Four Simple Habits that will Help You Live Longer According to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
After an eight-year study that followed 6,200 men and women across the United States, a team of eight researchers with the lead authors being from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine concluded that the individuals who adopted these four ‘common-sense lifestyle behaviors’ were better protected against coronary heart disease and the early buildup of calcium deposits in their heart arteries.2
Not only did engaging in these four habits protect against heart disease and calcium deposits, but it found that actively adding and maintaining them in their lifestyles reduced their chance of death from preventative medical causes by 80 percent.2 The individuals who saw the most significant benefits were those that followed all four of the habits.
These are the four simple habits that will help you live a longer, healthier life:
1. Stay at a healthy weight
Though it may seem obvious, most would agree that this ‘common-sense lifestyle behaviour’ should be taken seriously.
During the study, the researchers noted that the healthiest people maintained a body mass index (BMI) - which uses an individual’s height and weight to calculate body mass, of less than 25.2
Following habits 2 and 3 may help you stay at your optimal weight.
It’s essential to get both aerobic activities and strength training in your weekly exercise routine. Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity) or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity throughout the week is recommended. It would also be best if you did additional strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least twice in the same time period.5
Don’t worry if this seems like a lot of exercise- even small amounts of physical activity help your overall health as you progress towards the recommended amount. Doing activity and being active for even short bursts of time during the day can add up to significant health and wellness benefits.
3. Maintain a healthy diet
A healthy diet is essential for both long-term and short-term health and nutrition. Eating properly protects against many chronic non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. A variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugars, and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats are essential for a healthy diet as well.6
The study itself found that the healthiest people followed a Mediterranean-style diet. The traditional Mediterranean-type diet is based on an eating pattern historically found in the countries in the Mediterranean region- particularly in Crete, Greece, and southern Italy.7
This diet is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, tree nuts with healthy oils, fish (and less red meats), whole-grain carbs, and olive oil for cooking.2
4. Say no to smoking
Not only does smoking cause approximately 7 out of every 10 cases of lung cancer, but smoking also damages the lungs, heart, and blood circulation (which leads to an increased risk of coronary heart diseases, heart attacks, strokes), decreases fertility in both men and women and may cause impotence in men.3
The main ingredient is nicotine. This mood-altering drug reaches your brain quickly after smoking, and though it makes you feel more energized for a little while, as soon as the effects wear off, you’ll start to feel tired and crave more.4 These addictive qualities of nicotine are what make smoking challenging to quit.
Though not included in the study, it’s important to note that breathing in secondhand smoke, which is also known as passive smoking, increases your risk by 25 percent of getting the same health conditions as smokers.3