Dr. Kim Foster: Wicked Health


4 Easy Ways to Help You Live Longer

Add Years to your life, Starting Now.

Who doesn’t like the idea of a nice, long, healthy life?

To that end, I scoured the research recently and plucked out a few lifestyle changes that have been shown to boost longevity. And some of them, you’ll be happy to hear, are pretty easy to take on.

Go for a (short) walk.

Add a mere 15 minutes of exercise to your day, every day, and add 3 years to your life. So says a study published in The Lancet a few months ago. 15 minutes is so do-able, such a minimum amount, I think most of us can squeeze this in. Not convinced? Here are some ideas.

Put down the remote already.

A study published last summer in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that once you're over the age of 25, every hour of TV you watch reduces your life expectancy by 22 minutes. Personally, I'm not hugely surprised by this one. Not only do I swear I can feel my neurons dying while I'm watching TV, I know that by sitting there I'm not really doing anything useful for my health or my body. Plus there’s that other association, between TV viewing and, um, Cheetos.

(Is tv your go-to relaxation strategy, your main de-stresser? Try this instead.)

Get happy.

I’m doing a talk on “The Connection Between Health & Happiness” in a few weeks so I’ve been reading a lot about this one lately. And the research is impressive. Happy people live longer, have healthier hearts, recover from surgery faster, and many other health goodies.

But...easier said than done? The good news: there are very specific, well-studied ways to improve your happiness levels. Take gratitude, for example. Simply take a few minutes on a regular basis to jot down 3 things you’re thankful for (and they can be little things, like: daffodils sprouting in the garden...Gingerbread Lattes are back at Starbucks...having a good hair day...). This brief intervention has been shown to big-time increase your happiness, and as a consequence, your health.

Now, all this talk of happiness leads me to my last recommendation for today....

Shop, shop, shop.

I’m not kidding. A study in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that people over 65 who shopped every day had a 27% lower risk of death than the least frequent shoppers. I wrote all about this concept right here. There are many theories on why this one is beneficial—the socializing, the exercise, taking care of needs like getting prescription medication and buying fresh, healthy food. Whatever the reason, I like it. You?