Do These 26 Things for Your Best Chance at a Longer Life

Live Longer

Cheapism / Lisa5201/nicoletaionescu/istockphoto

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Live Longer
Cheapism / Lisa5201/nicoletaionescu/istockphoto

The Secrets of Long Life

We all die eventually — that’s the brutal truth we learn from childhood. But instead of drowning in existential dread, we can focus on staying on this planet as long as possible. And who knows, if you follow these 26 scientifically backed tips, you might hold the key to a very long, healthy life.

Quit smoking, no tobacco day, mother hands gesture reject proposal the cigarette, selective focus
PORNCHAI SODA/istockphoto

1. Quit Smoking

Starting with a "duh" moment, but while obvious, and we've all heard it a gazillion times, it's still true: Smoking kills.

It is a nasty habit that's never too late to kick. We know smoking is an addiction, and quitting is challenging, but when you weigh the downsides, you'll see there's nothing good about it. It makes you tired, increases your risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancers, drains your wallet, and it stinks. We could go on and on, but you get the point: ditch the cigarettes and reach old age. 

Mid aged woman running in city park

2. Move More

Longevity experts and doctors unanimously agree that staying active is the key to vitality and preventing all kinds of diseases, including type 2 diabetes. This doesn't need to be a high-intensity workout — it could be as simple as light cardio, including walking, dancing, and swimming. At least 30 minutes of physical activity daily can make a huge difference.

Healthy and unhealthy habits in the office
Egoitz Bengoetxea Iguaran/istockphoto

3. Stay Away from Processed Foods

We are what we eat, and our diet affects how long we live as well. According to a recent study, ultra-processed food is linked to 32 health problems, which is definitely not a recipe for a longer life.  

Follow this rule of thumb: If the ingredients list includes things you never see in your kitchen, like hydrogenated oil, hydrolyzed protein, or high fructose corn syrup, then you should definitely stay away from it.

Asian Woman Drinking Water from Reusable Water Bottle

4. Drink Plenty of Water

We are made up of about 60% water, and staying well-hydrated drastically increases the chances of longevity. According to a National Institutes of Health study published in eBioMedicine, people who stay hydrated throughout the day tend to be healthier, with lower risks of chronic diseases, and live longer than those who don't. Staying hydrated flushes out toxins, supports your kidneys and liver, and aids in cell repair and regeneration. So, gulp down that water. 

Senior man shopping in a supermarket buying vegetables

5. Eat More Plants

Research on Blue Zones (areas with a high number of centenarians) shows that those who live there primarily eat a 95% plant-based diet. While lean meats are a beneficial source of protein, a number of studies show that avoiding red meat can reduce the risk of death from heart disease, cancer, and various other causes.


6. Wear Sunscreen Daily

Yes, you should wear sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days. Sunscreen is your first line of defense against skin cancer, including deadly melanoma. There is no safe level of unprotected sun exposure, and wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more every single day can protect you from DNA-damaging and deadly skin cancer.

Woman sleeping in bed hugging soft white pillow

7. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep your way to old age. A 2023 study found that people with healthy sleep habits have longer life expectancy than those who slept less. Aim to have at least 7 to 8 hours of good night's sleep to allow your body to repair and regenerate.

Doctor consulting with patient Back problems Physical therapy concept

8. Get Regular Medical Checkups

We tend to go to the doctor only when we feel symptoms and the thing is, preventive care is essential. Regular health checks are your ticket to a longer, healthier life, as catching potential issues early significantly improves treatment outcomes. So don’t skip your annual visit to your GP, even if you feel in top-notch form. Better safe than sorry, right?

Funny Woman Feeling Full after Eating a Large portion of Food

9. Eat Until You Are 80-Percent Full

Another healthy habit practiced by people in the Blue Zones, particularly those in Okinawa, Japan, is following the Japanese diet rule "Hara Hachi bun me," which roughly translates to "eat until you are eight parts full." Essentially, this means stop eating when you feel about 80% full. According to studies, it takes up to 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. So, if you stop eating when you are about 80% full, it means you are already 100% full — you just don't know it yet.

A laughing women is eating Italian food

10. Laugh More

Turns out, laughter truly is the best medicine. In a study of 50,000 people over 15 years, researchers found that those with a sense of humor lived an average of 8 years longer than their stern counterparts. So, wanna hear a joke?

Diverse Active Seniors

11. Find a Purpose

Having something that gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you going is essential for a long, healthy life. Multiple studies suggest that people with a sense of purpose may live longer and healthier lives.

Senior friends walking in public park

12. Stay Socially Active

One is the loneliest number, and it's not great for your health either. Staying socially active boosts your mood, sharpens your mind, and can even add years to your life. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, people with strong social connections may live longer. Go ahead, make plans, join social clubs, and keep those connections strong!

