There are things we can start doing today and things we can’t stop doing tomorrow that’ll not only help us live better, they’ll help us live longer? If you love life even half as much as I do, you’ll lean a little closer and read what the experts have discovered for us.
Be Good at What You Do
Did you know that Oscar winners live an average of 3.9 years longer than other actors? Blessed by success! Succeeding at what you do brings about a certain level of satisfaction and confidence. Apparently these feelings lead to a better life as well as a longer life. David Gems, Ph.D, professor of biology at University College London puts it this way, “Working in such a way that you get little reward in proportion to what you put in is one of the biggest causes of occupational stress. If you can get rid of that stress, you’ll live longer.”
Take Away: Find a job that is rewarding and satisfying to you, then do it as well as you possibly can.
Rise and Shine, Sleepyhead!
A UCLA study found that People who slept 8 hours or longer died 12 percent younger than those who averaged between 5 and 7 hours of sleep each night. However, less than 4 hours is considered dangerous and extremely unwise.
I can certainly attest to how too much sleep makes you feel – groggy and lethargic. Ironically, sleeping too much almost makes you feel worse than when you don’t get enough sleep. The healthiest approach to sleep is to try to set a routine bedtime and stick to it. One person’s “routine” won’t be the same as the next person’s, of course. My uncle goes to be around 10:00 each night and wakes up before 6:00.
I can’t even imagine being in bed by 11:00! By the same token, I’m sure he can’t imagine being awake after 11:00. Work schedules as well as personal preferences play a big role in when people want to schedule their sleep.
Take Away: The bottom line is this, aim for between 5 and 7 hours each night. If you tend to sleep longer, try getting up 30 minutes earlier. If necessary, after your body adjusts to that, you can aim for 15 to 30 minutes earlier. If you average less than 4 hours of sleep each night, try to cut back on the caffeine, because you must have it running through your veins! (Not that I’m not a little jealous of that accomplishment.)
Get That Body Moving
Researchers have been singing the same song (and trying to get us to dance to it) for two forevers. People who exercise at least 5 days a week live longer, have fewer illnesses, feel better, and have more confidence. Buy a pedometer, take up yoga, walk, jog, buy a treadmill (want, want, want), park further from the door, etc. MOVE IT!
Take Away: Our hearts love it when we move. Exercise makes them feel good to be alive. And, face it, if our hearts feel good, they’ll treat us ever so much better. Start keeping an Activity Journal – write down, each day, what you do and how long you keep at it. Five days this week, for a personal example, two of my daughters and I walked for 30 minutes at the mall. I seem to have more energy than I normally did AND I’ve actually lost 2 pounds! The only other difference I made was to drink lower calorie drinks at Starbucks. Fortunately they’ve come up with quite a few wonderful new low-calorie drinks.
Hang Out With Young People Whenever Possible
With 3 daughters who happen to have great boyfriends, this is as easy as apple pie for me. Our home is almost always filled with laughter, squeals, Vin Diesel, Guitar Hero, Wii, Mario, etc. Last night, even, two of the boys and my husband were all on different computers playing against one another in a game of some sort. With all the screams of “You got me!” and “Yesss!”- I assume they were after one another in some fashion. All I know is there was a lot of laughter going on, and that’s always a beautiful thing.
One of my biggest pet peeves – oh let’s just call it what it is – one of the things I HATE the most in the world, is when people look down, judge, avoid, or chastise young people. Most of them would be a world better off if they hung out with them more! Think about it, everyone’s a winner – the older, more experienced people are able to share their knowledge and experience with the younger ones while the younger ones share their wide-eyed excitement and eagerness.
When all of that’s brought together, how can anyone lose?
A young person’s energy is contagious – and it’s something we should all want to catch. The next time you see a young person in the mall or at the theater, don’t snarl or act like they’re dirty (because if I see you doing it, I may throw a drink on your feet.) Smile at them! With all of the surly adults in the world, I guarantee you’ll catch them off guard – and make your generation look so much cooler.
Take Away: Don’t let your mind, your body, your spirit, or your psyche get old! Stay up on the latest phrases, movies, games, books, etc. If someone calls you a fuddy duddy, don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables
There’s a reason your mom always told you to eat them, you know. We mothers know what’s best – always. Research backs us up: Eating at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day adds 3 years to your life! A study at Cambridge University ranked eating fruits and veggies right up there with exercising and quitting smoking.
Take Away: Drink fruit or vegetable juice at breakfast (Have you had a V8 lately? Delicious!). For lunch, have either a glorious Subway sandwich and/or salad with a side of apple wedges or serve up a healthy bowl of vegetable soup. For supper, serve a couple of your favorite vegetables with your meal. Less meat leaves room for even more vegetables and fruit. When it comes to snacks, keep apples, bananas, grapes, etc on hand. And I’m dead serious about the V8 juice – they come in cans now, too, so they’re as easy to grab as they are yummy to drink. One can of V8 juice actually counts as two servings of vegetables and it only has 70 calories (watch out for the sodium though).
Go Nuts and Be Fishy
A California study found that eating a handful of nuts each day added as much as 2.7 years to our lives. The omega-3 found in nuts and fish keep your brain sharp, skin soft, and mood balanced – to say nothing of the wonderful affect they have on your heart.
Take Away: Throw nuts on top of the salads you’ll be enjoying more frequently. Serve fish several times a week. I’ve been trying different varieties of fish with my beloved George Foreman Grill and I haven’t been disappointed yet.
Know Your Blood Pressure Numbers
If you’re flirting with high blood pressure, take necessary actions immediately to bring it under control. Fortunately, the steps above will help bring these numbers within reason. If you’re overweight, start working on bringing those numbers down, as well.
Take Away: Take a good, honest look at your lifestyle and diet. Whatever shape you’re in now, your lifestyle and diet are supporting.
Vow right now to start taking better care of yourself. Take as good care of YOU as you do your spouse, children, and pets! It’s not selfish to take care of yourself – it’s selfish not to.
Also See: Part 2 of How to Live Longer and Better