Tag Archives: health

How to Make New Friends at Any Age

colors-1174715-mI recently wanted to go see a chick flick, and my husband said he would absolutely not go with me. It was then I realized I have very few close friends. I know hundreds of people – at least that’s what my Facebook page says – but I could only think of a few girlfriends to call up and invite to go with me.

When did I lose all my friends? After high school, we went our separate ways to conquer the world. While I still keep in touch with many of these friends, we live all over the country. I have friends I made at work, but many have moved to different jobs in other cities. Now, I am a freelance writer working at home, so my work friends have become my husband and kids.

I made new friends when my kids started school and now our kids have grown up and taken over our lives. I went to dinner with two high school friends over two months ago. That’s the last girls’ night I remember.

I need more friends! It’s difficult to make and keep friendships in our 30s and 40s. However, having a great group of friends impacts your health and longevity.

Here are several strategies you can use to expand your circle of friends and create a more active social life:

Nurture current relationships
It’s so easy to get caught up in work, your kids’ activities and the demands of having a family. Make an effort to maintain your current relationships by keeping in touch and organizing at least one activity together a month. You may be waiting for friends to connect with you. Take the initiative and reach out to them!

Reconnect with old friends
The same approach goes for old friends. You may have that one friend who is a ball of energy and always makes you laugh. Another friend may love to go shopping or hit the antique malls. I actually have a friend I used to call when I wanted to go to the movies. We joked that we would still watch movies together when we were 80 years old. I need to call her before I am 80!

Change your day
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. We do the same routine every day, and it’s easier to just continue doing it rather than switch things up. I will admit it – I can be plain lazy. It takes so much less thought to simply sit on the couch and watch TV in the evenings than to go do something. Be open to random opportunities to change up your day and hang out with friends.

Think about your interests
It may help you connect with new friends if you have something in common. What are your interests? What do you like to do? I enjoy quilting, scrapbooking, and playing volleyball and softball. I used to belong to a quilting club but quit going when it interfered with my kids’ sports schedules. I am about 5 years behind in my scrapbooking, and I’m sure I could find friends who meet regularly. I could join a local adult sports league. You can also take classes in dance, art, fitness or even join a book club.

Accept invitations
When you’re busy and feeling overwhelmed with day-to-day activities, you may end up ignoring invitations. Try to change this habit. Even if the event isn’t something you would normally attend, it can open you up to a new set of people. You might be able to reconnect with old friends, get to know acquaintances better or meet new friends. Plus, if you keep turning people down, they will eventually stop inviting you.

Silence our inner voice
As we get older, we tend to sabotage our attempts to make friends. We may be afraid of being rejected or that others won’t like us. We all have traits that make us unique and interesting. And everyone has their own flaws and fears. Being able to look past someone else’s shortcomings – and have them do the same for you – is often what makes great, long-lasting relationships. So, let your freak flag fly a little bit, and see who waves a flag back at you.

Volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to meet others who have similar interests as you. If there is something you feel particularly passionate about, it will be good for your soul and help you make new friends. For instance, you may want to support cancer research, help the homeless or provide tutoring. Giving back is good for those you help, serves your community and can be rewarding for you as well.

Good friendships take time. Be yourself, keep your head up and embrace new chances to meet people or have fun with old friends. The best friendships develop over time and take energy and commitment. So, call up a friend and do something fun!

Advertisements

9 foods to help you concentrate

Wild blueberries help you focus and conentrateI just read an article that says cognitive decline – or our ability to reason and remember things – can start to affect our brains as early as age 45. As someone who is rapidly approaching my mid-40s, I have to say this concerns me.

I have been on a journey this past year to live a healthier lifestyle and find more balance in my life. There are always challenges to maintaining a healthy balance. I get stressed out by the demands of work and family. I fall back into unhealthy eating habits or neglect my exercise routine. I sacrifice sleep to get more done.

The last thing I need is to have a sluggish brain and poor concentration while I’m trying to achieve more and live a balanced life. After doing some research, I found that there are several foods that can help me focus and improve my ability to concentrate.

Add these 9 super foods to your diet to help maintain a healthy brain:

Coffee
Caffeine has been shown to slow the aging process and improve short-term memory. While coffee isn’t necessarily going to make you smarter, it can boost your performance and make you more alert. As a huge fan of the benefits of drinking coffee, I am happy to learn that it can also help me concentrate.

Chocolate
Dark chocolate also provides a caffeine boost and contains powerful antioxidants that can help enhance your focus. Plus, chocolate just makes you feel good.