Senior couple at home paying bills

13. Keep Learning New Things

You know that quote, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." Well, the second part might help you live, well, not forever, per se, but long enough. Learning new things keeps you intellectually stimulated and can help you adapt to unexpected changes. There’s a well-studied relationship between lifelong learning and longevity. It improves brain health, boosts happiness, and gives you that sense of purpose we talked about

assorted nuts

14. Eat More Nuts

It may sound nuts, but living a long, healthy life can come from something as simple as introducing more almonds to your diet. According to two Harvard studies, daily nut-eaters are less likely to die of respiratory disease, cancer, and heart disease and are more likely to live longer than those who rarely eat them.


15. Limit Sugar Intake

Disappointing news for those with a sweet tooth: indulging in sweets can send you to an early grave. Research shows that a sugar-rich diet increases the risk of metabolic disorders, including diabetes and obesity, and shortens your life expectancy by several years. 

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugar intake to 10% of daily calories — if you eat 2,000 calories a day, no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars, which is about 12 teaspoons. 

Avoid Familial Stress

16. Manage Stress

While stress is an inevitable accessory of the modern age we live in, and we often wear it like a badge of honor. But managing it is essential. Chronic stress wreaks havoc on your health, causing inflammation, increasing cardiovascular risks, and weakening your immune system. It even shortens your life expectancy. So, find your stress-buster, whether it’s chatting with friends, consulting a professional, exercising, or meditating.

feet in shoes autumn forest hike

17. Connect with Nature

That hike you were planning to cancel in favor of staying on your couch all day streaming Netflix? Don't! Multiple studies show that people who spend at least two hours in nature each week report greater health and overall well-being, which ultimately leads to a longer life.

Re-Gift Treats or Donate to Charity
Calm serene african american woman meditating at outdoor group yoga class.

19. Meditate

Meditation often brings to mind an old Buddhist monk on a mountaintop, and studies show this image isn't far from reality, as this ancient practice has been linked to increased lifespan. Meditation impacts your longevity by supporting the function of your telomeres and vagus nerve. It also reduces oxidative stress, lowers blood pressure, and boosts the immune system.

Senior calling dog to him

20. Get a Dog

Owning a dog might just help you live longer. Studies found that dog owners with heart disease had a 21% lower risk of death over 12 years.  

Playing with dogs boosts oxytocin, the "love hormone," which improves mood and reduces stress. Dog owners also tend to be more active and spend more time outdoors, both of which are great for heart health.

Grandmother and child gardening outdoors
Anna Frank/istockphoto

21. Try Gardening

Those with a green thumb can rejoice, as science has found a tie between gardening and longevity.  Many centenarians living in the "Blue Zones" share this common hobby, and it’s more than just a pastime. Studies show that gardening can lower the risk of dementia, improve cognitive function, and promote social connections. It also provides a sense of purpose and connection to nature, both important for longevity. (Don't forget, there are ways to garden even if you don't have a backyard.)

Maintaining healthy habits together

22. Remember to Floss

No matter how much you hate it, you should not toss the floss, as it turns out it might be your ticket to longevity. Research shows that people who floss daily live one to six years longer than those who rarely floss or don't floss at all. Flossing daily reduces your risk of gum disease and also the risk of heart disease.

Portrait of smiling Caucasian man fastening seat belt and sitting in his car. Window opened, side view.

23. Wear a Seatbelt

According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2022, half of the people who died in crashes were unrestrained. Wearing a seatbelt can reduce the risk of death by 45% for front-seat passengers in cars and 60% for front-seat passengers in light trucks. So buckle up.

Couple enjoy some red wine in ancient Italian castle

24. Drink in Moderation

Studies show that moderate alcohol intake, let's say a glass of wine per day, helps raise levels of HDL cholesterol, known as "good" cholesterol, which is linked with reduced risk for heart disease. Alcohol also may discourage the formation of small blood clots that can lead to heart attacks and stroke.

Cooking beet soup, borscht with organic vegetables

25. Cook at Home

Maybe you should stay in tonight and fire up that stove, as cooking at home might just be the secret to a longer life. A study from Cambridge University found that people who cook up to five times a week have a 47% higher chance of still being around after a decade. 

Woman with stress headache, crisis and mental health problem, sad with depression and anxiety. Mockup house, confused or tired with brain fog, female person with worried face and burnout issues
Dean Mitchell/istockphoto

26. Be Good to Yourself

Life is hard, and you are doing fine. That should be it! Sometimes, we are prone to being overly harsh with ourselves. While constructive self-criticism is a great motivator to change bad habits, being overly negative with yourself is known to increase anxiety and stress levels, which can wreak havoc on your health.