11 Science-Backed Ways to Add Years to Your Life

How to live longer while staying healthy

When you’re young, it might feel like you have plenty of time to make your mark on the world. You have your entire life ahead of you, and your 80s feel like a lifetime away.

As you grow older and more mature, you start thinking about how you want to live a long, full life. You want to be there for your grandkids’ weddings, visit those distant countries you’ve been meaning to see, and soak up as much time as possible in this crazy, beautiful world.

Living to be 100 isn’t a given, even for those who have excellent genes. Longevity is largely dependent on your lifestyle choices and habits, so you actually have a lot of control over how long you live. And no matter how old you are, it’s not too late to start implementing these healthy habits so you can have a long, fulfilling life.

1. Get on board with a healthy diet

It’s time to bite the bullet and start eating better. Studies show plant-based diets such as the Mediterranean diet can make you live longer. Focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains to improve your overall health.

You also might want to try intermittent fasting as a way to extend your life. Because this practice reduces your risk of several diseases, it can help you live to a ripe old age.

2. Exercise every day

You’re probably not going to be able to reach 100 years of life if you stay sedentary. And no, you don’t have to become a marathon runner either. Research points to the possibility of adding three years to your life by exercising just 15 minutes a day.

If you can build yourself up to exercising for more than 15 minutes a day, you’ll experience even more benefits. And getting outside whenever possible is super important. Absorbing enough vitamin D can make a huge difference in your health.

3. Make friends

Keeping to yourself might align with your personality, but it’s not doing you any favors when it comes to living longer. Don’t worry, I’m not saying you can never have any alone time. According to this study, having just three social ties can increase your lifespan by 200%.

Make sure you always surround yourself with a supportive community. If you move to a new place, don’t wait to make connections. Our society might be more individualistic than ever, so it’s going to take some effort for you to expand your social circle. You can do it! 

4. Sleep well and nap often

If you’ve been living in a sleep-deprived state for a while, you’ve probably noticed the toll it takes on your health. It’s no wonder that poor sleep can negatively impact your lifespan. In fact, sleeping for 5-7 hours a night can increase your risk of early death by as much as 12%.

What about naps? Because napping can help you relax, it can be a great way to supplement your nightly sleep, particularly after nights when you just can’t get a full 8 hours.

5. Don’t be stressed

I know it’s easier said than done, but taking steps to reduce stress in your life can make you live longer. Studies have found that both men and women can suffer early mortality due to chronic stress. Take a few minutes to figure out what is causing you the most stress. Is it your job, your kids, your friends? Consider how you can take a break from stressful situations.

It’s also wise to develop strategies that help you cope with stress. One of my favorites is daily meditation. If you want to relax even more, try Hapbee’s Zen Companion blend to gain mental clarity and freedom from stress.

6. Stay with your partner

Did you know being married can extend your life? This is due to the benefits of emotional intimacy and partnership. Also, having sex 2-3 times a week can relieve stress and increase your health in a variety of ways.

Of course, if you’re in an abusive or highly stressful relationship, that might have the opposite effect on your longevity. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, make sure to find a safe place for yourself and your kids.

7. Get spiritual and find your purpose

It’s hard to live a long time when you feel like life is meaningless. One study found that attending a weekly worship service can decrease your chances of early mortality by 33%. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a church, but it should be some kind of spiritual community that can provide support for you.

In addition to finding this kind of community, you should put some effort into discovering a meaningful purpose in your life. Whether it’s serving on the board of a charity or becoming a foster parent, you’ll live longer if you’re involved in something bigger than yourself.

8. Turn off Netflix

How many hours of TV do you watch a day? If it’s more than six hours, you’re at risk of dying almost five years earlier than people who watch no TV. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stop watching altogether, but you should definitely limit your streaming to an hour or two per day.

If you’re used to watching a show to relax after work (which inevitably turns into three or four episodes), try to replace this habit with something screenless. You might try reading a book or listening to a podcast to help you unwind. Or find a creative hobby you can look forward to doing each day after work.

9. Find a furry companion

Did you know that owning a pet can actually help you live longer? According to research, having a pet lowers your risk of heart disease. Whether it’s a cat, dog, or turtle, you’ll find meaning in taking care of them. And the cuddles certainly don’t hurt.

If you’re not a pet person, try investing in the kids in your life. Whether it’s your grandkids or kids in your neighborhood, being involved in their lives will give you purpose. You can offer to help out with childcare or buy little gifts to show you care.

10. Look on the bright side

It turns out that looking at the glass as half full does have a tangible impact on your life. Studies have found that optimists live longer than pessimists. If you’re a natural cynic, try beginning a gratitude practice to make you more positive.

Laughing often can increase your lifespan as well. Laughter relieves stress, so don’t hold back when something tickles you. Make an effort to surround yourself with people who make you laugh and encourage you to enjoy life.

11. Cut down on substance use

I know this is probably the last thing you want to hear, but high amounts of alcohol consumption can result in early death. Fortunately, you don’t need to give up drinking completely. Having a drink or two a day shouldn’t shorten your life.