For years, Americans have had a lower average life expectancy than countries like Japan, Greece, and New Zealand. A new study published in The Lancet predicts American life expectancy will increase just two to three years by the year 2030. On the other hand, the average life expectancy in South Korea is expected to increase by seven to eight years in that same time period.
So, where are we falling short?
Looking at how to change your lifestyle in an effort to live longer is the focal point of Z Living’s show Change The Day You Die. Each episode, one person gets a chance to reset their life with healthy habits to help ensure a longer life. Check out more about the show here, and find out where to watch.
In that vein, and that of our country’s less-than-ideal mortality rates, we looked at a few different methods Americans can adopt to live longer, healthier lives:
1. Practice Japan's Method Of Hara Hachi Bu.
The Japanese island of Okinawa is known for having one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, with the greatest proportion of centenarians — people over 100 years old — in the world. This trend is largely credited to a practice called Hara hachi bu, which is a Confucian lesson that instructs people to eat only until they’re 80% full. So follow the Okinawans’ lead and avoid the classic American tradition of cleaning your plate, especially with our country’s infamously large portions.
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2. Bury Your Nose In A Good Book.
While you’d imagine that most methods of increasing life expectancy would be food-or-exercise related, how you use your brain also plays a big role. We covered a study by Yale University that examined the mortality rates and reading habits of nearly 4,000 people over 12 years. Looking at subjects over the age of 50, it found that regular readers survived around two years longer than those who didn’t read. So grab a book or a magazine, stat!
3. Try A Fish- and Plant-Based Diet.
This piece from Health.com looks at nations like Okinawa with higher life expectancy rates, and breaks down some of the dietary commonalities among them. Among its many findings, some of the most tried-and-true are that plant-rich diets and regular consumption of fish leads to longer lives. The article even says that middle-aged people who consume the equivalent of a cup of cooked greens daily are half as likely to die in the in the near future than those who eat no greens. For more inspiration, check out our fish-loving food show, The Posh Pescatarian.
4. Take Up Swimming & Racquet Sports.
Any health expert will tell you that regular physical activity is your best bet for staying healthy and living longer. Getting more specific, multiple studies have placed swimming and racquet sports as the most effective in terms of elongating your life. This piece from Medical News Today looks at a nine-year study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, and found that swimmers and racquet-sport enthusiasts lived longer than the rest, with aerobics lovers and cyclists following closely behind.
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5. Laugh. Giggle. Chuckle. As Much As Possible!
You’ve likely heard that laughter and happiness are good for the heart and can help curb stress. Additionally, we covered a study from University of Maryland, which found that a sense of humor can protect people from heart attacks and heart disease, which is our country’s number one killer. So, seek out the funny stuff in life! Hit a comedy show, YouTube up a silly cat video, or call that old friend who loves to joke around to give yourself the best chance at leading a long and healthy life.