-income levels

Research finds that written plans may be especially important for low- and moderate-income levels. One-third of households with less than $48,000 in annual income with a written plan save 10% or more of income, compared with about one in 10 households in that income range without written plans.

NewRetirement makes it easy to build and maintain your financial plan

The NewRetirement Planner is the most comprehensive modeling engine in the game. Using your inputs, our algorithm runs every possible scenario—even ones that may break every rule in the book—to help you see where you stand now and find the best plan to improve your use of your money and time. 

It’s easy to get started. We’ll walk you step by step to better habits, improved outcomes, and the life you want.

7. Stay Physically Active

Regular exercise is vital for maintaining optimal physical health and preventing chronic conditions. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week which can include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, and strength training. Lower burn physical activity is great too. Think about gardening, strolling the golf course, dancing, shopping, even cooking and cleaning.

Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle is key. Find activities you enjoy to make exercise a sustainable part of your routine.

8. Get Quality Sleep

Quality sleep is essential for overall health and longevity. 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep is ideal. Establish a consistent sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and ensure your sleep environment is comfortable and conducive to rest.

A meta-analysis found that both short sleep duration (less than 6 hours) and long sleep duration (more than 9 hours) were associated with increased mortality risk. Another study suggested that consistent short sleep duration may be a risk factor for all-cause mortality. These findings highlight the significance of maintaining a balanced and adequate sleep duration for overall health and longevity.

9. See Your Doctors Regularly

Proactive healthcare is key to identifying and addressing potential issues early on. Schedule regular check-ups, screenings, and preventive care appointments with your healthcare provider. Stay informed about your health, and address any concerns promptly.

While not wholly covered by medicare, your preventative healthcare should include dental, vision, and hearing which all have a big impact on your well being.

10. Cultivate a Strong Sense of Purpose

Having a sense of purpose has been linked to increased longevity and life satisfaction. Identify your passions, set meaningful goals, and engage in activities that align with your values. A sense of purpose can provide motivation, direction, and a deeper connection to the world around you.

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NewRetirement Planner

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