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Do These 3 Things Every Day to Boost Longevity, Says Expert

May 22, 2024

Saunas, cold plunges, extreme diets — our social feeds are full of promises of good health and longevity, as long as we devote enough time (and sometimes money) and subject ourselves to difficult practices. But the truth is, there are some simple, fundamental everyday habits that can make a real difference not only to longevity, but to quality of life as well. 

We spoke with Dr. Nathan Price, medical expert from the National Academy of Medicine, co-author of The Age of Scientific Wellness, and chief scientific officer at Thorne, to find out what daily habits we can employ to live longer and healthier, starting today.

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What’s the difference between longevity and healthspan?

“Longevity is the science of living longer,” Dr. Price says. “It’s specifically focused on increasing the number of years one is alive. Healthspan refers to the length of time you live in good health, free from chronic disease.”  

The key is to not only stay alive, but to be healthy enough to enjoy the time we have, he notes.It’s important for individuals to have an understanding of how their diet, lifestyle choices, and genetics impact their healthspan,” Dr. Price says. “Although it’s not possible to determine a set number of ‘healthy’ years for anyone, there are common issues that impact us as we age, such as heart disease, metabolic diseases, cancers, neurodegeneration, and muscle wasting.”

To enhance healthspan, we need to focus on a few key elements, he adds:

  • Cardiovascular health (especially exercise) 
  • Metabolic health
  • Avoiding toxins in the environment 
  • Protecting brain health
  • Maintaining muscle mass during aging

Related: The Best Healthy Habits for Your Brain, Say Neuroscientists

You asked: How can I increase my healthspan?

Although genetics play a role, we have some control over how healthy we remain over time. Here are three daily habits proven to help increase healthspan: 

  • Exercise. “Regular exercise is an excellent way to improve your healthspan,” Dr. Price says. “A study from the American Medical Association found that vigorous exercise leads to a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Exercise also helps maintain a healthy weight, a critical component of healthy aging, especially when our metabolism begins to slow in middle-aged adulthood.” The study found that participants getting 300 to 599 minutes of exercise a week (5 to 10 hours) had up to a 38% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. A combination of moderate activity (such as walking and strength training) and vigorous activity (like running or swimming) was most effective. 
  • Nutrition. Supporting muscles, bones, and joints through good nutrition is key, Dr. Price says. “Muscle mass naturally declines with age, so maintaining a healthy protein intake and engaging in regular strength training will help maintain muscle mass,” he says. He recommends including nutrients such as creatine and vitamin D to enhance the benefits.
  • Sleep. Getting consistent, quality sleep increases life expectancy, Dr. Price notes. “Getting adequate sleep has many health benefits, including supporting your immune system, maintaining a healthy weight, and decreasing your risk of health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes — all of which impact your healthspan,” he says.

Related: 7 Blue Zone Foods That Help Increase Longevity

Practical tips to boost healthspan and longevity

So what does Dr. Price do every day to improve his own healthspan?

I try to walk anywhere I go,” he says. “If where I’m going is less than an hour’s walk away, then I’ll almost always walk. Walk-and-talk calls are common as well.”

He also incorporates exercise throughout the day, grabbing quick opportunities where he can. “I keep exercise bands in my office, and I find incorporating ‘micro-workouts’ throughout the day really helps with maintaining my energy and wellbeing over time,” Dr. Price says.

Managing stress also can make a difference in healthspan. Sleep and physical activity can be helpful, as can having a gratitude practice, meditating, and deep breathing.

Read next: 6 Healthy Habits Straight from the Blue Zones


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