There are no hidden recipes for a healthier life. All the pointers below are rooted in extensive research and universally acknowledged truths. That's not to suggest that these guidelines are easy to adhere to, but the more you can incorporate into your life, the healthier you will become.
Exercise might just be the most critical adjustment we can make to influence the duration and quality of our lives. Our bodies were designed for movement, and scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the benefits of exercise, even if it's only three hours per week. The encouraging part is that it's never too late to begin. If you have three hours to spare, aim to combine cardiovascular workouts with some form of resistance training.
As per the Mayo Clinic, strength training can not only contribute to longevity but can also promote strong bones, manage weight, improve quality of life, control chronic conditions, and enhance cognitive abilities. Cardiovascular exercise, on the other hand, pushes your heart and lungs to work more strenuously, circulating more blood and oxygen throughout your body, which strengthens you. There is a robust correlation between good cardio health (as measured by VO2max) and a long life. So don't hesitate to start. You won't regret it.
The key nutrition advice we offer is quite straightforward: Don't be overweight. If you are, we understand that it might not be the easiest aspect of your life to change, but with a balanced diet and a regular exercise regimen, you're already halfway there. So what constitutes a balanced diet? It comprises a variety of fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains:
Consume at least five portions of various fruits and vegetables each day.
Incorporate beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat, and other proteins into your diet.
Opt for unsaturated oils, olive oil being the most preferable.
Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids (at least six to eight glasses a day).
According to the Swedish National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket), 87% of men fail to eat a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables. If you're amongst this group, a multivitamin may assist you in acquiring the necessary nutrients to maximise your health.
Sleep plays a crucial part in sustaining good health and overall well-being throughout your lifespan. The way you feel when you're awake is partly influenced by what transpires during your sleep. As you slumber, your body is industriously supporting healthy brain activity and maintaining your physical health.
The general consensus recommends around seven to nine hours of sleep per night, with the case for a minimum of seven hours strengthening year by year.
A lack of adequate sleep often leads to difficulties with cognition, concentration, memory, reaction times, and mood, all of which hinder our ability to carry out daily tasks and heighten the risk of errors and accidents. Consistently insufficient or poor-quality sleep contributes to long-term health complications such as:
Type 2 diabetes
Lower testosterone levels
Deteriorating mental health
Stress is a natural physical and mental response to life's experiences. Everyone experiences stress occasionally. Stress can be triggered by anything from everyday responsibilities such as work and family, to major life events like a new medical diagnosis, conflict, or the death of a loved one. For immediate, short-term situations, stress can actually be beneficial to your health, aiding you in handling potentially serious circumstances. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and prepare your muscles to respond.
However, if your stress response doesn't cease, and these stress levels remain elevated far beyond what's necessary for survival, it can negatively affect your health. Chronic stress can cause a range of symptoms and impact your overall well-being:
Under stress, your heart beats faster. Stress hormones cause your blood vessels to constrict, diverting more oxygen to your muscles to boost your strength. However, this process also increases your blood pressure. Consequently, frequent or chronic stress will make your heart work excessively for extended periods. When your blood pressure rises, so do your risks for having a stroke or heart attack.
Type 2 Diabetes:
Stress prompts your liver to produce extra blood sugar (glucose) to provide you with an energy surge. If you're under chronic stress, your body may struggle to cope with this extra glucose. Long-term stress may enhance your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Persistent stress can lead to a decrease in a man's testosterone levels. This can disrupt sperm production and cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Chronic stress may also elevate the risk of infection for male reproductive organs like the prostate and testes. People under chronic stress are more susceptible to viral illnesses such as the flu and common cold, along with other infections.
Social connections provide not only pleasure but also significantly influence our long-term health, with impacts as profound as sufficient sleep, a balanced diet, and refraining from smoking. Countless studies have shown that individuals with social support from family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health issues, and enjoy longer lives.
In contrast, a relative lack of social ties is linked with depression and cognitive decline in later life, as well as increased mortality. One study, which analysed data from over 309,000 individuals, discovered that the absence of strong relationships boosted the risk of premature death from all causes by 50%. This effect on mortality risk is roughly equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and exceeds the risks posed by obesity and physical inactivity.