If I told you that adopting just eight habits would enable you to live a much longer life, would you do it?
Don’t worry: None of these habits involve giving up Netflix. But you may have to cut back on your TV-watching to follow a couple of these habits.
The eight habits come from a research study that Xuan-Mai T. Nguyen, a health science specialist at the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs, presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Boston. Researchers studied data from more than 700,000 military veterans to determine common factors that affected longevity.
According to their results, men who have all eight habits at age 40 can expect to live an average of 24 years longer than men with none of these habits. (Twenty-four years is a long time. You’d be able to witness 48 more Trump indictments.)
Women with all eight habits in middle age can expect to live 21 years longer than women with none of these habits. (Sorry, ladies, six fewer indictments.)
“We were really surprised by just how much could be gained with the adoption of one, two, three, or all eight lifestyle factors,” said Nguyen, who is also a medical student.
If you are eager to know how you can live longer, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Here are the eight habits that you need to adopt right away:
1. Don’t join the military. Join the monastery.
2. Wear a seat belt in a car, a helmet on a bike.
3. Look both ways before crossing Vladimir Putin.
4. Protect yourself from diseases: get vaccinated.
5. Stay away from wild animals. Especially the ones who growl at you and own a set of guns.
6. Don’t jump in bed with strangers. One at a time is safer.
7. Don’t go on risky expeditions to the ocean’s bottom – or even a stranger’s.
8. Pay attention to street signs. Especially the ones that say, “Dead End.”
You probably guessed that those aren’t the eight habits that Nguyen presented in Boston, although they’ll certainly help keep you alive.
The actual eight habits that Nguyen presented are mostly about healthy lifestyle choices:
1. Be physically active. This means moving around, whether it be walking, running, cycling or doing yoga. Driving your car does not qualify as being physically active, unless you’re driving a Flintstones model.
2. Be free from opioid addiction. If you give up a drug, you may endure severe withdrawal, but if you stay on it, your bank account will endure even more withdrawal.
3. Do not smoke. Your lungs will thank you. And you won’t be out of breath every time you run a lap around your coffee table.
4. Manage your stress. Try to avoid situations that add stress to your life. If politics stresses you, turn off the news. If driving stresses you, take the bus or train. If meeting friends stresses you, meet your enemies instead.
5. Have a good diet. This includes eating more fruits and vegetables, and limiting your intake of salt, sugar and Big Macs. If you hear a scream whenever you step on the scale, you may need a good diet.
6. Don’t be a regular binge drinker. Try to be irregular about your binge drinking. If you binge drink on the first Saturday of August 2023, don’t do it again until the last Saturday of August, 2043. Save your bingeing for Netflix.
7. Have good sleep hygiene. Wash your pajamas regularly. Actually, “sleep hygiene” refers to all the good habits that promote sleep, such as keeping consistent bedtimes, turning off electronic devices, and saying “Not tonight, Honey” to Stephen Colbert.
8. Have positive social relationships. This means having a strong support network of family and friends, and avoiding negative people – the ones who laugh uproariously when you say that you’re adopting eight new habits.
The earlier you adopt these habits, the more you can expand your lifespan. But even old people can live longer by adopting healthier habits. “It is never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle,” Nguyen said.
Yes, it’s never too late. Even if you are on your deathbed, you’d be wise to embrace your family and friends, not the bottle of whiskey.