Live With Purpose
According to a 2018 study out of Washington University, people with a greater sense of purpose tend to live longer, more fulfilling lives. Purpose is a variable concept, says Patrick Hill, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences and the lead author of the study. It is the "notion that you have daily activities you find meaningful or engaging and that give you direction for your life, reasons to continue going," he says. This backs up the findings of a 2014 study in the journal Psychological Science that suggested people who already have this motivated state of mind outlived their peers. "People who felt like their lives had meaning had a fifteen percent lower risk of death, compared to those who felt aimless," the researchers said.
As we sleep, our bodies cool slightly, causing reparative growth hormones to be released. Sleeping in pajamas, clothes or even just underwear can add unnecessary warmth. And when you're overheated during sleep, your body doesn't produce adequate melatonin and growth hormones, both of which are important for repair and anti-aging, according to the doctors at the National Sleep Foundation. Plus, being cooler reduces the body's level of cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to overeating, diabetes and illness-causing inflammation.
Adopt a Pet
We've said it before: You want to be a better man? Get a dog. Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than non-pet owners. Just the act of petting a dog lowers your heart rate. And a study from Australia's Baker Medical Research Institute reports that out of nearly 6,000 subjects, pet ownership was linked with lower blood pressure and lower triglyceride levels. Men with dogs have been found to sleep better at night and are sick less often. Plus, you certainly have more reasons to get outside and be active.
Binge Watch Less
Watching too much television not only leads to less daily activity, but it can actually contribute to an earlier death. A large-scale analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association linked prolonged television viewing (defined by researchers as two or more hours) with an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and "all-cause mortality." The researchers guess that the danger emerges because watching television is one of the most sedentary activities a person can do. And it's often accompanied with unhealthy eating habits. Another interesting finding from the study: Once you watch over three hours, the risk of death seems to increase with how many extra hours you log. So maybe cut back to just one or two episodes a day—or watch while peddling a stationary bike or jogging on the treadmill.
Eat More Salmon
Doctors often tell us to eat less red meat and more fish. And if you're going to listen to them, make salmon your fish of choice. An ideal source of lean protein, salmon provides five to 20 times more omega-3 fatty acids than tuna, tilapia, grouper, whitefish and many types of trout. Reams of research proves that omega-3s protect your heart, brain and eyes; tame disease-causing inflammation; and slow down aging at the cellular level. Although wild-caught salmon is usually more sustainable than farmed, any type of salmon will offer ample omega-3s, and just one serving per week is enough to net you the myriad health benefits. Plus, salmon generally carries less toxic mercury than many other fish types.
Don't Forget About Fiber
According to the FDA, most Americans are not getting their recommended daily dose of fiber (between 25 and 42 grams). Which is a problem because a landmark study of more than 500,000 adults found that dietary fiber intake lowered the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases by 24 to 56 percent in men. What's more, for every 10 grams of fiber that you consume (slightly less than a cup of beans), you reduce your risk for colorectal cancer by 10 percent, according to a study published in the Annals of Oncology.
Spice It Up
If you're the type who loves spicy food, you're in luck. According to the findings from a new study that built on prior research on this topic, risk of such vascular afflictions as heart disease and stroke can be significantly reduced from eating red chili peppers. The study, published in the journal PLOS One, examined 16,179 adults over two decades. They found that those who ate spicy foods reduced their mortality by 12 percent. Other spices, ginger and turmeric especially, offer other benefits, thanks to their inflammation-fighting polyphenolic compounds.
Take Regular Naps
A regular short nap dramatically cuts the risk of dying from coronary heart disease, especially for working men. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Athens Medical School in Greece, tracked the sleep patterns of nearly 24,000 people over six years. What they discovered was that occasional nappers had a 12 percent lower coronary mortality, while men who napped at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes had a 37 percent lower mortality.
Leave a Little on the Plate
Overeating will lead to a slew of health problems, and one of the most extreme is premature death. Author Dan Buettner, who studies longevity around the world, found that the oldest Japanese people routinely stop eating when they are feeling only about 80% full. Similarly, Washington University's School of Medicine confirmed that eating less helps you age slower—their research showed that limiting calories lowered production of T3, a thyroid hormone that not only slows metabolism, but speeds up the aging process.
According to the researchers at Johns Hopkins University, who studied more than 6,200 men and women over an eight year period, staying active reduced the chance of premature death by an astounding 80 percent. What's more, you don't need a lot. Aim for about 30 minutes of activity a day most days of the week. And they suggest breaking it into three 10-minute bouts of activity per day—a 10-minute walk in the morning, another at lunch and a simple stroll after dinner.