Berries
Berries have been shown to protect the brain from free radicals and help reduce the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and make a good snack. You can also add them to your cereal or oatmeal for a healthy breakfast.

Whole grains
Whole grains, such as oatmeal, cereal, quinoa and barley, contribute to your daily intake of fiber. Whole grains also contain B-vitamins that are used to break down carbohydrates to give your brain energy.

Fish
Fish are a great protein source and give your brain a boost. They are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function and development. These healthy fats have amazing brain power. Salmon and other fatty fish like tuna and mackerel contain an important fat for brain health called DHA. Salmon is a good source of protein, which can also help you stay focused. To reap the benefits, add fish to your diet two or three times a week.

Leafy greens
Leafy greens, including spinach, kale and arugula, contain nutrient compounds that help the brain stay young. They also provide the antioxidant lutein, which can prevent cognitive decline. Try to eat two servings of leafy greens a day.

Nuts and flaxseeds
Nuts, especially walnuts, give your body magnesium, which helps your body function more efficiently and fights off fatigue. Flax is the best source for alpha-linolenic acid – a healthy fat that improves the workings of your brain.

Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba has been used for thousands of years for both concentration and memory. It is thought to boost blood flow and oxygen to the brain and improve function and memory. Ginkgo biloba can be added to your diet as a supplement.

Gum
While gum is not a food, it has been shown in studies to help people be more alert while performing tasks. So, if you want to improve your concentration, chew a piece of gum!

Eating a healthy, balanced diet helps you get the essential nutrients you need to focus. If you eat too much or too little, that can also interfere with your ability to concentrate. For the best brain benefits, eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fiber and protein.

12 healthy snacks on the go

Healthy snack dried fruit and nutsMy kids are out of school, softball and baseball games have started, and summer is on its way. I find myself running from one activity to another, and we need to find something to eat.

It can be hard to pick up healthy snacks to eat on the go. You may be tempted to grab chips, cookies, candy bars or soda. Prepackaged snacks are often loaded with sugar, salt and unhealthy fats.

With a little planning, you can pack nutritious, portable snacks for you or your kids to eat as you rush from place to place.

Here are 12 quick and healthy snacks you can take with you on the go:

Trail mix
You can make your own trail mix by combining nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews) with no-sugar added dried fruit. I also add sunflower seeds when I make it. My kids like to have pretzels in their trail mix. You can also buy prepackaged trail mix, but try to avoid those with candy.

Pretzels
Speaking of pretzels, just take a bag of pretzels with you to snack on while you’re in the car. They have a low mess factor, and they’re easy to eat while you drive. You can also mix pretzels with dry whole-grain cereal to make your own snack mix.

Nuts
All nuts are about equal in terms of calories per ounce, and in moderation, are all healthy additions to any diet. Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber. They will help you feel full and suppress your appetite. Go with raw or dry roasted nuts for the most benefits. So, snack on some almonds, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans or Brazil nuts.

Apples and peanut butter
You can take apples with you on the go. I cut mine up in slices and put them in a baggie. If you are going to eat them within a few hours, they still stay fresh. You can buy single servings of peanut butter to easily carry with you. You can even switch it up and have celery or rice cakes with your peanut butter.

Popcorn
Pop a bag of popcorn (without butter or salt) and put it in a plastic baggie to take with you. You can even add other things in with it like pretzels or nuts.

Carrot sticks and Laughing Cow Cheese
If you’re going to eat it within 4 hours, you can take carrots and a wedge of Laughing Cow Cheese with you. You get some veggies and a little bit of dairy. If it will be longer than 4 hours, you may want to take an insulated cooler and ice pack.

Whole-grain cereal with sunflower seeds
Put 2 parts cereal and 1 part seeds in a baggie to take with you. You can also store it in your purse, desk drawer or vehicle for several weeks to snack on as needed.

Yogurt and fruit/granola
Grab a cup of Greek yogurt and some fresh fruit or granola to flavor it up a bit. If you aren’t going to eat it fairly quickly, you may want to pack the yogurt in a cooler with an ice pack.

Raw veggies
With a little planning, you can pre-cut vegetables to take with you. Carrots, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and celery all make great portable vegetables.

Whole fruit
You can easily take apples, oranges, pears, bananas and grapes with you. If you find some of the fruits are easier to eat when they are cut up, put them in a baggie or container to take along with you.

Wheat Thins and string cheese
Wheat Thins give you fiber and whole-grain carbs. String cheese is high in calcium and protein yet lower in fat than most other cheeses. Plus, it comes in a handy package that you can grab in a rush. You can also eat cheese with fruit and raw veggies.

