PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Exercise and eating a balanced diet are things we all know we should be doing to be healthier, and even live longer.
But AARP has put together a list of some of the other changes you may want to consider. Things you may never have thought of before.
According to AARP’s “50 Ways to Live a Longer, Healthier Life,” genetics only accounts for 25 percent of how long we live. The rest is up to you.
— You Need to Read
AARP says research shows reading helps you live longer. Gabi Redford is Executive Editor with AARP: “Reading just 30 minutes a day can add up to two years to your life.”
— Getting a Pet
Studies show pets that can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, even give you a better chance of surviving a heart attack!
The American Heart Association even says that having a dog in particular, likely lowers the risk of heart disease.
We asked Dr. Marc Itskowitz from Allegheny Health Network why pets seem to help.
“Perhaps it’s the physical activity associated with walking a dog or perhaps it’s the reduction stress. The companionship,” said Dr. Itskowitz.
— Sex is Good
While getting enough sleep is important, AARP says when you go to bed, you might not want to go right to sleep.
It cites a study that concluded frequent sex was a significant predictor of longevity in men.
— Getting Married or Staying Married
Studies show that being married is good for you, particularly for your heart.
“Patients who are married and stay married actually have a survival advantage,” said Dr. Itskowitz.
It’s no joke. Laughter really is medicine.
It’s been shown to reduce stress, even boost your immune system.
“There’s been some studies that laughter actually increases blood flow, increases blood flow to your brain,” said Redford.
— Go on Vacation
“Not taking time off work can actually be deadly,” said Redford.
One well-known study showed women with fewer vacations are more likely to have a heart attack.
— Toss Your Throw Rugs
“We know that throw rugs are a potential risk for falls, especially as people get older,” said Dr. Itskowitz.
“Throw rugs actually send about 38,000 people to the E.R. every year,” said Redford.
— Pick a Female Doctor
A Harvard study shows hospital patients with doctors who are women are more likely to survive.
“Women tend to be better communicators, and they tend to follow clinical guidelines more closely,” said Redford.
— Drink Coffee
If you like coffee, drink up!
AARP cites research showing coffee reduces your risk of stroke, diabetes and some cancers.
“Drinking it up to a certain level is probably healthy,” said Dr. Itskowitz.
— Having Faith
AARP says research shows attending religious services once a week, adds between four and 14 years to your life.
— Have a Purpose
Getting up with a purpose each day is on the list, too.
Whether it’s your job, volunteer work or spending time with your kids, studies show having something to look forward to can add years to your life.
— Live Like the Amish
AARP says we can all learn from the Amish ways of life. In fact, a study found Amish men live longer than non-Amish.
“They don’t drink a lot, they don’t smoke, and they don’t indulge in some of these bad behaviors as well,” said Redford.
— Spice It Up
Add a little spice to your food. AARP says research shows eating hot chili peppers can add years to your life.
And if that’s too intense, even a little spice may help.
— Be Social
Finally, the more social you are, the better.
AARP cites a study that shows being close to friends and family may lower your risk of dying by as much as 50 percent.
“We know that socially-connected people are much more likely to have along healthy life,” said Redford.
Dr. Itskowitz says in his opinion, the science on some of these ideas affecting longevity is a little slim and more research needs to be done. However, he says it’s all good advice.
For the complete list compiled by AARP: http://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2017/50-ways-to-live-longer.html