None of us can predict how long we’re going to live. Accidents and injuries can cut life short and illnesses and diseases can affect us that we have no control over- sometimes it really is just luck of the draw. However there are plenty of things that we CAN do to give us the best chance of a long and healthy life. Many of the causes of death each year relate to conditions and problems that were entirely preventable, so it’s important to take responsibility of your own safety and health. After all, we only get one life so why not make it as good as it can be. Why risk cutting it short and losing that time with loved ones when you don’t have to? Here are some of the things that will make a genuine difference and could extend your life.
The food we eat plays a massive role in our overall health. Being overweight of course comes with its own set of problems- high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and more. But even if you’re slim, if you don’t eat well it doesn’t mean to say you’re healthy. Work on getting into the right bmi for your height, and then clean up your diet. It should be predominantly fresh produce, lean protein, low fat dairy and whole grains. It’s not to say you can’t have a bit of what you want, but consuming too much salt, sugar and saturated fat will have a detrimental effect on your body.
The 80/20 rule is a good one to follow, if you eat well for eighty percent of the time it means you can indulge now and again without it having too much of an effect on your health and weight. Find healthy foods you enjoy, for example if you don’t particularly enjoy eating whole fruit- whizz it up into a smoothie. A banana, some berries, some goji berries and a handful of spinach whizzes up into a tasty sweet smoothie which is full of nutrition and perfect for breakfast.
You could add some fruit juice, some yoghurt, some oats or whatever else you fancied to tailor it. If you’re not the biggest fan of vegetables, find ways to incorporate them into your meals in a way you’ll enjoy. If you use a food processor you can very finely chop mushroom, onion, carrot, courgette and other veggies and mix these in with ground meat to make things like bolognese, lasagne or chilli. When everything comes together with the sauce and spices you can hardly taste the vegetables but means you use less meat and they pack a punch with nutrition.
Exercise and weight are closely linked, but exercise is important in it’s own right. Even if you’re at a healthy weight, you should still incorporate exercise into your life as it’s extremely beneficial to health. Cardio exercise will work your heart and lungs, which will improve fitness and endurance and stop you from feeling exhausted and sluggish doing your day to day activities.
Exercise strengthens your bones, improves your immune system, reduces cholesterol and improves mental health too. It positively impacts just about every cell in your body. If getting up at 6am and going for a run every morning doesn’t appeal- don’t force yourself to do that! There’s more to exercise than torturing yourself at the gym or on freezing cold runs. You could sign up to a sport or a class- you can do anything from Zumba to boxercise to boogie bounce on a mini trampoline. There are tonnes of fun and unusual ones. Even activities like laser tag and paintball are fantastic for getting some exercise, round up your group and arrange outings where you can socialise and exercise like this at the same time.
Give Up Your Vices and Addictions
One thing that most elderly people have in common is that that don’t smoke, drink or have dangerous vices. While some people are very lucky and do these things into their eighties and beyond, as a general rule these kinds of habits do result in death far sooner than this. Smoking is responsible for sixteen different types of cancers, it also increases blood pressure, cholesterol, the chances of stroke and diabetes amongst other things. Alcohol increases the likelihood of stroke, diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, esophageal cancer, and compromised immune system. Not to mention accidental death that can be caused by intoxication. Illegal drugs can compromise the system even more quickly. Injection drugs come with their own specific risks due to contamination- whether it’s an infectious disease from another person or bacteria on the needle entering the body and causing issues like endocarditis.
Most drugs will cause hardening of the arteries, heart problems, liver problems and severe mental health issues. Sign up to an intensive outpatient program for rehabilitation if you’re currently dealing with addiction, you will prevent yourself from becoming extremely ill and unhappy and stop your life from being cut short. Once you’ve broken free from the shackles of addiction you’re free to get on with the rest of your life.
Finally, taking care of your health is important but you will also need to pay attention to safety. This means things like being careful when driving or operating machinery. Taking precautions when using power tools, knives or anything else. Lots of deaths occur each year due to surprisingly simple accidents that could have been avoided. In a workplace situation, make sure you’re given the right training. Don’t drive if you’ve been drinking, are overly tired or emotional. Don’t lean out of windows and be careful at heights. Have carbon monoxide and fire alarms installed into your home. If something is dangerous, even if you’ve done it lots of times before always take the right precautions.
What sort of things are you doing right now to allow yourself to live a long and healthy life in the future?