Hard-boiled egg
You can make hard-boiled eggs ahead of time for an easy snack on the go. Hard-boiled eggs contain protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, lutein and other great nutrients.

By taking along a few healthy snacks when you’re on the go, you can stave off hunger and keep your metabolism and energy levels steady all day long. Do you have your own favorite healthy snacks?

Best exercises to lower your cholesterol

Control cholesterol with exerciseHigh cholesterol increases your risk of developing heart disease. Heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes, is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 33.5% of Americans have high LDL or “bad” cholesterol.

The good news is that a healthy diet, exercise and weight loss are the key components of reducing LDL cholesterol levels. While cholesterol-lowering drugs may also help, most health professionals would recommend lifestyle changes as the first defense (except in those with very high lipid levels, or pre-existing diabetes or coronary disease).*

So, you’ve been told you need to lower your LDL cholesterol. Exercise is one of the best ways to help control your cholesterol. But what kind of exercise should you do? How long and how often?

Here are answers to the questions you may have about the best exercise routine to lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol and even raise your “good” HDL cholesterol:

What type of exercise is best?

Aerobic exercises seem to benefit cholesterol the most – lowering LDL by 5 to 10% and raising HDL cholesterol by 3 to 6%. Aerobic exercise includes jogging, running and walking.

In addition, newer exercise crazes such as zumba and kickboxing are aerobic. You can even swim, cycle or do yoga. Everyday activities like walking the dog, raking leaves and dancing can also count.

The reason aerobic exercise is the best for reducing cholesterol is that it makes your heart pump harder and faster. You then raise your metabolism and cause your body to burn more calories. Your body burns calories it gained from fat, and reducing this fat impacts your LDL cholesterol levels. Exercise also helps keep LDL cholesterol from building up on the walls of your arteries, which is good for your heart health.

strength trainingStudies have shown that strength training can also help improve your LDL and HDL levels. In addition, strength or resistance training will help you build muscle. Adding in stretching exercises will help keep you more limber and flexible, and you’ll be less likely to experience an injury. Endurance, strength and flexibility all add up to increase your overall level of fitness.

How much exercise do I need?

Most research has shown that to lower cholesterol levels, you should exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. The good news is that you don’t have to fit it in all at lower cholesterol levelsone time. You can divide the time up into 10 or 15-minute sessions – as long as you get in the 30 minutes total.

You can also mix up the types of exercise you do in a day. For instance, you could take a 10-minute walk, rake leaves for 10 minutes and do 10 minutes of strength training.

And, if you’re not up to vigorous exercise every day, then any type of physical activity is better than none. Just get up and get moving!

What else can I do to achieve lower cholesterol?

Lose weight
A side benefit of increasing your activity levels and exercising more vigorously is that you may also lose weight. People who are overweight tend to have elevated LDL cholesterol. Therefore, losing even 5 to 10% of your body weight will also help improve your cholesterol levels. Keep in mind that you can be at the recommended weight and still have high cholesterol, so exercising is important for everyone.

lower cholesterol heart healthy foodsEating heart-healthy foods
Choose healthier fats such as those found in leaner cuts of meat and low-fat dairy. In addition, monounsaturated fats found in olive, peanut and canola oils are healthier options.

Avoid trans fats which can be found in fried foods and many commercially baked products like cookies and snack cakes.

Choose whole-grain breads, whole-wheat pastas and flour, and brown rice. Eat fruits and vegetables because are rich in fiber and help lower cholesterol.

Quit smoking
If you stop smoking, it can improve your HDL cholesterol level. You also reduce your risk of a heart attack and your blood pressure decreases.

Drink in moderation
Moderate alcohol levels may increase your levels of HDL or good cholesterol. However, the benefits aren’t strong enough to start drinking if you don’t currently. And, drinking too much leads to serious health problems, so keep it to one drink a day for women and one or two drinks a day for men.

Exercise has so many benefits beyond lowering cholesterol. It can help keep your bones strong, reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and stroke, improve your mood, and help you sleep.

Now, step away from the computer or mobile device and get moving!

*It is important that you consult your physician and other practitioners/counselors/consultants before initiating any changes in your diet or exercise program.

The power of positive thinking

positive thinkingYou’ve heard the sayings. Look on the bright side. Every cloud has a silver lining. The glass is half full. Positive thinking can be more powerful than you may realize. People who have an optimistic view of life tend to be healthier and have a greater overall well-being.

