With the advance of modern medicine, people are living longer today than at any time in history. Life expectancy has increased significantly over the decades, cures have been found for diseases which were previously untreatable, and infant mortality rates have dropped dramatically.
We have a lot to celebrate – there’s no arguing with that. But whilst we’re certainly living longer lives, are we also living healthier lives?
It seems that the answer to this is no. Gains in longevity have far outweighed gains in the overall health of the population. It’d be easy to think this doesn’t matter. After all, we’re living longer, so who cares if we’re healthier?
Well, some would argue that it’s not just about the length of your life, it’s about the quality of your life. A third of us will now fail to reach the age of 65 in good health. Arthritis, obesity, respiratory problems are just a few of the problems that continue to plague us in our retirement years and reduce the quality of our life.
To help reach old age in the healthiest state possible, and give yourself the best chance of feeling fit and healthy later in life, there are a few changes you can make to your lifestyle.
With that in mind, let’s look at 5 actionable steps you can take today to lead a healthier life:
1. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Humans evolved to be hunters and gatherers. That means we’re supposed to eat both meat and fruits and vegetables. Whilst this shows that a little bit of meat is good, people often forget that, historically, early humans wouldn’t have been able to access meat on the scale we can today. They primarily relied on fruits and vegetables for sustenance.
If you want to live a healthier, more natural life, you should aim to replicate this and eat a lot more fruit and vegetables than you probably are now. Fruits and vegetables deliver a lot of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to keep our immune system working optimally. Aim to eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables per day, with as much variety as possible, and you’ll probably see a difference in your overall health.
2. Ditch the Car for Shorter Journeys
Most of us work five days a week, and many of us also have to commute to our workplace. Typically, commuters make the journey by car, bus, or train, but these probably aren’t the healthiest option.
If your work is half an hour or less away by foot, why not walk or ride a bicycle to work instead? This will help you to get more exercise in per day, which will, in turn, help to keep your cardiovascular system in good shape.
If you’re overweight, it can also help you to lose weight, which will increase your chances of living a long and healthy life.
3. Get 8 Hours of Sleep Per Night
Sleep is important. That’s why almost all mammals need to sleep in one way or another. Our brain needs ‘downtime’ in much the same way that your computer should be turned off when you’re not using it to keep it in working optimally.
Whilst we don’t fully understand why we need sleep, researchers at least know that it’s important. It allows us to replenish and sort through our experiences and memories. A lack of sleep can cause mental health issues, so make sure you’re getting enough shuteye, which means getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
4. Quit smoking
It probably doesn’t need to be said – most people know by now – that smoking is bad for you. It can cause respiratory and heart problems and even increases the risk of lung cancer.
If you’re struggling to stop smoking cigarettes on your own, there’s no shame in asking for help. Consult your doctor and they may recommend some ways to help you stop. You could also try using hypnosis to stop smoking, in which a therapist will help you to conquer your addiction.
5. Think positively
It might seem like a small change, but a positive attitude can help to promote a healthy mind and body. Try to focus on the good things rather than the bad. This can be difficult for some people, but it’s worth making the effort for the benefits it can bring.