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How could you live a longer, happier, and healthier life? Whatever your age, you have a vested interest in the answer. As a member of the Medicare generation, the question is of vital importance to me. Amazingly, I am enjoying life today more than ever, and that joy motivates me to keep going for as long as possible.
By the way, I am not alone in my late-in-life happiness: Large-scale research studies reveal that older adults experience happier lives as they age, even if they have a few physical ailments. What a surprising and wonderful finding—and I want you to experience this same happiness. So I’ve scanned for the latest research on extending our lifespan. What was new in 2016? First, let’s take a quick look at what we already know.
Meg Selig is the author of Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success and has been a PT blogger for over 5 years. She earned her M.A. Ed. in counseling at Washington University in St. Louis. Before retiring, she was a professor of counseling at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley where she taught classes on “Habit Change” and other topics and provided personal and career counseling to students.
Editor: Arman Ahmed
Well-Known Longevity Factors
Research has supported the links between longevity and the following behaviors:
- Exercise. Exercise! EXERCISE! Even small doses will extend your life. (By how much? By this much.)
- Connecting with others. Surround yourself with good people.
- Reducing stress. Aim for challenges that stretch you but don’t overwhelm you.
- Managing your money wisely. Debt is a willpower vampire, a huge stressor, and a joy-killer, according to this research. Have a financial cushion.
- Eating healthy foods most of the time.
- Sleeping for 7-8 hours per night.
- Engaging in meaningful activities.
- Drinking coffee. (Oh, joy!)
In their 2011 book, The Longevity Project, Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin reported that the most important factor in longevity was not a behavior, per se, but a character trait: Conscientiousness. Conscientious people take care of their health, keep their medical appointments, are responsible to friends and family, and practice healthy habits.
And Now…Longevity Studies from 2016
Research from 2016 adds three somewhat surprising, recommendations to the list: