There's a not so well kept secret for living a long life. There's no special formula nor is there a hidden message. It's pretty simple, actually - try to be healthy.

But trying to be healthy and being healthy are often two completely different concepts. In a world where everything has "healthy," "low fat," or "organic" printed across the label, it can be hard to see through the noise and actually find a plan and stick to it.

Don't worry, we're going to try to help you out with these 10 tips to being healthy and possibly even living longer.

Healthy Habits That Actually Help You

woman eating salad

Getting and staying healthy is easier said than done, especially as we get older, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to take note of these helpful tips. If you want to live long enough to see your great-grandchildren or great-great-grandchildren, pay attention to these healthy lifestyle habits.

Don't Smoke

This should be a no-brainer, smoking is bad for you. Still, millions of people continue to smoke even when they know they are actively taking days, weeks, months, and even years off their life expectancy.

According to Harvard Medical School, smoking contributes to heart disease, osteoporosis, emphysema and other chronic lung problems, stroke, and numerous other conditions that will prevent you from living an exceptionally long life.

To make matters worse, research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that mortality among both male and female smokers in the United States is about three times higher than among similar people who never smoked. The research goes on to show that smokers, on average, have a life expectancy of 10 years shorter than nonsmokers.

But fret not. If you quit smoking by the time you're 40 years old, your risk of dying from a smoking-related disease is reduced by as much as 90%. Going back to the information provided by Harvard Medical School, after a smoker quits, the risk of heart disease begins to drop within a few months, and in five years, it is almost like they never smoked. The same can be said about the effect of quitting on strokes and some forms of cancer.

Exercise Daily - It Impacts More Than Your Body

We've long been taught that the secret to a healthy body is daily exercise, but did you know that it does wonders for your mental state as well?

According to the American Psychological Association, psychologists are beginning to incorporate physical activity into sessions with their clients after discovering that these types of therapy sessions often help patients relax and open up better than they would in what people often view as a typical therapy session.

Just imagine how you feel after a run or moderately intensive workout after a stressful day. Don't you feel better? That's because exercise can have a mood enhancement effect on our brains. While it's often viewed as a short-term effect or "runner's high," the truth is that exercise can have an impact on long-term depression and anxiety.

Depression and anxiety are now believed to be detrimental to your health and can even increase the risk of death, so if exercise is an effective method of keeping our anxieties, episodes of severe depression, and other mental health conditions at bay, we can live longer, healthier, less stressful lives.

Stick To A Healthy Diet

There's a reason we were taught the fundamentals of the food pyramid and portion control when we were growing up. By sticking to a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and lean forms of protein while also avoiding unsaturated fats and trans fats, our bodies will thank us and reward us with better quality of life and longevity.

It's no surprise that sticking to a healthy diet is nothing but advantageous to your health, especially as you age. Our diets affect our hearts, muscular systems, bones, and even our brains, and sticking to a healthy, fact-based dietary regime can help keep all of those vital organs and bodily functions in check.

With the option living a longer, healthier, and more productive life instead of succumbing to the effects of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, the choice is clear.

Moderate Your Alcohol Intake

This one might ruffle a few feathers, but it's better to help someone prolong their life than sit by the wayside and let them drink themselves to an untimely death.

According to a study published in The Lancet, concluded that just one extra drink of alcohol can shave months - possibly even years - off your life. Researchers looked at 83 studies comparing people who didn't drink versus those who were "current drinkers." After studying tens of thousands of subjects, the researchers concluded that people who consumed between 14 and 25 drinks a week were likely to have 1 to 2 years taken off their lifespan, and a consumption of over 25 drinks per week resulted in 4 to 5 fewer years.

Follow Preventative Care And Screening Guidelines

The best way to fight off a life threatening disease is to prevent it in the first place and that starts with preventative health screenings and health consultations with your physician. There are more benefits than drawbacks in this regard because preventative care saves money, and your life, in the long run by nipping it at the bud, so to speak, instead of allowing things like heart disease, cancer, or any other condition from blooming into a monster that can't be fought back.

A study published by the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health came to the conclusion that preventative health screenings and consultations in primary care for subjects ranging from 30 to 49 years of age produce "significantly better life expectancy without extra direct and total costs over a six-year follow-up period."

The CDC states that regular check-ups are important to your health, which has an impact on your life expectancy for the same reasons stated above.

MedlinePlus, a service operated by the United States Library of Medicine put together a list of recommended health services as well as when each is recommended:

  • Blood Pressure Screening - Once every 2 years
  • Cholesterol Screening And Heart Disease Prevention - Every 5 years
  • Physical Exam - Every 1 to 2 years

"Healthy Habits" Under Disguise

older couple exercising outdoors

There are a ton of healthy habits and other tips out in the world, but there are just as many - if not more - "healthy" habits that are nothing more than wolves in sheep's clothing. Here are some of the things you should avoid if you want to promote longevity in life.

Being Fooled By "Healthy" Food Labels

Just because a label is printed with words like "healthy," "low fat," or "natural," it doesn't mean that it's good for you. Instead of focusing on the labels, make a habit out of studying the ingredients list to see if the foods you're putting into your body are actually good for you.

Those "natural" foods that are all the craze as of late aren't necessarily natural. The Food and Drug Administration doesn't define the term, so food makers are allowed to use such labeling as long as they don't include added colors, artificial flavors, or other synthetic substances.

Going On A Lengthy Juice Cleanse Or Detox

Go to any health blog and it won't take any time at all before you find some long-form think piece on the benefits of a 5-day, 7-day, or even 30-day juice cleanse. The benefits of those cleanses, and other detox methods, should be taken with a grain of salt.

By juicing fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients, you often miss out on the nutrients like fiber, fats, and protein, leaving you with a sugary boost of energy that causes spikes in blood sugar levels. By eliminating crucial nutrients, cleanses can cause you to feel weak due to the breakdown of muscle tissue and other key bodily functions.

Not Eating Before A Workout

It's never a good idea to go into a workout with nothing in your stomach. There's been a longstanding theory that working out on an empty stomach burns more fat, but experts will tell you that the body actually needs nourishment to reach its full potential.

Working out with no food in your system can cause your body to break down the sugars in your muscle tissue instead of fat reserves, which will cause your muscles to break down over time.

Cramming Exercise Like Crazy Before A Special Event

As with all things in life, moderation is key to a good workout routine. You're going to want to take it easy and work your way into a routine opposed to jumping into a plan that is above your skill and energy level if you're trying to get in shape for a special event like a wedding.

If you're simply cramming to reach a certain goal, you're not allowing yourself the time to see how your body responds to the exercises and you won't have the opportunity to learn something along the way. It's similar to cramming for a final exam in school. If you take it slow and steady and stick to a little bit along the way, you're more likely to understand the exercises opposed to remembering them.

Drinking Wine To "Relax"

Finally, we have perhaps the most controversial habit to give up if you want to live a longer life: you should probably stop drinking wine to "relax" or "cope" with the stresses of your life.

Wine is a depressant, which slows your heartbeat and breathing, making you feel "relaxed." When we're in that kind of state of mind, we tend to not worry as much, which isn't the best type of behavior when you're trying to cope with something that's happening in your life.

And sure, a glass of wine isn't going to hurt you all that much, but who drinks a single glass of wine when they're extremely stressed? No one. That's who.

running shoes on pavement

Remember this: if you want to live a long and healthy life and get to meet your great-grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren, just take it easy and stay on top of your health. Go to the doctor for check-ups, don't drink away your anxieties, work out at a steady pace, and watch what you put in your body.

Most of all, just try to take it one day at a time and don't let the stresses of your life outweigh the things that bring you happiness and joy.

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