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Add Healthy Years to Your Life


Updated July 30, 2009

Life expectancy can be increased through habits and other behaviors. Some add a few years while others may add decades. Here are six well-researched methods for increasing life expectancy. Together they add up to 44 additional years (clearly there is some overlap in them). The point is that these techniques will have you living longer and feeling better. Pick one and start increasing your life expectancy today.

1. Add 11 Years With Exercise, Quitting Smoking and Daily 5

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Three simple behaviors can add 11 years to your life according to a large study. These behaviors include not smoking, exercising frequently and eating more fruits and vegetables. Of course, none of this is news. But what I like is putting a number to the behaviors -- 11 years is a pretty long time. Find out how much exercise you need and learn more about these three behaviors.

2. Add 14 Years Through Habits

Healthy Eating
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What happens is you add a fourth behavior to the 3 above? You can do one more behavior that seems to increase the benefits of the three behaviors above and add 14 years (instead of 11). The best part of this is that the fourth behavior is fun and pleasurable. Follow the link to find out what it is.

3. Think Positive for 7.5 More Years

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My favorite of all the life expectancy studies is one that found that people who have a positive view about aging tend to live longer, a lot longer. The study found that people with this positive view live 7.5 years longer than the people with a negative view. By looking forward to aging, your body seems to get the message that you want to stay around longer. Of course, the study isn't free from problems either.

4. Get Religion for 2 to 3 More Years

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People who go to a religious service regularly tend to live 2 to 3 years longer than people who do not go to services regularly. It doesn't seem to matter what religion the services are about, just that the person goes frequently. Some think that the reason for this is that people who are part of a community tend to have more emotional support while others think there may be something unique about religion that helps with health. Click through to read the details and make your own conclusions.

5. Daily Exercise is Worth 9 Years

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Here's where some overlap must be happening. Other studies have found that exercise can make your cells the equivalent of 9 years younger. Some things to watch with all these studies is the age groups of the people in the studies, what other factors are considered and the amount of exercise that people do. For example, in some studies, researchers compare extreme exercisers to extreme non-exercisers while in others, the comparison may be to the average exerciser. This makes a big different. The study that shows 9 years of benefit went all the way down to the cellular level. I like that.

6. Floss for 1.5 Years

Floss for a Longer Life
Photo: Paul Burns / Getty Images
The simplest behavior that can add years to your life is flossing. Knowing that flossing adds 1.5 years is just enough motivation to get me flossing every day (I'll admit it: I was an occasional flosser before I learned this). By flossing, you keep out bacteria that cause inflammation that can lead to heart problems. So pick up this floss at least once a day.

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