Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I'm Gonna Live Forever (9 Habits for A Long Life)

Not to sound like a total Pollyanna, but I really, truly love my life. So far, it has exceeded all of my expectations and hopes at almost every turn, and I had great expectations and high hopes.  Which is why I secretly want to live forever. Well, maybe not forever (because then you get into that depressing post-apocalyptic thing where it's just you and the cockroaches roaming the earth), but a very, very long time. I would like at least another 60 good years to mess around with, please.  And as a result of this secret, selfish wish, I have become somewhat of a closet expert about strategies and studies on life expectancy. "Hey, Lil" you might be thinking, "This post doesn't have anything to do with your 29th birthday coming up next week, does it?"  Um, no.  I'm just a life-expectancy hobbyist, and I like to share my interests with you, my dearest darling readers.

Okay, fine, maybe my upcoming birthday had a tiny bit to do with my preoccupation with evading mortality for as long as possible. But the good news is that, after thousands of studies, involving millions of people in every country of the world, it turns out that the habits and behaviors that result in longer lifespans are all pretty instinctual, obvious and attainable. If you have a few minutes you should do this free Life Expectancy Calculator (it's kind of fun, and I like it because it said I would live to 102, which even I think is a little optimistic- imagine all the blog posts!). Since it seems I've already got good habits anyway,  I'm happily well on my way to being one of those motorcycle-riding, skydiving nonogenarians (as long as I don't risk riding motorcycles or skydiving until then). Bring on the birthdays!

9 Healthy Habits to Help You Live Forever (Or A Really Long Time)

1. Don't Smoke.  This could not be more obvious, but since I still see tons of people puffing away at all hours of the day, I suppose it bears mentioning. Look, I'd be lying if I pretended that I have never enjoyed a smoke in my day- I know that pleasant tingly buzz, and I get why you like it.  But it makes your hair and clothes stink, takes 14 years off your life expectancy (I need those 14 years!), and gives you yellow teeth and wrinkles. And I can't have either of those things, if I am going to look as good as (now deceased) former World's Oldest Woman Yone Minagawa (above) on my own 114th birthday.

2. Keep Active. Do something physical every single day (this is one example where garbage men and construction workers have the leg up on the rest of us). If your job forces you to sit in a chair all day, make a concerted effort to take a brisk walk at lunch, or sign up for an evening tap dancing class. It only takes 30 minutes a day, and will add at least 3-4 years to your life. Bonus points if you spend at least 15 minutes outdoors- unfiltered sunlight provides vitamin D, which is essential for long life.

3. Eat Your Veggies (and Fruits). Eating 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day (your morning OJ counts as a serving, and a salad for lunch could count as two) greatly increases your longevity. French fries don't count. Limit your red meat intake and try to eat more fish. Cut out the soda, artificial sweeteners and trans fats.

4. Take a Multivitamin. Make sure you are getting your daily recommended intake of vitamins C, D, and E especially.  It's so easy, and makes a huge difference. Why not?

5. Don't Drink Too Much. But a little is okay (and may even be good for you, if it's red wine).

6. Love And Be Loved. Studies show that people who have in-person interactions with family and close friends at least three times a week live significantly longer than those who don't. And if you're not a people-person, even having a pet who likes you adds years to your life.

 7. Have Fun. It seems laughter really is the best medicine- in fact, no other personality factor is more strongly correlated with life expectancy than sense of humor. Good thing, because I don't think I would want to live to 102 if I had to be somber the whole time.

8. Floss. It prevents gum and heart disease, and can add anywhere from 1.5 to 7 years to your life. Seriously. 

9. Everything in Moderation (Including Moderation). Anecdotal evidence shows that among the longest-living people, they all tend to share the philosophy of "live a little." So, keep your daily habits on the straight-and-narrow, but, every once in a while, give yourself permission to ignore the rules.  Eat a second piece of pie, spend a day lounging on the couch, or go to bed without flossing if it makes you feel good. Just remember to take the stairs and brush extra well the next day.

Totally do-able, right? Now I've gotta go figure out what I am going to write about until 2083...

14 comments:

Our Wonderful Eyes said...

Flossing prevents heart disease? That's awesome! But how?

Karen said...

What a fun post! Thanks Lily.

Chloe said...

Awe sadly the two of us will part- my life expectancy is 95 years...I will miss you my friend. LOL

Missfittgirl said...

I love this post! I'm a bit of a Pollyanna myself:)

Mrs Woog said...

Seems I am DOOOOMED

Anonymous said...

Fun, fitness and flossing.Fab!

Lily said...

@Our Wonderful Eyes- it's weird, right? But it seems bacteria from your mouth enters the bloodstream and can cause blockages in your arteries. Suddenly, I'm glad my dad was such a flossing stickler when I was a kid!

@Chloe- Looks like I'M going to be the one missing YOU! Who I am going to talk to during those 7 years I outlive you? I better make some younger friends...

Chloe said...

You better! Man- what a same or I better start flossing more- I think that took those years off my life...lol...

Christine said...

What a fun little quiz! Apparently I've done something right - 101! Yikes I better pick up some more hobbies! :)

Chloe said...

I meant shame not same

Amber said...

So, if I stop taking the iron supplement I don't actually take, replace that with aspirin, and work 5 days a week instead of 7, I'll live as long as you, and then we can talk about how much we miss Chloe.

Our Wonderful Eyes said...

Thanks! My husband has this childhood fear that flossing will push his teeth apart but I will have to tell him that it could, indeed, save his life!!!

Bitsy said...

Hey Lil: I swear by my 10th, and personal favorite habit....the tradition of swallowing a live minnow out of Higgins Lake on my birthday!! Works for ME! Healthy as a horse and still going strong!

Frances said...

working out! i tend to be phase-y in working out, but this year, i'm making it a habit!