The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging reports that people are living much longer. The goal of this national research project—involving more than 50,000 Canadian participants—is to identify the key determinants of healthy and active aging that make these extra years worth living.
Researchers globally and in Canada have already pinpointed some critical lifestyle factors that contribute to better health, active aging and longer life:
1. Go for a walk most days. A 2017 study in The Lancet reported that people who were physically active for 30 minutes five days a week—whether walking, doing household chores or gardening—reduced their risk of dying prematurely by 25% and of developing heart disease. Led by a heart specialist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, the study tracked 130,000 participants in 17 countries for seven years.
2. Engage in social activities. Seniors who socialized frequently enjoyed better health and quality of life, according Statistics Canada. A lack of social connection can disrupt sleep, raise blood pressure and increase an older person’s chance of premature death, reported a University of Chicago study.
3. Learn throughout life. Stimulating your brain with new learning is mental exercise that’s just as important as physical exercise. Continuing to learn each day will help keep your mind sharp, bolster memory and concentration, and lower your risk of dementia, according to Dalhousie University.
4. Eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods. As people age they need fewer calories, but as many or even more nutrients in some cases. A healthy diet, along with regular physical activity, can help prevent or slow down the progress of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers according to the University of Regina.
5. Be positive about aging. A Yale University study found older adults who had a positive attitude towards aging lived more than seven years longer than those with negative attitudes.
6. Help others by giving. People who volunteered regularly lived longer, if their goal was to help others rather than just to feel better, according to a Health Psychology study. Volunteering regularly is also associated with lowering blood pressure, reported Carnegie Mellon.
7. Nap for an hour a day. Napping for an hour in the afternoon is linked to improved memory and ability to think clearly, and is better than no naps and shorter or longer naps, according to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Regular sleep patterns for older adults are also associated with longer life, reported a Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience study.