All of us want to be healthy and live longer. If you take care of yourself, you can improve your overall daily health and possibly even extend your life span. Here are ten healthy habits that may add years to your life:

  1. Get Enough Sleep – Scientific research points to lack of sleep as the catalyst for many other health-related problems. Without an adequate amount of sleep your metabolism slows and you can gain weight. Your immune system is lowered and you are less able to fight off disease and infection. Your ability to focus, concentrate on important tasks such as driving and your memory all suffer without enough sleep. Aim for at least eight hours every night, and add naps when necessary.
  2. Floss Daily – Daily flossing reduces the amount of bacteria in your mouth.  Doctors suspect this bacteria can enter your bloodstream and trigger inflammation in your arteries, a major risk factor for heart disease.  It is also thought to cause artery thickening.  Flossing will preserve your natural teeth and gums as long as possible. A beautiful smile will also help you look younger.
  3. Keep Up with Screening Exams – Preventive exams such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and cholesterol screenings are proven to save lives. They can reveal conditions like cancer and heart disease at early stages where the potential for successful treatment is greater.
  4. Stay Connected – Research increasingly shows that people who stay socially engaged reduce their risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Connect with family and friends on a regular basis. Develop new friendships through common interests. Take advantage of online social networks. Show interest in people around you.
  5. Don’t Worry – Unnecessary harm can be  done by worrying about something that you cannot change. Worrying creates stress, which triggers the body’s natural “fight or flight” response, releasing hormones like cortisol into your system. Learn stress-reduction techniques such as meditation and yoga. If you can’t solve a problem, learn to let it go.
  6. Train Your Brain – For good brain health, you should regularly engage in brain activities that are both new and challenging. It may be formal education, learning a new language, developing a new hobby, playing games like chess, bridge, or even poker, or solving puzzles.
  7. Cover Up – Excessive UV radiation weakens the body’s immune system in addition to causing cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States—an estimated 1 million nonmelanoma cases are diagnosed annually. The majority of skin cancer cases, up to 90%, are sun-related. Use sunscreen whenever you are going to be outside, even if you are just driving in the car.
  8. Get Enough Calcium – Osteoporosis is a disease that becomes more common with older age. It is more prevalent among women, but men get osteoporosis too. Among the important ways to prevent osteoporosis is to be sure you get enough calcium in your diet. Add more nonfat and low-fat dairy products to your diet such as milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt. Add a daily calcium supplement if your doctor suggests it.
  9. No Secondhand Smoke – You may not smoke, but if someone around you does or you are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, it’s nearly as bad as if you smoke yourself. Encourage loved ones and friends to quit; if you must, limit your exposure by limiting the time you spend with them.
  10. Take Enough Time for Yourself – Leisure time is important to recharge your batteries and prevent stress. Put aside quality time with family or for yourself. Get away for a weekend, go on an adventure, see a movie on a weekday afternoon. Relax and have fun!

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Column in the Washington Times Communities by Laurie Edwards-Tate

LifeCycles is intended to provide inspiration and information only. If you are considering any health, dietary, exercise or lifestyle changes based on the information provided here, please seek advice from a qualified professional.
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is President and CEO of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California. In addition to her positions as entrepreneur, health care executive, educator, radio segment contributor and media guest, Edwards-Tate is also a wife, daughter, and dog lover. Read more LifeCycles in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow At Your Home Familycare on Facebook and on Twitter @AYHFamilycare.
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