I know, one of your overly perky friends probably just popped into your head. We aren’t talking about fooling yourself into thinking everything is fine when it’s not. Or, having blind enthusiasm in any situation. Positive thinking means having the resources and the ability to stay positive even when things are hectic and aren’t going your way.

If you are serious about creating a more balanced life and improving your physical, mental and emotional health, now is the time to embrace positive thinking.

Here are some of the powerful benefits of positive thinking:

It’s good for your health
Being positive may help you live longer. Positive thinking can reduce your heart rate, decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and lower your chances of having diabetes or cancer. In addition, pessimistic thinking is one of the factors in depression. Changing the way you think can improve your mood and help combat depression.

Boosts your immunity
Positive thinking can help you fight off common colds and other illnesses. Negative thinking may even reduce the effectiveness of your flu vaccine. People with positive attitudes also recover faster from surgery and cope better with serious diseases.

Helps you manage stress
When faced with stress, a positive thinker will cope with hardships better than a negative thinker. For instance, you just found out that you didn’t get the job or promotion you wanted. Rather than being frustrated and dwelling on the negative or things you cannot change, a positive thinker will device a plan of action to overcome the obstacle or will think of new opportunities to pursue.

Opens your mind
By practice positive thinking, you will start to see things in a different way. You are able to more easily shift your mindset and your focus to see the good and the bad side of a situation. If you are used to seeing the negative in any situation, you may miss seeing the good side no matter how obvious it might be. Positive thinking also helps you look for solutions rather than wasting energy on negative emotions.

Connects you with others
Who would you rather be around? The upbeat person who sees the good in a situation and is enthusiastic about whatever comes his or her way, or the Debbie Downer who complains about everything and doesn’t see the good in anything or anyone. People like to spend time with people who are genuinely happy and make others feel good, too. So, be positive and make friends!

Now you know that positive thinking can be beneficial to you in many ways. How do you know if you’re being negative? What can you do to change negative thinking into positive thinking? First, you need to recognize when negative thoughts are creeping in. Then, learn how to focus your thoughts to be more positive and optimistic.

How to recognize negative thinking:

Do you filter?
Are you magnifying the negative aspects of a situation and filtering out all of the positive? For instance, someone says, “You look great today.” Do you accept the compliment at face value, or do you analyze the remark negatively and think, “Does that mean I don’t look good most days?”

Do you personalize?
When something bad happens, do you automatically blame yourself? Let’s say you had plans to go out with friends and they cancelled. You then assume they changed their plans because they didn’t want to be around you.

Do you think the worst?
Do you automatically think the worst will happen? For example, you get in your car to go to work and your radio isn’t working. Do you assume that this is just going to be a bad day and everything will be a disaster?

Do you only see extremes?
Do you think of things as good or bad, and only black or white? You may think you have to be perfect, or you have failed. If you burn a batch of cookies, do you decide you are a terrible cook?

How can you overcome these types of negative thinking? With practice and a few tips, you can create a new habit of thinking positive.

Learn to focus on the positive:

Identify your problem areas
You may have certain areas of your life where you automatically go into negative mode. You may be feeling down about your job. You and your spouse may be in a rut of arguing and bickering. Start small by focusing on one area and approach it with positive thoughts.

Catch yourself
When you start to be a Negative Nelly, catch yourself and find a way to put a positive spin on the situation and your thoughts.

Get healthy
Practicing a healthy lifestyle can help you have a more positive outlook. Try to exercise at least three times a week. Fuel your mind and body with healthy foods to help boost your mood.

Hang out with positive people
Make sure the people you are around have a positive attitude. If you have a negative friend, he or she may want to bring your mood down with them. Supportive people with give you helpful advice and feedback.

Smile!
Find reasons to smile or laugh, even when you’re having a difficult time. Try to find humor in a situation. Or just smile for no reason. You will be surprised how much better it will make you feel. And you might get a few smiles back!

I truly believe that being positive is rewarding in so many ways. I also think that sometimes things happen for a reason. What seems like a negative situation at the time can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Do you have any stories about the power of positive thinking?

10 tips to a happy marriage

happy marriageMy husband and I have been married for 20 years. We dated for 5 years.That means we have been together for 25 years. I have to say it just astounds me that we have been together that long. I don’t feel like I should be 25 years old, let alone be in a relationship for that many years.

What does it take to make a marriage last? I can honestly say that I haven’t really given it that much thought. In the United States, couples marrying for the first time have approximately a 50% chance of divorcing. What are the other 50% doing that makes them stick it out?

