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Longevity To-Dos in Your 20s

Get Started on Living Longer Now


Updated October 11, 2007

Longevity is probably the last thing on your mind. That's too bad, because you can make some easy progress now that will pay off for the rest of your life. Just maintaining a healthy weight alone will keep you feeling and looking great now, and prevent countless chronic illnesses in the future. Look through this list and pick one or two of the To-Dos to accomplish each month. You'll be started on a long and happy life.

1. Drive Defensively

Auto accidents are one of the leading causes of death for people in their 20s. In fact, around 33% of all deaths in your age range are from car accidents. Think of all the driving you do -- commutes, weekend driving, road trips. Be sure that you are wearing a seatbelt each and every time you get in the car; and if your car doesn't have airbags, it is probably time for an upgrade. Lastly, make sure that you are driving as safely as possible. Take the slow lone for a change, avoid darting in and out of traffic, practice safe nighttime driving and make a pledge to yourself never to drive after drinking or using drugs (and never get into a car with a driver who has been drinking or using).

2. Safe Sex

Condoms, condoms, condoms. Use them. A condom is the best form of prevention available to make sure you don't get a sexually transmitted disease like HIV/AIDS. This is serious -- sexually transmitted disease can alter the length and quality of your life. It is not worth the risk. Practice safe sex and you'll be protecting your health. Of course safe sex goes beyond condoms -- you can get infections from oral sex, and having multiple sexual partners really ups your risk. To be safe, women should get a pap smear yearly and sexually active women should consider getting the cervical cancer vaccine.

3. Love Moving Your Body

Your body is made to move. It likes it. Moving makes your heart and muscles happy. You need to work moving and exercise into your life. Find a passion. Dance, sports, yoga, Pilates, weights, biking -- find something that you love to do and make that your #1 hobby. You'll feel better emotionally and physically, live longer and (not to mention) look great.

4. Don't Smoke

14 years. That's how many years of your life you could lose if you started smoking. That doesn't even count years spent in poor health. Smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Don't start. Not even one. Just don't do it.

5. Make Good Friends

It is easy to make friends in your 20s. You have time to go out. You might be in college surrounded by hundreds of other people your age. This changes -- people get busy, they have kids. It becomes harder to make friends. Make finding good friends a priority in your 20s. It turns out that having friends and a good social life can actually improve your health and help you to live longer.

6. Keep Your Mental Health

Depression and mental illness are some of the biggest (and most expensive) medical problems facing young people. While you can't prevent all types of mental illness, developing some skills at relaxing and letting go of things can really help. Try meditation, prayer or other forms of relaxation. If you are having any mental health problems like depression or anxiety, see your doctor. There are many treatment options available.

7. Avoid Violence

Fifteen percent of the deaths in young adults are caused by murder. These murders are usually not random acts, but violence among family members and within neighborhoods. Avoid violent situations, seek help when you need it and learn to control your anger -- these things will help you survive your 20s.

8. Live Your Right Weight

Being overweight is the single greatest risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and a host of other problems. It's simple -- any extra weight means the body has to work that much harder to maintain everything, so your body just wears out faster. Your 20s are a great time to work on getting to the right weight. Try these healthy eating tips and ideas for painless weight loss to get you started. Be determined to leave this decade at a healthy weight -- you'll be so glad you did.

9. Don't Run Out of Money

There is a miracle out there waiting for you -- it is called compounded interest. Basically, the longer you have money saved, the more it grows for you. This is important. If you are going to live long, you may be looking at decades in retirement. The average person today spends 20 to 30 years in retirement. You have to make sure you don't run out of money. Putting a little away each year in your 20s pays off in big, BIG ways 50 years later.

10. Love Your Work

Most people spend at least 40 hours a week at their job. You might as well as doing something you like. Take some time to figure out your career. Pick a job/career path that suits you now and will continue to do so decades from now. Spend some time and give it some thought. What will your options be if you want to "settle down?" Does your career path have a future? Do you like the future it has? Take action in your 20s to get more education, training or whatever you need to pursue your dream job.

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