Studies show that adopting these healthy habits can increase your odds of living longer and having better health.
Working out and eating healthy sounds good in theory, but in practice, it can get complicated. What does healthy entail and how many days a week are you supposed to work out before you quit because you had a dinner with friends or life got too complicated?
Popular Science compiled a list of habits supported by scientific evidence that everyone should follow if they want to live a healthier and longer life. Here are some of our favorites.
Maintaining a healthy body mass index
Your BMI is the number that compares your height and your weight and that indicates your level of body fat. In order to get your BMI, divide your weight by your height squared. Or use a BMI calculator online, which does all the math for you.
While BMI is relative to each person (it doesn’t account for muscle mass or body type), doctors use it to get a rough estimate of someone’s body fat. Studies found that people with BMIs of 18.5 — 22.9 have a higher chance of living longer than underweight or overweight people.
Work out every day
While working out every day sounds a little extreme, studies say that people who do this have a lower risk of developing some diseases, which usually leads to a longer lifespan. A daily workout can be as simple as walking vigorously for 30 minutes. Cardiovascular exercise prevents heart conditions, creates new heart cells, increases bone health, improves your mood and so much more. You know all of this, just do it.
Eat a high-quality diet
For one study, researchers dissected the food ingested by participants into its components. After breaking down the parts that make up the meal, participants were given points (on a 1—10 scale) depending on how close they adhered to the recommended servings of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, etc. Those who scored in the top 40% were deemed healthy eaters. The study concluded what we already knew, that poor diets result in poor blood pressure, overweight bodies, and high cholesterol levels.
It’s best to follow a reasonable diet that you can stick to — one that allows for occasional breaks and indulgences — than trying to follow a strict diet that makes you unhappy and stresses you out. The diet that has provided the best documented results is the Mediterranean diet, which puts a heavy focus on fruits, veggies, and unprocessed foods. Imagine that.
Take it easy with the alcohol
While research on this topic is limited and somewhat confusing, moderate drinkers have a better chance of living longer than heavy drinkers. The researchers defined moderate drinkers as those who consume 15 grams of alcohol a day for women and 30 grams a day for men. Whatever that amounts to is probably not a proper drink.
Copious amounts of evidence show that smoking is bad for your health, increasing the risk of developing cancer, lung disease and heart conditions. But you already knew all of that, right? Every piece of research points to these dire results. In fact, a decrease in smoking is one of the reasons why the average American lives longer now than they did 50 years ago. Put that in your pipe.