The best way to live a long life and live it well is a combination of staying safe, staying healthy, and embracing your spirituality. Prevention is the key. Some things are obvious, like always wearing your seat belt and avoiding illegal drugs. Others take a bit of health education so you know which foods and vitamins are best for promoting longevity.
As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says: None of us is born with an instruction manual on how to stay alive until 80 or beyond. It takes guesswork, good common sense, and a bit of luck. But there are things we can do to maximize our longevity odds. And some of these may surprise you.
Accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults. To avoid the grim reaper at such a young age, the Post-Dispatch offers this common sense list. Make sure you always:
- Wear a seat belt.
- Drive safely.
- Avoid harmful drugs and substances, legal or illegal.
- Avoid family violence and violence with strangers.
- Exercise: The No. 1 way to stay healthy--whether you're a little tyke or a grouchy geezer--is to exercise. Find something you enjoy and do it for 30 minutes a day most days of the week. No excuses. The Post-Dispatch asserts that some doctors say exercise is so powerful it can even lessen the severity of illnesses passed through your family genes.
- Eat right: Eat fish three to four times a week, load up on fruits and vegetables, get plenty of calcium and other vitamins, and don't smoke. Enjoying one or two alcoholic beverages a day may be beneficial, but more than that is harmful.
- Maintain a healthy weight: The secret to a long life may be maintaining a healthy weight in your young adult years and staying physically active in later years--and this holds true even if you suffer from diabetes, heart disease, or cancer as a senior citizen. Reuters reports that researchers from the University of California, Irvine have determined that elderly people who reported weighing the least at age 21 and who participated regularly in physical exercise as senior citizens were the most likely to eventually celebrate their 90th birthday.
None other than the venerable Mayo Clinic has suggested that one of the best ways to improve your chances of living a century is to recognize the value of spirituality in your life. "Nurture your spirit, no matter what you call your source of inspiration," advised a recent health letter the clinic published.
Other research has shown that people who regularly attend worship services, live longer. It's not the act of going to the church, synagogue, or mosque that extends lives, but rather the involvement in the religious and spiritual activities.
One other theory: People who are involved in religious groups benefit from the social networks they form. If they get sick, others look out for them. Religious beliefs may also lead to less risky behavior. In addition, a well developed sense of spirituality may help people better cope with life's tough psychological demands.