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Inheriting good genes is a good start for a long healthy life. Since this factor nobody controls – it’s hereditary –, it’s up to lifestyle. Choosing healthy habits can make all the difference today and in the future.

10 suggestions to live better and longer:

  1. Volunteering: Older adults who are engaged in meaningful activity and feel a sense of purpose in life tend to have lower rates of mortality and better health. For example, research shows that 100 hours of volunteer work per year increase the quality of mental and physical health. An objective like this promotes a positive life.

  2. Social connections: Isolation is a serious health risk for older adults. It contributes to everything from depression to higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Staying connected with family and friends through social networks and online chat services, such as Skype and WhatsApp, yields positive health benefits and keeps people on the go.

  3. Physical activity: A sedentary lifestyle puts you at risk for chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular dysfunctions. It’s recommended that you do physical activities for 30 to 45 minutes each day as preventive care, since it will cut your risk for health conditions. Want proof of this? Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa Islands (Japan), Loma Linda (California), Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica) and Ikaria (Greece) are part of a select group called Blue Zones, areas of the world where people live longer, because their inhabitants lead active lifestyles, built around natural movements, such as gardening, walking, swimming and cycling.

  4. Spirituality: Feeding the spirit is just as important for the body as having good eating habits. The practice provides balance to the mind and consequently the body as a whole. It reduces stress and provides a feeling of well-being, which helps reduce the development of diseases. It is used as an aid in treating chronic depression. But spirit-feeding doesn’t necessarily mean organized religion. Engaging in activities such as meditation, watercolor painting and gardening can all nourish the spirit. Life with the soul is rich and full.

  5. Accessibility: Having a well-planned home also helps your quality of life. Good lighting, flooring that’s easy to walk on, senior friendly bathrooms and safe stairs can help prevent elderly from falling – considered the main cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for people over 65. The home should also be a place for you to relax and enjoy life, and be a safe haven from daily concerns.

  6. Good nutrition: Seniors are more likely to have poor nutrition than younger adults, especially those who live alone. Problems arranging transportation, difficulty preparing meals and a tighter budget are just a few of the reasons why. A poor diet can lead to higher incidences of falls, problems with wounds healing, and a weakened immune system that increases the risk for illness and infection. Eating well increases appetite for life.

  7. Quality in relationships: Establishing and strengthening true affective ties with family members and friends. It’s important to be surrounded by optimistic people, because this helps have a more positive life. Additionally, family maintains the connection between past and future, with memories and hope – which enrichens and deepens daily life. It is still true: nobody is an island.

  8. Infant game: One of the 10 Principles of a Life Worth Living, developed by the Eden Alternative Institute, in the United States, highlights the fundamental role that children play in the quality of life of senior citizens. In summary, intergenerational relationships help the elderly feel that life is worthwhile. Children should be seen, listened to, and involved.

  9. Always laugh: Laughing is still the best remedy. A good laugh can lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system and reduce pain. It can also reduce stress, a factor associated to cardiac diseases and cancer.

  10. Brain health: There’s growing proof that shows that the key to good health in general resides in maintaining the brain healthy. Over the last decade, it’s been proven that there’s much more than crossword puzzles for improving cognition. That includes good nutrition, stress management and exercising. All this multiplicity of information we live with today can have a negative impact. The brain has not evolved to deal with more than one task at a time. Note: we saved brain health for last on the list, since it’s the most important one to remember.

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