17. Become the mayor of your block, your condo association or your apartment building.
Men and women in the Longevity Project who liked to lend a helping hand—the ones who cared for their neighbors, the ones whom others turned to for advice—tended to live longer than those in the study who were not involved in such projects.
You knew this was coming. But did you know that just 15 minutes of exercise a day can buy you an extra three years of life? And those who go the extra mile and put in 30 minutes daily (versus zero) tend to be rewarded with an extra four years of life. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can offset age-related brain shrinkage and improve memory as well as decrease your risk of cancer (by 10 percent) and heart disease (20 percent).
19. When choosing veggies, think "Christmas."
You know about the nutritional benefits of kale, chard and other leafy greens. But also add scarlet cruciferous veggies like red cabbage, which are known to help protect against cancer, while beet juice contains nitrates that relax blood vessels.
20. Simmer some sauce.
Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, and a study published in the journal Neurology suggests that high blood levels of this phytochemical may offer protection against strokes. Finnish researchers followed more than 1,000 men ages 46 to 55 and found that those with the highest levels of lycopene were 55 percent less likely to have a stroke than those with the lowest levels.
21. Eat the right sweet treats.
Tufts University researchers found that those on low-sugar diets had lower levels of depression and anxiety than those who consumed all types of carbs (the perkier people also limited their total carb intake to 40 percent of total calories). When craving a cookie, reach for chocolate: In one large German study, eating a square of dark chocolate a day lowered women's blood pressure and reduced their risk of heart attack and stroke by 39 percent.
22. Occasionally indulge your inner Eeyore.
Research suggests that an overabundance of it-won't-happen-to-me optimism could be as detrimental to longevity as high cholesterol and hypertension. A little worry can be helpful if you channel it into productive action, like coming up with an escape plan in case of a house fire, or preparing a living will.
23. Make peace with getting older when you're still young(-ish).
Researchers found that people in their 30s and 40s who looked on the bright side of aging (it brings wisdom, retirement, and more time with family) were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease later in life (and had lower mortality rates) than those who faced each birthday with dread.
24. Set your alarm...to go to sleep.
Multiple studies show that 7 hours is the optimal amount, and those who report sleeping less than 6.5 hours a night just don't live as long. Regularly hitting the sleep sweet spot also helps keep your brain sharp: 7 hours is linked to a lower risk of dementia later in life, and when sleep decreases to 6 or less hours night after night, the brain effectively ages four to seven years.
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