21.43 Minutes a Day and 8 Other Ways to Lengthen Your Life

When you make a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion, you may be think­ing of ways you can improve your health over the year. When you decide to try a new kind of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty, you might focus on how to get bet­ter over a cou­ple of weeks or months. 

But when you are think­ing about what healthy habits to add to your rou­tine, you may not think about how they can help you live longer — and you may be sur­prised at how easy some of these habits are. 

Here are 8 healthy choic­es that can add years to your life. 

1. Get more move­ment in your day.

Phys­i­cal activ­i­ty is a key part of stay­ing healthy — and it can also help you live longer. In fact, stud­ies have found that just 21.43 min­utes of move­ment each day can low­er your chances of dying from all caus­es by 33%. 

If 22 min­utes sounds like a lot, remem­ber there are many dif­fer­ent ways to move each day that don’t involve exer­cise.” Tak­ing the stairs, get­ting more steps in your day by clean­ing your house, and play­ing with your kids or pets are all ways to get moving.

2. See your pri­ma­ry care physi­cian every year.

Reg­u­lar­ly see­ing your pri­ma­ry care physi­cian (PCP) can play a sig­nif­i­cant role in extend­ing your lifes­pan. Research has shown that peo­ple who pri­or­i­tize annu­al vis­its with their PCP reduce their risk of pre­ma­ture death by 19% com­pared to those who only rely on spe­cial­ist care.

Your PCP is a great resource for pre­ven­ta­tive care, health screen­ings, and ear­ly detec­tion of poten­tial health issues. By build­ing a long-term rela­tion­ship with your PCP, they can mon­i­tor your over­all health and pro­vide per­son­al­ized guid­ance on healthy lifestyle choices.

Make your annu­al well­ness vis­it a pri­or­i­ty by find­ing a Pri­ma­ry Care Provider or mak­ing an appoint­ment with yours today.

3. Quit smoking. 

Quit­ting smok­ing is a choice that can improve your health as well as length­en your life. Smok­ing is asso­ci­at­ed with an increased risk of heart dis­ease, lung can­cer, COPD, and stroke — all of which can have an impact on the length or qual­i­ty of your life. 

When you quit smok­ing, there is an imme­di­ate ben­e­fit by not putting harm­ful chem­i­cals and tox­ins from cig­a­rettes into your body. Long-term stud­ies have shown that smok­ers who quit can add up to 10 years onto their life.

4. Eat less red meat.

It’s okay to enjoy a nice steak din­ner every now and then, but eat­ing less red meat may help you live longer. Reduc­ing how much red meat you eat (espe­cial­ly processed vari­eties) has been linked to low­er mor­tal­i­ty rates. Oth­er options — like seafood, poul­try, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, and soy prod­ucts — can be a great source of pro­tein instead.

It’s also a good idea to add more fruits and veg­eta­bles while you’re at it. Just 2 serv­ings of fruit and 3 serv­ings of veg­gies every day can low­er your risk of dying from a chron­ic disease.

5. Wear your seatbelt.

Wear­ing a seat­belt when in a car is a sim­ple yet impor­tant habit that can increase your chances of liv­ing a longer life. In the state of Illi­nois, it is not just a good prac­tice but also a legal requirement.

Your seat­belt can pre­vent a seri­ous injury or death if you get in a car acci­dent. In 2017, 14,955 lives were saved because some­one was wear­ing their seat­belt — and it’s esti­mat­ed that seat­belt usage could have saved more than 2,500 more if peo­ple had buck­led up. 

6. Get more sleep.

One bad night’s sleep can leave you tired and grouchy. But a life­time of bad sleep can have seri­ous health impacts. Stud­ies have shown that peo­ple who con­sis­tent­ly sleep the rec­om­mend­ed amount — typ­i­cal­ly between 7 to 8 hours per night — tend to live longer. 

But it’s not just about get­ting enough sleep, it’s also about get­ting good sleep. Qual­i­ty sleep includes the num­ber of hours each night, but it also means falling asleep quick­ly, stay­ing asleep through­out the night, and wak­ing up feel­ing rest­ed (with­out the use of sleep med­ica­tions). All of these togeth­er can lit­er­al­ly add years to your life.

7. Put home safe­ty first.

Home safe­ty can be a big com­po­nent of liv­ing a longer life, espe­cial­ly as you get old­er. Acci­den­tal falls are the lead­ing cause of injury-relat­ed deaths among old­er adults, mak­ing it cru­cial to cre­ate a safe liv­ing environment. 

Sim­ple changes like installing grab bars and handrails, get­ting rid of trip­ping haz­ards, and mak­ing sure there is good light­ing, can sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce the risk of a fall. By pri­or­i­tiz­ing home safe­ty, you can low­er the risk of a fall for your­self or a loved one — maybe even sav­ing and extend­ing someone’s life.

8. Stay connected. 

Main­tain­ing rela­tion­ships and avoid­ing iso­la­tion can extend your life. Research has shown that social iso­la­tion and lone­li­ness have a neg­a­tive effect on your health and increase the risk of pre­ma­ture death. Peo­ple who expe­ri­ence iso­la­tion may have as much as 32% high­er risk of ear­ly death com­pared to those who are not social­ly isolated. 

Engag­ing in social activ­i­ties, cre­at­ing mean­ing­ful rela­tion­ships, and stay­ing con­nect­ed with friends, fam­i­ly, and your com­mu­ni­ty can have a pos­i­tive impact as you age. When you have strong rela­tion­ships, you may expe­ri­ence a longer and more ful­fill­ing life.

By build­ing healthy habits, you aren’t just improv­ing your health in the moment, but in the long term too. Small changes can make a big dif­fer­ence — help­ing you live a long, full life.

  • As a family medicine physician, my primary goal is to provide comprehensive, patient-centered care to individuals and families of all ages. I believe in fostering a long-term doctor-patient relationship built on trust, honest and open communication, and mutual respect. I view healthcare holistically, considering not just the physical aspects of your health but also your emotional and social well-being. I strongly believe in the power of preventive medicine and my practice is rooted in evidence-based medicine. I stay current with the latest medical research and guidelines to provide you with the most up-to-date and effective treatments. I understand that healthcare can be daunting at times, and I'm here to provide not only medical expertise but also empathy and support during your health journey. If necessary, I'll work closely with specialists to ensure you receive the best possible care. I'll be your advocate, helping to coordinate your healthcare and ensure seamless transitions between different providers. I'm dedicated to working with you to achieve and maintain your optimal health. Together, we'll create a personalized healthcare plan tailored to your specific needs and goals.