Knowing the simple steps someone needs to take to become (and stay) healthy is one thing. But actually taking those steps – as many people know – is a totally different ballgame. But it’s not impossible; in fact, even the tiniest lifestyle tweaks can make a huge difference. Depending how serious you are about turning your life around, research shows that certain lifestyle changes can boost your lifespan by up to ten years.
Meet Dr. Clyde Yancy
Dr. Yancy is a professor of medicine and chief of cardiology at the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. For years, Yancy has been sharing what he calls Life’s Simple 7. In fact, “[achieving] these seven simple lifestyle factors gives people a 90 percent chance of living to the age of 90 or 100, free or not only heart disease and stroke but from a number of other chronic illnesses including cancer.”
Dr. Yancy: Here are Life’s Simple 7
Daily exercise, however you choose to get it, is beyond important. It’s easy to put it off for one day, then two, then three… but before you know it, inactivity becomes a habit that’s extremely hard to break. Skipping daily exercise has been linked to higher risks of heart disease and stroke, as well as four fewer years to live. Exercising doesn’t have to be over the top or long either. Three Harvard studies comprised of over 125,000 males and females suggested that simply going for walks for thirty minutes, three times every week or a total of nine miles every week – whichever suits you – significantly reduced their risk of early death and chances of stroke, heart attack, or coronary artery disease.
Know and Control Cholesterol Levels
Having high cholesterol can result in hardened, plaque-filled arteries that increase your heart disease and stroke risk. What’s worse is that most people trying to manage their cholesterol are relying on statin drugs. In one five-year study, researchers administered statins to participants without known heart disease to find that the drugs did very little to effectively protect again cardiovascular diseases.[3,4] A better approach before turning to statins is simply eating foods like salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed oil on a regular basis.
Eat (Consistently) Heathy
Sticking to a healthy diet can be challenging, but it will change your life. Eating unprocessed, whole foods affects every part of your body both inside and out. Whether it’s eating foods that can help improve your vision, relieve headaches and migraines or boost metabolism and burn fat, eating right is almost a sure-shot way to live as long as possible. If you don’t know where to start, try the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020.
Know and Control Blood Pressure
Also known as the ‘silent killer,’ high blood pressure has almost no signs or symptoms and currently 1 in 3 Americans has it. However, a study out of McMaster University found that a simple handgrip exercise can lower blood pressure safely and effectively – here’s how. Or, if you’d like, you can lower blood pressure naturally with any of these options.
Achieve a Healthy Weight (and Maintain It)
Almost 70 percent of Americans are considered overweight or obese – that’s alarming for an entire nation. Similar to the first of Dr. Yancy’s Simple 7, obesity can also contribute to shaving 4 years off your life. But there are steps you can take to fight obesity and these people are living proof.
The U.S. has 29 million people (or, just under 10 percent) with diabetes. If it goes untreated for too long, diabetes has a domino effect where the risk of high blood pressure, narrowed arteries, and stroke increases more and more.
An April 2017 study of half a million people confirmed eating a daily diet of fresh fruit could lower their risk of diabetes by 12 percent. So, for anyone not sure where to start, a bowl of fresh fruit seems like a good place. To learn more about how to prevent diabetes, this article is an excellent starting point.
The no-smoking tip is probably the most familiar to everyone. Whether you smoke or not, the choice is ultimately and obviously yours. But cigarettes are responsible for more than 480,000 deaths each year, about 41,000 of which result from second-hand smoke. To put it into perspective, that is 13,000 deaths every single day from something you have control over. So, if you’re looking to quit smoking, seek your friends’, family’s and doctor’s help.
Do you think you could do it?
“By following these steps,” says Dr. Yancey, “we can compress life-threatening disease into the final stages of life and maintain quality of life for the longest possible time.”
Acting now, he predicts, will help reverse the early death trend by 2020.