Here are some tips to creating a happy marriage:

Plan for the long haul
When my husband and I got married, we both knew it was forever. We talked about the fact that divorce would never be an option. I think once you take that choice off the table, it’s much easier to plan for the long haul. I have friends who threaten divorce on a regular basis. I always think: Be careful what you wish for. A happy marriage is a committed marriage. Each party knows that the only option is to create a long, memorable life together.

Be best friends
While I believe it was love at first sight for my husband and me, I also feel that we are best friends. We trust each other. We are willing to do dumb and embarrassing stuff in front of each other. We have each other’s backs. When you’re best friends, you truly enjoying spending time together. You have a shared history and inside jokes. You can communicate without talking. You may even annoy the people around you (which is part of the fun). You may also annoy each other from time to time, but underneath it all you still value and respect your spouse.

Keep the spark alive
In any good relationship, sex is more than just a physical act. It’s a vital part of the health and emotional well-being of a marriage. It’s a connection that only the two of you share. Obviously, over the years, your sexual relationship will evolve. The sparks may fly when you first meet, but when you add jobs, a mortgage, kids, sleep deprivation, and a few decades, it can be harder to keep the romance burning. You have to discover ways to fan the flames and nurture your relationship with each other.

Share a dream
To be happy, you and your spouse need to create shared dreams. You should have the same vision. For instance, it may be buying a house, taking a certain vacation or starting a family. Obviously, the shared dream will change and evolve over time as your current dream is realized. You can also have separate dreams. For instance, one partner may want to switch jobs or go back to school. It’s important for couples to be supportive of each other’s dreams as well.

Accept your differences
Even the most in tune couples have differences. That’s what makes us individuals, and frankly, more interesting. My husband is Catholic, and I grew up Methodist. I am about as liberal as you can get, and he is conservative. He goes hunting, and I can’t squish a spider because I worry that its spider babies will be orphans. I love shoes, and he loves power tools. (It works out – he can build shelves for my shoes.) We have learned to accept that we are different. In fact, I think the differences are what makes us more compatible. And it definitely keeps things exciting.

Put each other first
Your spouse comes before your parents, your friends or your siblings. When you are first married, it’s easy to go crying to Mom or Dad when things get tough. However, it’s important to talk to your spouse when you have problems, rather than talking about them to your family or friends. My husband and I moved 250 miles away from home right after we got married. I actually think it was good for our marriage because we didn’t have friends or family nearby. We had to face the good and the bad together.

At the same time, you should stay connected to your parents. In recent years, my husband and I have moved back home and live within a few miles of our families. I talk on the phone with my mom every few days. My husband helps his dad with household repairs. We are close to our families, but we also maintain our own relationship.

Fight fair
There’s fighting that means having a heated discussion or bickering about trivial things. And then there is fighting as in screaming, yelling and throwing things. My husband and I both grew up in households where our parents discussed issues, argued their points of view and then came to a compromise. We argued more when we were first married, but now we rarely have serious disagreements. We have learned it’s less stressful and less time consuming if we just work it out.

Happy couples learn how to fight fair. They learn how to talk things over constructively. You listen to each other and don’t try to find a solution until both sides have had their say. You may need to table the discussion so each person can think about it. There is no blame. No one is called names or belittled. It’s not a power struggle. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s about what is best for you as a family. You give and you compromise.

Find balance
My husband and I have learned that we can’t spend every waking moment together. We get on each other’s nerves. We enjoy spending time together, but we also like to be away from each other. There should be a healthy balance of family time, spouse time and alone time. You may think you’re spending time with your spouse, but it may actually be time with your kids or other family members. You and your spouse should find time to have a conversation that doesn’t involve kids, work or household chores. Happy couples find the time to strengthen their connection. And they do things on their own that make them happy, too.

Face it together
At some point, your relationship will be tested. There may be a serious illness, job loss or a death in the family. The tough times will put the biggest strain on your relationship. The stress can pull a couple apart. But, if you stick together when things get rough, you will come out on the other side with a stronger marriage than ever.

Laugh about it
Laughter is the best medicine. It’s good to laugh together or at your current situation. Humor can help diffuse an argument or lighten the mood. Good marriages keep the humor alive. My husband can even make me laugh while I’m in the middle of a teary breakdown. He knows when I need to take myself less seriously. That is true love.

And, don’t forget, being married might help you live longer, so that’s another reason to stick with it. How long have you been married? Do you have tips to creating a happy marriage?

