Your odds of living longer are higher than previous generations, mostly by virtue of being born in a time where advanced medical treatment is able to keep us healthier longer. To maximize your chances of seeing triple digits, there are a few things you can do. As you work hard to build your business and care for your family, it’s equally important that you put work into maintaining your body.
But how can you know if you’re doing what it takes to extend your life? Here are 15 signs you’re likely to live well into old age.
1. Your community has plenty of small businesses.
An interesting study from professors at Louisiana State and Baylor Universities revealed that communities with larger concentrations of small businesses tend to have lower mortality rates than areas filled with big-box retailers. This reinforces the value of a sense of community for overall health. The researchers theorized that the strong entrepreneurial culture in these businesses benefits a community’s overall health. These findings contradicted earlier thinking that large businesses are better for towns due to the economic development they bring to the area.
2. You have the right personality.
How would others describe you? One study found that men who were described as conscientious and open to experiences were more likely to live longer, while women who were agreeable and emotionally stable tended to have longer lives.
3. You eat the right foods.
What you put in your mouth each day could more directly impact your lifespan than you realize. Several foods have been linked to longer life, including foods with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
4. You’re happily married.
Several studies have found that marriage benefits a person’s longevity, including one Duke University study that suggests individuals who have never married are twice as likely to die prematurely. However, this benefit has also been witnessed in men more than women. Some experts believe that women are more likely to form supportive relationships outside of an intimate relationship, giving them some of the same benefits they might also have gotten from being in love.
5. You floss.
Flossing doesn’t just shorten your dental visits. It also can lengthen your life. Some say regular flossing can add up to six years to a person’s life. By removing particles from between your teeth, you’ll help reduce the risk of bacterial infections that can lead to deadly diseases.
6. Your mom was young when she had you.
If your mother was under the age of 25 when she had you, your likelihood of living to 100 is significantly higher than if she was 25 or older. Scientists believe this could relate to the quality of a mother’s eggs when she’s younger as opposed to older.
7. You have children.
If you think your children are taking years off your life, stop worrying. Studies have found that dads are less likely to die of heart disease than childless men. For moms, the key to long life could be in the number of children they choose to have. One study found that not only do moms live longer than childless women, but the more children they have, the longer their life expectancy.
8. You stand.
If you sit at a desk all day, the key to lengthening your life could be one of those standing desks. Research indicates that standing has the effect of lengthening a person’s telomeres, which cause cells to die when they get too short.
9. You stay out of the sun.
As the most common form of cancer in the U.S., skin cancer risks are no laughing matter. But most people only use sunscreen when they plan to be in the sun. To increase your longevity, choose products that include UV protection for daily wear, including moisturizers and lotions.
10. You exercise.
There’s no shortage of studies showing exercise reduces health problems and leads to longevity. The question is exactly what type of exercise you should do? Some studies show running lengthens life and others show that in excess, running can actually shorten a person’s life. The key to success with any kind of exercise appears to be moderation. Too much exercise can do more harm than good, experts say.
11. You sleep.
Perhaps equally beneficial, and more fun than exercise, is sleep. Eight hours of sleep per night can stave off serious illnesses and lead to a longer, healthier life.
12. You drink plenty of coffee.
If you spend most of your day filling your coffee cup, you may actually be a step ahead of your non-coffee-drinking associates. Studies have shown that drinking coffee not only extends a person’s life but also helps stave off illnesses like Alzheimer’s and diabetes. To credit for these health benefits is coffee’s antioxidants, which prevent damage to the body’s molecules. One study of more than 400,000 people aged 50-71 found that those who drank the most coffee were less likely die over a period of 12-13 years.
Related: The Benefits Of Coffee
13. You don’t over eat.
In America, children are rewarded for eating every last morsel. However, Japanese people who live to be 100 often engage in a practice called hara hachi bu, which tells participants to eat until they are 80 percent full. The key to living longer may be in simply eating less food at each meal.
14. You volunteer.
Giving back to your community can be beneficial to you, as well. I've been helping for years with the Open to Hope foundation where they are helping people deal with the death of a child. Studies have found that volunteerism lengthens a person’s life as long as the activities have the right motives behind them. For best results, your volunteer efforts should be motivated by altruism or a desire for a connection with others.
15. You know how to manage stress.
Stress is very detrimental to a person’s health. For busy professionals, it’s important to find methods to cope with stress, whether through activities like meditation or through simply taking time to do what you enjoy.
By living well and spending time with others, you’ll enjoy a longer, happier life. Start slowly by making small changes in your life and you’ll likely find healthier behaviors are easier than you’d imagined.