In the United States, life expectancy is 76 years for men and 81 for women.
But the following behaviors can help you live longer:
Let’s say that I offer to buy you the car of your dreams. You can pick out any car that you want, and when you get out of class this afternoon, that car will be waiting for you at home. There’s just one catch… It’s the only car you’re ever going to get in your entire life…You have only one mind and one body for the rest of your life. If you aren’t taking care of them when you’re 16 or 17, it’s like leaving that car out in hailstorms and letting rust eat away at it. If you don’t take care of your mind and body now, by the time you are 40 or 50 you’ll be like a car that can’t go anywhere.
For example, Harvard researchers conducted a 34-year study with 123,000 participants. They found that 5 behaviors increased life expectancy to 88 for men and 93 for women:
Another 30-year Harvard study found that optimistic people lived 11–15% longer and were 50–70% more likely to reach age 85.
Start living longer today. Healthy diet, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and good sleep are part of the “Daily habits” section. The chapters on “Friendship”, “Dating”, “Marriage”, and “Social skills” will improve your relationships. Finally, find your purpose in life by following the chapter on “Happiness”.
Researchers have estimated that 90% of us could live to age 90 with some simple lifestyle choices. What’s more, we could live free of common diseases that make our final years miserable.
My number one priority in life, above my happiness, above my family, above my work, is my own health. It starts with my physical health. Second, it’s my mental health. Third, it’s my spiritual health. Then, it’s my family’s health. Then, it’s my family’s wellbeing. After that, I can go out and do whatever I need to do with the rest of the world.
Xu J et al. (2020). Mortality in the United States, 2018. National Center Health Statistics. NCHS Data Brief No. 355.
Li Y et al. (2020). Healthy lifestyle and life expectancy free of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 368: l6669.
A 34-year study of 111,562 participants found that women at age 50 who lived a healthy lifestyle had an extra 10.7 years of life expectancy free of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer (84 years vs. 74)
For men, it was an extra 7.6 years (81 years vs. 74)
Life expectancy was reduced the most by heavy smoking and obesity
Healthy lifestyle was defined as: never smoking; BMI 18.5–24.9; ≥30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous exercise; 1 alcoholic drink or less per day; healthy diet score in the upper 40%
Schwingshack L et al. (2017). Food groups and risk of all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 105(6): 1462–1473.
A meta-analysis of 103 studies found that risk of all-cause mortality was decreased by eating the following food groups: nuts (24%), whole grains (8%), fish (7%), fruits (6%), and vegetables (4%)
Daskalopoulou C et al. (2017). Physical activity and healthy ageing: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal cohort studies. Ageing Res Rev. 38: 6–17.
GBD 2016 Alcohol Collaborators. (2018). Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet. 392(10152): 1015–1035.
Cappuccio FP et al. (2010). Sleep duration and all-cause mortality: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Sleep. 33(5): 585–592.
A meta-analysis of 16 studies with 1,382,999 participants found that risk of death was increased by short sleep (12%) and long sleep (30%)
Short sleep was defined as ≤4, 5, 6, or 7 hours per night
Long sleep was ≥8, 9, 10, or 12 hours
Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS Med. 7(7): e1000316.
Okun MA, Yeung EW, Brown S. (2013). Volunteering by older adults and risk of mortality: a meta-analysis. Psychol Aging. 28(2): 564–577.
Lee LO et al. (2019). Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 116(37): 18357–18362.
A 10-year study of 69,744 women and a 30-year study of 1,429 men found that those in the highest quartile or quintile of optimism had a 10.9–14.9% longer lifespan and a 50–70% higher likelihood of reaching age 85
For perspective, never having been diagnosed with diabetes was associated with a 17.0% longer lifespan
Cohen R, Bavishi C, Rozanski A. (2016). Purpose in life and its relationship to all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events: A meta-analysis. Psychosom Med. 78(2): 122–133.
Li Y et al. (2018). Impact of healthy lifestyle factors on life expectancies in the US population. Circulation. 138(4): 345–355.
A 34-year study of 123,219 participants found that women and men with low-risk lifestyle factors had an expected life expectancy of 93.1 and 87.6 years, respectively
Low-risk lifestyle factors were: never smoking; BMI 18.5–24.9; ≥30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous exercise; 1 alcoholic drink or less per day; healthy diet score in the upper 40%
Ruby JG et al. (2018). Estimates of the heritability of human longevity are substantially inflated due to assortative mating. Genetics. 210(3): 1109–1124.
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