As more people reach their 90s and even become centenarians (aged 100+), we want to know more about how they’ve lived their entire lives. We want to know just what they’ve been doing to live to a ripe old age and what they might have been avoiding or doing differently.
Of course, genetics play their part, but it turns out that the secret to a long and healthy life lies in only several healthy habits.
Before we explore them, take a quick look at the average life expectancy in the UK, where people live well into their 90s and 100s.
Life Expectancy in the UK
According to the Office for National Statistics
, the average life expectancy in the UK is 79.4 years for men and 83.1 years for women.
Both male and female life expectancy keep improving every year, with the improvements of the latter slightly exceeding the former.
However, the UK is home to plenty of people that belong to the 90+ age group and a lot of centenarians.
The Office for National Statistics shows that there were 13,330 centenarians in the UK
in 2019, while the country counted more than 600,000 people aged 90+.
Is reaching a very old age one of your dreams? Simple changes to your lifestyle and diet can make a big impact, not only on longevity but the quality of your time in this world.
Here are the essential habits of enjoying a long, healthy, and happy life.
Good Sleeping Patterns
We know that sleep is essential for both your physical and mental health. While you sleep, your metabolism improves, your blood glucose levels regulate, and your brain gets rid of toxins.
However, that doesn’t mean you should sleep too much. That would be counterproductive and potentially lead to obesity, depression, and other health conditions.
Studies have shown that regular sleep patterns increase longevity
, which means hitting the hay and waking up at the same time every day.
That’s how you regulate your circadian rhythm, that is, the sleep-wake cycle. That’s your body’s internal clock that contributes to your overall health.
Drinking Coffee and Tea
Both coffee and tea are rich in antioxidants, although tea (primarily white, jasmine, green, and black tea) contains much more.
That’s one reason why drinking coffee and tea can boost your longevity. Another is that these beverages can help lower the risk of many diseases.
Numerous studies on the health effects of coffee
have shown that coffee drinkers are at a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, various liver diseases, and more.
The same goes for tea enthusiasts. Drinking tea can improve your cardiovascular health, boost your immune system, strengthen your bones, reduce your risk of diabetes, and more.
According to a European Society of Cardiology study
, drinking tea at least three times a week leads to a longer and healthier life.
How does being conscientious help you live a longer and healthier life? By being organised, persistent, efficient, disciplined, and responsible (especially when it comes to your health), you avoid stressing and taking unnecessary risks.
You also live a happier and better quality of life, which plays a big part in your overall health, thus increasing your longevity.
Science has even proved that conscientious people live longer
- 11.95% longer than unconscientious individuals.
Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Most people are aware that heavy alcohol consumption is harmful to your overall health, especially your heart and liver. However, moderate alcohol consumption can be good for you.
According to a meta-analysis of 34 studies on alcohol and mortality
, lower alcohol intake can improve your lifespan.
The analysis revealed that 1-2 drinks per day (women) and 2-4 drinks per day (men) could reduce total mortality by 18% in women and 17% in men.
This doesn’t mean that you should follow this particular alcohol dosing if you don’t usually drink alcohol. But if you do, it would be smart not to exceed it. Remember that alcohol is also addictive and frequent consumption can cause problems.
Air on the moderate to none and your health will thank you.
Staying Away from Tobacco
Smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the UK. Around 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking
That’s because tobacco severely damages the heart and lungs, leading to many diseases and medical conditions, including stroke, heart disease, COPD, and cancer.
Many studies on the hazards of smoking
have shown that life expectancy for smokers is at least ten years shorter than for non-smokers.
Another study on smoking cessation and longevity
found that kicking the habit can prolong one’s life. Men who quit smoking at 35 can boost longevity by 6.9-8.5 years, while women who do the same can live 6.1-7.7 years longer.
Stress is another trigger for numerous health problems, such as stroke, heart disease, and cancer. Always being under heavy stress can shorten your life by 2.8 years
Now, you may not always be able to avoid stress, but you can certainly learn to manage it.
Yoga, meditation, and exercise can help relieve stress, as well as a positive attitude, spending time with family and friends, and lots of laughter.
Work on Your Social Life
What better way to improve your life expectancy than to spend quality time with family and friends? Yes, that works!
A Harvard study
found that an active social life may increase your lifespan by up to 50%! Of course, the key is to have a social circle of quality people so that you avoid any kind of stress and genuinely enjoy your time together.
It may seem that longevity isn’t under your control, but these simple habits can help you increase it and enjoy a long, healthy, and happy life. Start following them today and - who knows - you may even hit that elusive triple figure.