Want to live longer? And as if you were younger? That’s what we call “living beautifully.” Now, what if we told you it was really, really, amazingly easy to do? It sounds like a con, but it’s not.
At the very root of living longer is leading a healthy life that’s fun. (No sour dour advice from us, here!) That means doing things that are good for you—eating lots of vegetables and getting physical activity every day—and avoiding things that, well, will kill you—things like smoking, eating too much sugar and saturated fat, and swimming in shark-infested waters.
In addition to these big-picture approaches to longevity, there are little things you can do on a daily basis that have been shown to add years to your life. How easy are these?
1. Run for five minutes a day.
That’s it. Just five minutes. In a large study of 55,137 adults, runners lived, on average, three years longer than non-runners. The benefits were the same no matter how long, far, frequently or fast participants reported running: Those who ran less than an hour per week have the same mortality benefits compared to runners who ran more than three hours per week.
2. Drink coffee.
An April 2014 review in the British Journal of Nutrition looked at 20 studies covering nearly 974,000 people. The overall findings came out in favor of java: Drinking coffee—especially three or more cups a day—was associated with lower risk of death by any cause. And now we know that if you do not have headaches, abnormal heartbeats, anxiety, or gastric upset from a cup of coffee, you are “genetically a fast metabolizer.” Fast metabolizers get all benefits from coffee, while slow metabolizers get all side effects.
3. Take responsibility.
Research from the 1970s shows that it’s never too late to take responsibility for your own health and well-being. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that nursing home residents who took on responsibility—for instance, caring for a plant or choosing the flick for movie night—lived longer than those who relied on staff to make their decisions for them.
It’s estimated that 27 percent of Americans volunteer—and they may get back as much as they give. A review of multiple studies found that people who volunteer have a 20 percent reduction in mortality, plus lower levels of depression, higher life satisfaction and generally enhanced well-being. The researchers determined that the quality of life enhancements hinged on volunteers feeling like they’re benefitting emotionally from the work.
5. Have great sex.
Duke University research spanning 25 years found that one of the most significant predictors of longevity for women was how much they enjoyed sex over the course of their lives. That, along with high health satisfaction and good physical function, helped add 23 years to womens lives, on average.
6. Look on the not-so-bright side sometimes.
A positive attitude is a powerful tool in your wellness arsenal, but so is a little healthy pessimism. People who are more realistic—that is, less idealistic—about their lives are more cautious, more prepared for difficulty and they tend to live longer than their optimistic peers.
7. Stand up!
In a May 2014 study, researchers analyzed data from the Canada Fitness Survey and found that, for people who don’t exercise regularly, more time spent standing was linked with lower mortality from cardiovascular disease and death from “other causes” in a linear fashion. In other words, more standing, less dying.