This article was updated on August 31, 2021.
In fact, the U.S. ranked 31st in the world for life expectancy back in 2015. Thankfully for us, this has more to do with adopted habits than it does with environmental factors or medical advancements—with an adherence to healthy lifestyle factors thought to boost longevity by a decade.
A 2018 study from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which was over 30 years in the making, has managed to narrow down the top five habits and priorities you should work into your everyday life if you want to live as long and as healthy as possible.
“This study underscores the importance of following healthy lifestyle habits for improving longevity in the U.S. population,” said Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study.
“However, adherence to healthy lifestyle habits is very low. Therefore, public policies should put more emphasis on creating healthy food, built, and social environments to support and promote healthy diet and lifestyles.”
With that in mind, here are the top five science-backed habits you should be aiming for if you want to extend your lifespan and live as healthy as possible.
Eat your fruits and vegetables
While should come as no real surprise, eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins is vital to maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle—but that doesn’t mean there’s a one-size fits all approach to eating well.
When it comes to healthy food, it’s different for every person. According to Caleb Backe and I am a Certified Personal Trainer and Health Expert, there are definitely ingredients that are bad for everyone like sugar, but some people can tolerate more sugar than others.
“Therefore to say one thing is not actually healthy doesn’t truly apply to everyone, for example, some people need to eat fattier foods because they need to gain weight.” The problem is when food advertises itself as healthy when there’s no way it would be considered healthy by most nutritionists.
Move your body daily
Whether you’re going for leisurely walks in the evening or you’re getting in a full-body workout on the daily, moving your body every single day is key to feeling and looking your best. Even when you’re confined to your home, it’s important to eat well and move your body.
“At-home workouts are crucial,” says productivity expert Samantha Warren.
“And while working from home, it should be even easier to make healthy eating choices because you have access to your kitchen whenever you want. Take advantage of the opportunity to eat at home and cook nutritious meals too!”
Maintain a healthy body weight
According to the Harvard study, weight control significantly reduced the risk of diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular risk factors and breast cancer—this doesn’t mean that you need to drop any excess body weight, but rather, strive to be a comfortable weight for your own frame.
Don’t go too hard on the alcohol
Sorry to break it to you: boozing on the regular is doing no favors for your body or your mindset.
While the occasional glass of red wine doesn’t hurt, the study suggests limiting your booze intake to one 5 ounce glass of wine per day for women and up to two 5 ounce glasses for men.
Avoid smoking entirely
Don’t smoke—just don’t do it.
While it’s never too late to attempt to quit smoking cigarettes, the study specifically noted that anyone who has smoked less than 100 cigarettes in his or her lifestyle will be much better off than those who have smoked regularly.