Easy Ways to Add 20 Years to Your Life

By , By Alyssa Shaffer, of Woman's Day
If you think that how long you’ll live is based on how long your grandparents and parents live, you’re only partly right. While genetics certainly have an impact, you have more control than you might assume. “By the time you turn 55, only about 30% of how quickly you age is based on your genes, as compared to 50% when you’re younger—the rest is due to your lifestyle choices,” says Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic. To figure out about how many years certain habits can add to your life, Dr. Roizen created the RealAge test, which uses data from hundreds of studies by groups including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics. With his help, we’ve gathered the most important habits and estimated how much longer each one may extend your life.

Add 2.2 years: Walk 30 minutes a day
This is crucial to keeping your weight steady and lowering your risk of heart disease and diabetes, but fitting in a solid half-hour can be tricky. Just as good (and easier) is weaving in that 30 minutes throughout your day; wearing a pedometer can help you stay on track. Research from the Stanford University School of Medicine shows that people who wear one take an extra 2,000 steps (about 1 mile) a day. “Having that pedometer makes you honest with yourself, so you really know how much you’re moving,” adds Dr. Roizen.

Add 5.6 years: Get up and move!
Just as important as getting in that 30 minutes of walking is making your overall daily life more active. Getting a full 100 minutes of movement a day is what gives you the biggest health benefits. An easy way to do that: Get up and move any time you’re usually sedentary—during TV commercials, for example. The average commercial break lasts for 2 to 3 minutes—plenty of time for you to work in a few mini moves like squats, jumping jacks or biceps curls (keep a set of free weights under your couch), or even just a few quick laps around the den.
Research shows that people who do the most sitting have an increased risk of heart disease. This is because sitting for long periods of time allows fat to continue circulating in your bloodstream longer, which in turn slows the ability of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) to clear plaque from your arteries.

Add 3 years: Go to bed 15 minutes earlier
This will help you get an extra 7.5 hours of shut-eye over the course of a month. “Sleep is profoundly important,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Prevention Research Center at the Yale University School of Medicine. “It’s when every organ and system in your body repairs, restores and resets itself. Not getting enough sleep compromises how well your entire body functions.” Although everyone’s sleep needs are different, experts say that regularly getting less than 7 hours per night is what starts to have a negative impact.

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Let's see... I'm 72 now and I do all those things. That brings me up to 92. BUT, my Dad is now 94, so can I expect to live 20 years longer than that or.... I am so confused. What will be will be, but I intend to do my best to live a healthy, satisfactory life whatever the end date may be! Thanks for sharing the information. Report
Since Jack LaLanne lived to be 96 and was on the go every day up to the last week, I'll take his advice and "DON'T LOSE THOSE LEGS". Keep moving. Report
I practice all of these most of the time. RealAge & other online longevity tests tell me I can expect to live to be about 97-98! It will be interesting to see--neither my parents nor any of my grandparents lived anywhere close to that long, but I do take care of myself better than any of them did.

Most important: I hope any "extra" years I live are marked by joy, poetry & beauty, & service to others & to God. Report
Good info. I didn't know about the fat just sitting in the blood stream so I'll be making alot more trips to do "something" at night instead of just being in the chair. Report
I do some of those things already, but it's to add quality to my life, rather than years. I have stage IV breast cancer so I doubt that I will still be around in 20 years. As long as I can feel good most days with the time I have left that will be good enough for me. Report
Wow, the thought of letting fat circulate in my bloodstream is a vivid incentive to get up and move! Report
Thanks for the info! More motivation to get up and move! Report
great info! i go to the gym 5-6 times a week, so i feel good about the exercise part. the sleep part is eye opening! Report
AWESOME information I am doing some of these already, thank you so much for sharing. Report
these were some great ideas here! The best part is they are doable! Report
That 15 minutes of extra sleep a night could make such a difference is an eye opener. An interesting and informative article - thank you! Report
I am always interested in such things. At 54 , so far, I have survived cancer twice in my life and one stroke. Bosslady says that I had just better not die before she does(grin). I always listen to the woman when she is right. Report
Im psyched! Excellent information, and something my husband and I have been talking about. Ive begun the healthy diet, excercise, and want to go to a gym to find out how to use weights properly. Thank you so much Spark for bringing us important information Report
Great information! Report
This is doable and so well worth every minute, adding years. Report
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