5 Scientifically-Proven Ways To Increase Your Life Expectancy

5 Scientifically-Proven Ways To Increase Your Life Expectancy

Illustration, IStockPhoto/E


5 Scientifically-Proven Ways To Increase Your Life Expectancy

These simple lifestyle changes could help you feel better now and increase your life expectancy too.

If you’re hoping to blow out 100 candles on a birthday cake someday, genetics can only get you so far. The healthy choices (like drinking more water and walking to work) and not-so-healthy choices (like frequently skipping meals and scrolling your phone late into the night) that you make on a regular basis could be the greatest determinant in whether you get to be a centenarian.

A study presented at the 2023 meeting of the American Society for Nutrition pinpointed several healthy habits that, when adopted even in middle age, could be key to living decades longer.

To make some resolutions that will really count, check out these five healthy habits that could help you live a longer life.

Choose a Nutritious Diet

“Eating well builds a healthy immune system, helps prevent and manage chronic diseases and health conditions— like diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure—and keeps your bones and muscles strong,” says Adrienne Ngai, a registered dietitian in Vancouver. All of which will help to keep you healthy now, and in the future. 

But eating well can be, well, confusing. There are countless theories around meal timing, food choices, plant versus animal proteins and whether supplementing meals is worthwhile. Ngai recommends going back to basics: “The core tenants of healthy eating are ensuring that you get a variety of whole, minimally processed foods throughout the day,” she says. This includes a selection of fruits and vegetables, lean and/or plant-based protein sources, calcium, unsaturated fats (like olive or avocado oil) and lots of water. “These choices increase fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy fats to contribute to healthy eating,” she says. 


Get More (And Better Quality) Sleep

“When we look at the pillars of health, sleep is really the foundation because when we’re not sleeping well, we’re not making great nutritional choices, we don’t have the energy for physical activity, our mood and how we interact with those around us is affected,” says Alanna McGinn, a Toronto-based sleep coach and founder of Good Night Sleep Site. But if, like most Canadians, you’re not getting enough rest, you probably need to get serious about sleep hygiene, she says. 

Sleep hygiene refers to the steps and practices that people can adopt to help them catch more z’s. “These are simple lifestyle changes like following a consistent sleep pattern, having a calming and relaxing bedtime routine, watching what you eat and drink before bed, and creating a conducive bedtime environment,” says McGinn. Think waking up at the same time every day, shutting down screens well before bedtime, and making sure your sleep space is dark and quiet. 

“How much sleep do you need?” is one of the most popular Internet searches around sleep. We’re all wondering how many hours we actually require to keep us from wanting to down coffees all day long. According to McGinn, most adults need between six and nine hours a night. “Base it on how you feel when you wake up in the morning,” she says. If you’re rested when your alarm goes off, or you wake up without it, you’ve probably found your magic number.


Really Manage Your Stress

We all live with stress, that’s a given. But whether we are dealing with it in a healthy way is another matter. “I believe that many individuals are not effectively managing their stress,” says Krista Roesler, a registered psychotherapist, life coach and co-founder of Psych Company in Toronto. One issue, she says, is that many of us fail to recognize all the different types of stress we encounter and how they can affect our well-being. 

“While major stressors like moving, death, divorce, new jobs and illness are commonly acknowledged, there are numerous other stressors we encounter in our daily lives,” she says. These include the stress of navigating work and family relationships, the internal pressures we put on ourselves about parenting, job performance or personal appearance, for example. And then there are the seemingly minor daily stressors that can range from navigating commuter traffic to long lines at the grocery store. “Research has shown that stress from daily hassles can be more detrimental to our health than experiencing major stressors,” says Roesler. 

To really address our stress, we need to understand what’s actually getting us worked up. “By acknowledging and understanding the sources of stress in our lives, we can then work on developing strategies to manage and alleviate them more effectively,” says Roesler. Strategies could include relaxation techniques and talking to a friend about your worries. 


Move Your Body

Whether you enjoy yoga, walking, working out at the gym or have recently discovered pickleball, moving your body in one form or another will support long-term health and longevity. Every little bit counts, but if you’re wondering how much exercise will really do your body good, a study published in the journal Circulation suggests that people who move more than the national daily activity recommendations of 150 minutes a week also get the most benefit. Researchers found that people who exercised between five and 10 hours a week (including gentle movement like walking or moderate peddling on a stationary bike, for example) had the lowest risk of death from cardiovascular disease. 


Nurture Your Relationships

Life gets busy. It’s easy to cancel a date with a friend last minute, delay a call with a family member and not make enough special time for your partner. But relationships play a crucial role in maintaining our health in both the short and long term. “Nurturing our relationships, whether it be with friends, family, romantic partners or our broader social network, can have significant positive effects on our wellbeing,” says Roesler. Research shows that people with strong social connections tend to have a lower risk of many chronic illnesses, better physical health and improved mental health as they age. “By cultivating and fostering healthy relationships, we can significantly contribute to our own health, happiness and longevity,” she says. 


6 Live-well Essentials

Stay on top of all your health goals with the right gear!




Meditation can be an effective way to manage stress and prep for sleep. This cushion (made in Canada) will keep you comfortable, even during a long, seated practice. 

B Halfmoon meditation cushion, Altitude Sports, $116



Easily power through your favourite fruits and vegetables, from apples to carrots, for nutritious and delicious juices with just the right amount of pulp. 

Ninja NeverClog Cold Press Juicer, Amazon, $180 



Whether you’re out for a jog or just racing to the coffee shop before work, these lightweight sneakers provide the right amount of cushioning for wherever the day takes you.

Reebok Floatride Energy 5, SportChek, $140

Check out 7 more pairs of comfortable walking shoes.



With more than 40 exercise modes, sleep tracking, stress management scores and the most accurate heart rate tracking yet, this smartwatch will keep all your health goals on course. 

FitBit Charge 6, Amazon, now $170 (was $220)



Roll this peaceful blend of essential oils, including frankincense and sweet birch, along the back of your neck, hands and temples about an hour before bed to help unwind and ease you into sleep mode. 

Power Down Calming Oil Blend, Saje, $26



Need a little help to arrive in dreamland faster and stay asleep longer? These gummies contain a small amount of melatonin to help reset your body’s sleep-wake cycle. 

Genestra Sleep Gummies,, $28




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5 Scientifically-Proven Ways To Increase Your Life Expectancy