Live Healthier to Live Longer

Don Beaver, Fitness Director

Last month we discussed avoiding New Year’s resolutions with a healthy approach to the holidays. In the event that you prefer resolutions, this article is dedicated to committing to daily habits that can not only be healthy but will increase your life expectancy!

Clearly, lifestyle choices like diet and exercise will influence more than ever how long you might live to enjoy life. Research by the American Society for Nutrition found that practicing eight healthy habits early in your life will dramatically increase your length of life. Check out this comprehensive list (listed in order with the highest impact on lifespan) from that study:

1. Exercising

2. Not having an addiction to opioids

3. Avoiding smoking

4. Managing your stress levels

5. Adhering to a healthy diet

6. Not binge drinking

7. Prioritizing good sleep

8. Maintaining positive social relationships

More than 700,000 U.S. military veterans from ages 40 to 99 were participants in the study. It revealed that lack of physical activity, opioid use, and smoking had the biggest impacts on lifespan, with a 30% to 45% increased risk of death.

Stress, binge drinking, poor diet, and poor sleep habits were each associated with around a 20% increase in the risk of death. Surprisingly, a lack of positive social relationships was associated with only a 5% increased risk.

Participants also experienced increases when adding healthy habits in their 50s, 60s, and 70s—meaning it’s never too late to adopt a healthy habit.

Exercising: Given our facilities at the Anza primarily deal with the No. 1 healthy choice—exercising—let’s delve into that. Barbara Bergin, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, explains that for older adults, the top priority must be maintaining quality of life outside the gym. To do that, focus on workouts designed to help you build strength, stay mobile, and improve balance. Experts compiled a list of the eight best exercises for older adults. See the list below:

1. Swimming: The world’s “perfect exercise” for cardio and strength benefits with minimal stress on bones and joints.

2. Yoga: Builds strength, core stability, and total-body mobility with low impact.

3. Pilates: Another low-impact, strength program.

4. Bodyweight training: Strength training is more efficient than cardiovascular exercise in fighting age-related abdominal fat, per Harvard research.

5. Resistance band workouts: Challenges your muscles, strengthens your back, and improves posture via equipment-free training—perfect for at-home workouts, too.

6. Walking: Dr. Victoria Shinn, a cardiologist, states that those who walked at least 10,000 steps a day were 46% less likely to die in the following 10 years than those who were sedentary.

7. Cycling: Still another low-impact cardiovascular workout that will increase leg strength.

8. Strength and aerobic classes: This choice is all about matching the degree of class difficulty with your abilities, while also engaging in a highly social activity.

Note: The Anza offers a wide variety of classes for all ages and abilities, including Yoga, Pilates, the use of resistance bands, and much more, while the facility and its equipment provide opportunities for swimming, walking, cycling, and weight training.

So, let’s all commit to healthy habits and increasing our lifespan as we “enjoy the journey”!