I am turning 30 in a few weeks. There is no avoiding or delaying it and I’m not going to lie… I’m NOT happy about it. I like being in my twenties, I actually quite like being 29, on the cusp of adulthood – just enough maturity to hold your own in conversations with the older generation, but enough youth to justify jaegarbombs and an overdraft. A happy place in between Radio 1 and Radio 2, with the odd flick over to Radio 4 when I’m feeling intellectual.

I’ve made it my mission for the last few weeks to drink as little alcohol as possible and work out more than ever to ensure that I am physically prepared for the potential (inevitable) psychological and emotional meltdown that is due to ensue any minute now.

Considering how quickly the last decade has gone, and apparently it only goes quicker from here on in, thanks to my Gran, who politely pointed out ‘this is what happens when you get old’… I’ve decided that some lifestyle choices need to be put in place, permanently (not just when I’m feeling guilty after a bout of alcohol poisoning) to ensure that for the next thirty, forty, fifty years – I’m in tip top condition! Luckily, there are positive statistics to support the fact that we are all living longer.

Japan has the world’s highest life expectancy (82.6 years) followed by Hong Kong (82.2 years) and Iceland (81.8 years). The world average is 67.2 years and the UK average is 79.4 years. One thing that you can’t deny is that lifestyle has a major impact on lifespan (put the doughnut down) and I’m thinking that we should be learning from the nations that are outliving the rest of us.

Developed nations are seeing people live for up to ten years longer than their parents. “We’re living longer because people are reaching old age in better health,” said demographer James Vaupel, author and expert at Duke University’s Center on the Demography of Aging. So it’s really quite simple, if you maintain a healthy lifestyle while you are young,  you are more likely to reach old age in better health, increasing your chances of living for longer.

Life expectancy changes as you get older.  For example, the life expectancy of a child increases significantly once they reach their first birthday. As they get older, their chances of living longer increases year on year. For example, the average life expectancy from birth for those in the United States is 77.7 years, but those who live to age 65 will see their life expectancy increase by almost 18 additional years. This takes their life expectancy up to 83 years.  So the key is to reach these milestones in good health to increase your chances of adding on more years.  There are many lifestyle choices and changes that you can make, which will certainly increase your chances of living longer and improve your overall health.

Apparently, according to Vaupel, if life expectancy continues to rise at the same rate as it has over the past two centuries, then it’s likely that half of the children alive today, in the developed world, may make it to 100 years.

Want to make sure you are maximizing your chances of seeing 100 birthday candles?  I do! At 100, a 30 year old will seem like an infant! Here are some adjustments that you can make to your lifestyle, which might just give you a few extra years:

Balanced Diet

About 40 per cent of cancers are diet related, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day can help to reduce your risk of cancer of the lung, digestive tract, bowel, bladder and breast.

Sweet potato

Loaded with vitamins, iron and magnesium, they are packed with health boosting nourishment.  They are also low on the glycaemic index so a great alternative to potatoes, which can leave you bloated and with a sugar low.

Blueberries

One of the highest concentration of anti-oxidants has earned the blueberry ‘superfood’ status. Anti-oxidants are vital in protecting the body from free radicals, the main cause of aging in living cells.

Exercise

Keeping fit is one of the most important ways to stay healthy. It’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

Sex/intimacy

Being sexually active, not only lowers blood pressure and stress levels, but also boots immunity, heart health and self-esteem.

Fun

Gelatology, the study of laughter, (it’s actually a thing!) has brought to light some fascinating facts about laughter.  Not only does having fun improve alertness and creativity, but it’s a natural pain reliever as laughter helps the pituitary gland release its own pain-suppressing opiates

Sleep

Getting enough sleep is vital for overall health.  Not only can it improve athletic performance, attention spans and memory, it has also been proven to reduce inflammation, linked to heart disease and stroke, as well as reduce the likelihood of suffering from depression.

Read

Not only is it great for keeping your brain ticking but reading for pleasure has been shown to help people to relax and improve mood.

Get a pet

Pets can have an extraordinary impact on the lives of their owners. From lowering blood pressure to lessening anxiety, not forgetting the great benefits of regular exercise if you are walking a dog on a daily basis.

Relax

Evidence demonstrates that stress is comparable to other risk factors that we would commonly consider as major, like hypertension, poor diet and lack of exercise. It’s impact on our health is huge so, whether you choose meditation or a hot bath, it’s important to take time out each day to relax and unwind.

Making a few adjustments to your everyday life can make all the difference for and the sooner you start to make these changes, the quicker you’ll begin to feel the benefits. See you in seventy years! 🙂