Live long and prosper… More than just a catchphrase for the crew of the Starship Enterprise, the desire to live longer and better is a goal many of us hope to achieve.  And many of us already are – in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the average life expectancy continues to rise each year, and is now just shy of 80 years. Want even more proof we’re living longer and more active lives than ever before?  Check out the growing popularity of active adult communities, which offer a host of fitness, recreational, social and educational programs exclusively to residents 55 or better.

Last week, we told you about six healthy lifestyle habits to help you live longer and better, and this week, we’re bringing you five more – some you probably know (but bear repeating), with perhaps a few surprises along the way.  While we can’t guarantee that making these changes will lengthen your life, we’re pretty sure they’ll go a long way towards enhancing it. 
  1. Lose the extra weight. If you’ve got a few pounds to lose, it’s likely you know that taking off that extra weight can not only make you look and feel better, it can also reduce your likelihood of developing heart type 2 diabetes, heart disease cancer and other potentially life-threatening conditions. But did you know that all weight isn’t created equal?  If you’ve got a gut, slimming down is especially important – deep visceral belly fat has been linked to a host of metabolic and vascular diseases, and early studies show a possible link to Alzheimer’s disease.  Which leads us to…
  2. Exercise. Attention couch potatoes – we all make excuses for why we don’t exercise, but you can’t fool science, which continues to prove that people who move more live longer.  While we probably don’t have to tell you that regular exercise can cut your risk of disease, did you know it can also ease depression and keep your mind sharp as you age?  And speaking of excuses, if you’re pressed for time, shorter spurts of activity can add up to better health – even moving for ten minutes is beneficial, as long as your weekly exercise total is at least three hours. 
  3. Sleep. Just like in the old fable Goldilocks and the Three Bears, getting the optimal amount of sleep is just right. Studies have shown that sleeping for less than five hours per night has been linked to a variety of ailments, such as obesity, heart disease, mood disorders and memory loss, but getting too much sleep can also negatively impact your health.  So how much sleep is best?  While experts have long recommended that adults shoot for seven to nine hours of slumber per night, new research is showing that an even seven hours is the healthiest choice. 
  4. Get Married. Saying “I do” can impact more than just your marital status.  Studies continue to prove that married (or cohabiting) people live longer than singletons, probably due to the emotional and financial support relationships provide. And the benefits can last even if the marriage doesn’t – divorced or widowed people tend live longer than those who have never wed.
  5. Let it go. Here’s another reason the hit song from “Frozen” resonates with young and old alike.  While chronic anger has been linked to a host of health ailments, like increased blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, letting go of bitterness and resentment can lower your health risks, reduce anxiety and help you live longer.  Even better, these effects multiply as you get older, so the next time you’re upset, take a deep breath and forgive. 

While none of us can change the genetic blueprints we were born with, we all have the ability to make lifestyle changes and adopt healthier habits that can boost our wellbeing and help us live longer and more fulfilling lives.

Want more great advice? Visit The Elements of Living, a colorful magazine-style lifestyle blog, filled with great information and engaging articles to help you and your family get the most out of life.  For more information on enhancing your lifestyle, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s property management leader.

Friday June 12, 2015