We all know and love the adage, “Black don’t crack.” But while this saying may be true for some, it doesn’t negate our responsibility to live a healthy lifestyle.
According to a recent study, instilling eight simple lifestyle changes can add up to 24 years to your life expectancy. Whether you’re adopting these practices at age 60 or 40, the study claims to see “an 87% relative reduction in all-cause mortality for those who adopted all eight lifestyle factors compared to those who adopted none,” as reported by CNN.
“The earlier, the better, but even if you only make a small change in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, it still is beneficial,” said Xuan-Mai Nguyen, the study’s lead author and a health science specialist for the Million Veteran Program at the VA Boston Healthcare System. “This is not out of reach — this is actually something attainable for the general population.”
Considering a diverse range of factors like race, gender, body mass, ethnicity, socio-economic status, health history and more, the study found that just one of the suggested lifestyle changes can add 4 1/2 years to a man’s life and 3 1/2 to a woman’s life. Though the study, conducted on a diverse group of veterans, does not guarantee a one-to-one application of results, here are eight practices to consider adding to your daily routine:
Whether you’re engaging in intense or moderate workouts, this study, like many others, found exercise can positively impact your health. As long as you’re active and not a couch potato, Nguyen says the activity can contribute to longer lifespans.
Say no to drugs — or at least opioids
As the United States continues to battle an ongoing opioid crisis, the study noted the impact opioid addiction can have on one’s life expectancy. According to Nguyen’s analysis, not becoming addicted to opioids can reduce the risk of early death by 38%.
If you’ve never picked up a cigarette or hookah stick, don’t start now. The study found never using tobacco can lower mortality risk by 29%. For smokers or former smokers, this data does not apply, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that quitting smoking can improve a person’s health and “add as much as ten years to life expectancy.”
Master the art of stress management
Life can be demanding, and unfortunately, stress is often unavoidable. However, stress can have a detrimental impact on overall health and, accordingly, life expectancy. Whether through therapy, meditation, or exercise, finding an outlet to release some of life’s daily stressors can help you manage stress, reducing the likelihood of death by 22%, according to the report.
Incorporate plant-based options into your diet
Meat is a staple in Black culinary culture, but studies have found there are multiple benefits to reducing your meat intake. Similarly, Nguyen’s study found that following a healthy plant-based diet can increase your life expectancy by 21%. And the best part is, you don’t have to go completely vegetarian or vegan.
Balance your drinking
Guess what? Nowadays, college students aren’t the only ones binge drinking. With more than 10% of adults doing so, excessive drinking is more common than most people think. According to the study, having more than four alcoholic drinks a day can have detrimental effects on your health. Drinking in moderation can reduce early death risks by 19%.
Catch some Z’s
Sometimes all you need is a good night’s rest. The study found that getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep can reduce the risks of early death by 18%.
Being surrounded by a positive social village makes life more enjoyable and longer. The study found that having strong social bonds can enhance life expectancy by 5%.
“Five percent may seem small, but that’s still a decrease in terms of all-cause mortality,” said Nguyen, per CNN. “Every little bit helps, whether you pick physical activity or make sure you’re surrounded by positive social support.”
ThePowerBloc is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. ThePowerBloc’s Black Podcast Network is free too. Download theGrio mobile apps today! Listen to ‘Writing Black‘ with Maiysha Kai.