14 secrets to living longer

living longerMy husband and I have very different views on aging. He wants to live as long as possible – on the condition that he is in good health. He has made it clear to me that if he were on life support and there was no chance of regaining quality of life, he wants me to pull the plug.

I, on the other hand, want to live forever. Since that’s not possible, I at least want to live to 100. I have told him he is – under no circumstances – to pull the plug. I could be one of those miraculous survivors who beat the odds.

I know this is a rather morbid subject, but if you are like me and want to live your longest life, you want to know what you can do to make it to 100. After reviewing studies, research and even tips from centenarians, here are some secrets to longevity:

Be conscientious
Having a conscientious personality and attributes like attention to detail and persistence may help you live longer. Studies have shown that conscientious people do more things to protect their health  – such as exercise, eat healthy and avoid bad habits – and make choices that lead to stronger relationships and better careers.

Make friends
Be grateful for your friends. As we mentioned in our blog, 7 Reasons We Need Friends, your friends may help you live longer. But, be picky. You want to have friends with good habits, such as exercising and healthy eating. Otherwise, a friend’s bad habits, like smoking or overeating, can rub off on you.

Take naps
This may be one of my favorite secrets on the list. I now have permission to take naps! There’s scientific evidence that napping may help increase longevity. A recent study suggests that by taking naps you are 37% less likely to die from heart disease. So, go take a siesta!

Get married
There is some debate about whether being married will help you live longer, but having a partner in life may have its benefits. With marriage, you have a friend and your own support system. In addition, being married may mean you are more financially stable, which can make you feel more secure and give you more opportunities to do things you enjoy.

Eat a Mediterranean diet
A Mediterranean diet consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and fish. Studies have shown that this type of diet can help reduce obesity, lower blood sugar, decrease blood pressure, and help lower your chances of heart disease and diabetes.

Lose weight
Belly fat seems to be particularly bad for your health and longevity. So, work on slimming down and deflating the spare tire. The health benefits can include protecting against diabetes, heart disease and other life-shortening conditions. One way to lose weight is to eat less. Stop eating when you’re 80% full. Eat less meat and eat twice as many fruits and vegetables. We know we need to eat better, so add living longer to the reasons you should adopt a healthy diet.

Keep moving
According to studies, regular physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some forms of cancer and depression. Exercise may even help you stay mentally sharp as you age. You should aim for 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week. You can break that down to 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Even if you can only get in 10 minutes at a time, it all adds up to increase your lifespan. Here are some tips to Get Motivated to Exercise in 2013.

Drink in moderation
Yes, heart disease is less common in people who have a drink or two a day than those who don’t drink at all. However, you need to remember that alcohol is also empty calories that add to that belly bulge. The American Heart Association recommends that if you drink alcohol, the limit should be one drink a day for women and one or two for men. If you don’t drink currently, you shouldn’t start.

Quit smoking
We all know that smoking is bad for your health. Not only is there a greater risk of cancer, you’re also taking years off of your life. So, if you haven’t already, now is the time to quit smoking.

Have faith
Having faith seems to help you live longer. By having strong spiritual beliefs, you are able to better deal with stress and difficult times. It may also offer protection against heart, respiratory and digestive problems. In addition, the strong social network that you create when you worship with others may contribute to overall health.

Manage stress
We always hear that stress is bad for you, but moderate stress can be a good thing. It means you are probably busy, active and involved. Rather than being sedentary and ambivalent, you are persistent and dedicated to getting things done. However, too much stress can be harmful if it causes anxiety, insomnia or digestive issues. Are you too stressed? Read our blog Do You Have Chronic Stress? 6 Major Signs.

Sleep more
As you may have read in our blog, 10 Reasons Get More Sleep, getting plenty of rest can help you fight disease, lose weight, look better and build your brain. Getting enough good quality sleep can even lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and mood disorders. Sleep will also help you recover from illness faster.

Offer forgiveness
Just let it go. Offering forgiveness has surprising physical health benefits. Forgiveness can help you reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and help you to breathe more easily. These benefits tend to increase as you get older.

Have a sense of purpose
There is something to doing what you love. We all have days when we need a reason to get out of bed. Having a sense of purpose leads to a higher quality of life. You may love your work and look forward to it every day. You may have hobbies and activities that have meaning for you. You may find that volunteering makes you feel fulfilled. For more benefits of volunteering, see our blog, 5 Surprising Benefits of Giving Back. Basically, doing what you love may contribute to a longer life.

So, now you know what you need to do to live your longest life! Do you know someone who is 100 or older? What are their secrets to longevity?