Skip to content

20 Everyday Habits That Are Adding Years to Your Life

Want to live longer? These habits that could add years to your life.

Getting healthier and living longer doesn't have to be about making major changes or adopting any wild new routines. It can be about making a series of small, easy changes in your lifestyle that, separately and together, can slash your risk of serious illness and life-shortening events. These are major everyday habits that can add years to your life. 

Getting This Much Exercise


Experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day, or at least 150 minutes a week. Doing so has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, dementia—and a longer life overall. In 2021, scientists found that men and women who took more than 9,000 daily steps—about 30 to 45 minutes of exercise most days—were about 70 percent less likely to die early than those who were less active.

Getting Seven to Nine Hours of Good Sleep Each Night


This month, longevity and regenerative medicine doctor Neil Paulvin told CNBC that poor sleep quality is the #1 factor that will make you age faster. Experts agree that getting quality sleep reduces your risk of potentially life-shortening illnesses like cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and dementia. Aim for seven to nine hours a night.

Eating A Diet Low in Cholesterol and Bad Fats


"Diets high in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol have been linked to stroke and related conditions, such as heart disease," says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Adults who eat a healthy diet live longer and have a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers."

Managing Stress


In a study published in the journal BMJ Open, Finnish researchers found that being under heavy stress shortened men's lives 2.8 years and women's 2.3 years. Chronic severe stress seems to cause an inflammatory response in the body, which may increase the risk of serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

Eating Less Red Meat


A study published in BMJ found that consuming more red meat is associated with an increased risk of dying from eight common diseases (including cancer, diabetes and heart disease)—and from any cause at all. Analyzing health data from 537,000 adults, researchers found that people who consumed the most red meat had a 26 percent higher chance of dying than those who ate the least. People who ate the most white meat, including poultry and fish, were 25 percent less likely to die than people who consumed the least.

Nurturing Strong Relationships


"People who are in happier, more satisfying relationships live longer," Dr. Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, told CNN. "The most important predictor of who was going to be a healthy, happy octogenarian was how satisfied they were in their relationships."

Maintaining a Sense of Purpose


A 2019 study published in JAMA found a link between a strong sense of purpose in life and a lower risk of dying from any cause after age 50. Researchers tracked about 7,000 adults older than 50 for five years; they found participants who had the lowest life-purpose scores were twice as likely to have died than those with the highest scores. 

Avoiding Binge Drinking


Drinking alcohol to excess can imperil your health at any age. To stay healthy, experts recommend moderate drinking, meaning no more than one daily drink for women and two for men. 

Avoiding Opioid Addiction


Since 1999, more than a million people died from drug overdoses in America. In the last year, overdoses claimed 107,669 people, and the crisis is accelerating.

Exercising Your Brain


"Physical exercise and critical thinking both forge neural pathways in the brain," Dr. Brett Osborn, a board-certified neurosurgeon in West Palm Beach, Florida, said recently. "There is a component of learning while exercising or working through mental challenges like puzzles, and this process of learning literally rewires the brain." This may prevent the development of degenerative conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Owning a Dog


Looking at seven decades of studies, researchers at the University of Toronto found that dog ownership was associated with a 31 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease—and a 24 percent lower risk of death from any cause. Having an active, loving pet may reduce stress and encourage exercise.

Eating Fewer Processed Foods


In research published in PLOS Medicine, researchers found you can extend your life up to 13 years by swapping a Western diet for something close to Mediterranean. Scientists calculated how much longer a person might live if they replaced the typical Western diet (heavy in processed foods and red meat) with an "optimized diet" that nixed red or processed meat and sugar-sweetened beverages, included a limited amount of dairy and eggs, and emphasized fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. The researchers found that if a man started eating the optimized diet at age 20, he could add 13 years to his life, while a woman who did the same could add 10 years. Even starting the healthier diet at age 60 was found to lengthen life by nine and eight years for men and women respectively. 

Maintaining a Healthy Weight


Keeping your weight is a healthy range is crucial for longevity. Excess weight is associated with a higher risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Applying Sunscreen


Applying sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun's harmful UV rays can lower your risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, which is often deadly. 

Being a Careful Driver


Staying vigilant behind the wheel can reduce your chances of being involved in a potentially life-shortening road accident. 

Trying Time-Patterned Eating

Roast Chicken

"There is research showing the health benefits of restricting eating patterns with our natural circadian rhythm, limiting food to 8 to 12 hours a day and fasting the rest of the time," says Seema Bonney, MD, founder and medical director of the Anti-Aging & Longevity Center of Philadelphia. "Time-patterned eating has been shown to reduce inflammation, reverse type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease." 

Taking These Supplements


Osborn says these ten supplements can protect against age-related disease by preventing free radical damage, oxidative stress and chronic inflammation: Omega-3 fatty acids, resveratrol, green tea extract, vitamin D3, curcumin, B-complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and probiotics.

Assuming Responsibility for Your Health


Be vigilant about getting checked for potential health issues that can be addressed before they become full-blown problems, advises Osborn. "People who wait for their annual check-up to find out what's going on with their health are making a terrible mistake," he said. "A lot can go wrong in the year or two between visits to the doctor, and lack of persistent attention or procrastination can kill you."

Staying Positive


Having a positive view of aging is associated with living longer. According to one study done by Yale psychology professor Becca Levy, people who had positive self-perceptions about growing older lived 7.5 years longer and had lower rates of Alzheimer's disease better than people with more negative views. 

 RELATED: Surprising Signs You've Already Had COVID

Avoiding Tobacco


Tobacco doesn't just increase your risk for lung cancer, the #1 cause of preventable death in America. Tobacco smoke can damage the heart and walls of arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack, stroke, and dementia. 

Filed Under
 •  •  •