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When we are young, we want to be older. As we age, we wish for our youth. And once we begin to see how age can affect our ability to do the things we enjoy, we yearn for ways to stop the aging of our bodies. If you could add ten years to your life, would you take the steps necessary to make that possible? Do you believe in healthy aging?

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently completed a 34-year study that looked at healthy aging and ways to increase and enhance life. The results of the study, while pretty straightforward, proved that making small lifestyle changes can reap significant gains in overall health and longevity. Men added an average of 12 years while women added 14. A just-published extension of this study looked at middle-aged Americans found that these same five things can increase the years you live without type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Five Things that Can Help You Live Longer

  1. Eat a healthy diet – Food should be thought of as fuel for the body. It should nourish your body and your soul. The right food can boost your mood, improve energy, and can help you sleep better. People process foods differently, and because of this, it is essential to pay attention to the way certain foods make you feel. Check out Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate, which provides excellent guidelines for creating balanced meals.  
  2. Exercise every day – We believe this to our core. It is why many of us became physical therapists. We believe in the significance of continually moving our bodies. Based on the study’s results, people should exercise a minimum of 30-minutes every day. 
  3. Keep a healthy weight – Ahealthy weight” may seem a bit ambiguous, as the definition varies by individual. The study, however, is referring to the ratio of height to weight and recommends people stay between 18.5 and 24.9. We recognize that basing health on a certain BMI does not provide a full picture. For example, people who have a high percentage of muscle and not much fat will have a higher BMI. Conversely, people who have low levels of muscle and bone may appear to be healthy based on BMI but may have a high amount of body fat versus their lean body mass. 
  4. Moderate alcohol consumption – Everything in moderation is essential for health and well being. For people who enjoy drinking alcohol, long-term health is dependent on limiting how much you consume. Harvard’s study recommends one serving per day for women and two servings for men. According to the study, a serving equates to 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. Research, however, shows that no amount of alcohol is healthy, so if you don’t drink, keep it up and if you do, cut back as listed here or quit. 
  5. Don’t smoke – No amount of smoking, according to the study, equates to health. Healthy means having never smoked. If you do smoke, however, it is never too late to quit. 

You have only one life to live. Please make the most of it by incorporating these five things into your every day for healthy aging. If pain or an injury is preventing you from being active, see a doctor for an assessment or schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist in one of our locations of Bend, Eagle Crest, Redmond, and Sisters.