It’s a well-known fact that women tend to live longer than men. In fact, girls born in 2012 or later are expected to reach 81.2 years old -- a full five years older than their male counterparts. But why stop there? If you could tack on a few more years wouldn’t you do it?
There may not be a Fountain of Youth that can take you back in time but there are certainly things you can do that may help you stay healthy – and live longer. It’s not easy to condense it all down to a short list, but let’s face it – if we said you had to do 25 things in order to increase longevity, you probably wouldn’t bother.
Don’t worry, it’s never too late to start. Here’s a look at our top four things that women over 40 can do to live longer.
Doctor Says: You Must Have Fun -- This is an easy (and enjoyable) one. You probably already do it – and you can combine it very easily with the other three. Research has shown that people with a strong social network are more apt to stay healthy and reach a ripe old age than those that socialize less. In fact, this is one of the main reasons that women tend to live longer than men. They appreciate their social bonds with both family and friends. Socializing triggers a release of hormones that can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, help depression, and aid sleep. And the support and companionship of friends will certainly make the rest of these suggestions a lot more enjoyable.
Kicking and Screaming is Aerobic Too -- Going to the gym wasn’t an option when our parents were young, but now we know that exercising as little as 30 minutes a day can help improve your heart, muscles, balance and even your mental health. Not enough time? That’s OK – doctors say that three 10-minute bursts of activity are just as good. So grab a friend for a walk or hit the gym. The buddy system can be a powerful motivator.
Fruits and Veggies Are No Longer Optional -- Fruits and vegetables – especially leafy greens – are loaded with vitamins and fiber. “Good” fats like olive oil have been shown to fight heart disease, stroke, depression, cancer, and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. Cut back (at least a little) on sugar and transfats. And share that healthy meal – along with a glass of red wine – with a friend to double the benefits!
Breath In...Breath Out -- Easier said than, done, right? The good news is that estrogen protects women from the effects caused by stress; the bad news is that women are hard-wired to be more negatively affected by emotions. Prolonged stress can lead to strokes, ulcers and hypertension. So to keep that stress under control, exercise, eat healthier, get a good night’s sleep, cut back on caffeine, relax through yoga or mediation, and say “no” to those things you really don’t want to do. And if all else fails just call a friend.