Live Long & Prosper: 10 Habits that can Add Years to Your Life
By Don Otis –
By the year 2050, the U.S. will have more than 600,000 people over the age of 100. This is more than ten times the number in 2010 (i). Moses lived to be 120, climbed to the top of a mountain (Mt. Nebo in present day Jordan) and died. Deuteronomy 34:7 (NIV) says, “His eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.” I like that bit of detail because it tells us that Moses remained vibrant right up to the end.
While living to 100 may not be your greatest aspiration, the bigger question is “What factors determine how long you will live?” Perhaps the biggest factor is your family history or genetic makeup. Routine checkups and preemptive lifestyle choices can quash what might have been an early death sentence just a few decades ago. But here are ten other factors that lead to longevity.
A whopping 37 percent of men are sedentary (ii). Exercise is at the top of the list for those who live longer and healthier lives. The key is aerobic fitness which simply means getting your heart and lungs working through running, cycling, swimming, or hiking. One out of every two men will develop heart disease at some point in his life (slightly less for women). Aerobic exercise helps offset heart disease by increasing the flow of blood throughout the body.
A second and often neglected element of healthy living is how you deal with anger. Are you quick to hold grudges, scream at someone who cuts you off, or react to unpleasant or frustrating circumstances with a rush of anger-inducted adrenalin? Anger raises our blood pressure and places us at greater risk of having a stroke or incurring heart disease.
A third ingredient to longevity is maintaining good relationships. A healthy marriage and the love that goes with it is a major indicator of lasting health. This includes our relationships with children, grandchildren, co-workers and friends. A toxic relationship, especially a marriage, can create stress. This weakens our immune system, which makes us vulnerable to disease.
A forth factor that can shorten your life is stress. Perhaps you have heard the comment, “Stress kills.” The way we learn to deal with the difficulties of life can either add to or detract from our life expectancy. The greatest stressors are often those we have no control over (a prodigal child, the choices of our mate, etc). Learn to control the things you can in life and let God take care of the rest.
Fifth, be born female. Women live longer.
Sixth, have wealth. The more money you have, the better health care you can afford.
Seventh, pray. Prayer is a natural way to relieve stress.
Eighth, maintain a healthy weight. Too much weight, either due to lack or exercise or overeating, is lethal. Obesity will rob 13 years from your life.
Ninth, maintain healthy skin by protecting it from ultraviolet rays. When you are in the sun for extended periods of time, use an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.
Finally, eat in a healthy way. This means limiting overall consumption and adding fruits, grains, and vegetables. Likewise, this also means limiting excessive alcohol intake.
Our bodies are marvelously designed. They are incredibly resilient machines but like all machines, they won’t last forever. Learn to be a good steward of the equipment God has given you. Treat it with respect and you will live longer and find more joy in living.
(i) “This Baby May Well Live to 100”, National Geographic, November 2011
(ii) Laura Roberson, “Your Healthiest Year Ever,” Men’s Health, January/February 2011