Most of us don’t want to just live long. We want to live long WELL. We want to follow the dark line on the graph — healthy, agile and vibrant until the last days of our life. Very few of us want to follow the lighter-colored line which charts a slow, relentless decline in physical and mental abilities over time.
So what are the secrets to a long and healthy life? Based on lots and lots of research, it turns out there are 4 pillars of healthy longevity:
- Daily moderate exercise. You have to move your body every day. You don’t have to be a marathon runner or triathlete. In fact, there is a diminishing ROI (return on investment) for more and more exercise when it comes to longevity itself. But you still have to get out there and do SOMETHING. It could be gardening, or yoga or a physically demanding job. Ideally, you should move your body somewhat vigorously for at least an hour every single day.
- Social interconnectedness. You have to be part of a group and be an active member of that group. It could be your neighborhood, your faith community, your extended family, your group of friends. It’s important to engage with other people and connect regularly.
- Inner sense of purpose and joy. You have to find and nurture a pursuit that gives you personal satisfaction and contentment. And no one else gets to judge what that is. It could be reading, it could be doing crossword puzzles, it could be your work, it could be meditation or a hobby or learning something new. It’s whatever it is that when you first wake up and look around, you can say — “Great! I get to do that again.”
- Eating for health. Evidence is overwhelming that a whole food plant based diet is the key. There is something special about plants. Per calorie, they can’t be beat for nutrient content, especially when it comes to vitamins and minerals and micronutrients and antioxidants and healthy fats. It’s the fuel our bodies need. The more plant based your diet the better. But remember, it’s not just plants in any form. A potato chip is a plant-based food. It’s about plants in their most whole and unadulterated forms.
These pillars all seem pretty simple on the surface. But they’re not necessarily easy to achieve. It takes work and determination for most of us to hit it out of the park on all 4 pillars all of the time.
Keep these pillars in mind as you go through each and every day. Did you move your body today? Did you connect with someone? Did you do something nice for yourself? Did you eat something health promoting? All these things matter if you want to square that health curve.