A new year means new habits, and hopefully ones that are healthy! There is an epidemic of wellness and a growing body of evidence that we can do simple things to live longer and healthier. Here is a summary of the research, applied into a typical week’s timetable that you can adopt in 2020:


Get your week started with eating the right foods. Plant-based diets are the rage and the evidence shows these can reduce the rate of death from heart-disease by 30%, plus reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In addition, fasting for some periods of the day (occasionally skipping a meal), or having a couple of low calorie days during the week, also helps with longevity, weight management, brain function and performance at work.


Then, let’s get active! Exercising regularly results in a 4-fold lower heart attack and heart failure risk, less age-related inflammation, a slower reduction in muscle mass, and delayed onset of dementia and neurological decline. Both aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or jogging, and strength exercise, such as yoga and tai chi, can minimise the ageing effect on our bodies and reduce the chance of early death by 25%. Aim for a few sessions of exercise per week if you can.


Mid week, manage any stress at work or in life, through mindfulness, meditation, yoga, relaxation therapy, practising gratitude, pursuing hobbies, doing crosswords and puzzles, and if severe, seeing a GP or psychologist or counsellor. All these interventions are evidence based ways to lengthen telomeres, which are the ends of chromosomes in our body that prevent ageing. All it takes is attending a class, meeting up with friends or finding ways to give thanks to someone during the week.


One of the more significant findings in long term medical research has highlighted the importance of addressing loneliness, which is linked to numerous health issues including heart attacks, strokes, depression, anxiety, obesity, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and early death. So make an effort to spend time with family, friends, neighbours and explore social networks through clubs, churches, reading groups, walking groups, sports teams, gyms, support groups. Find your niche in the community and ensure you’re socially connected with others during the week.


As you wind up for the week, consider building a new daily habit in your daily routine. Good habits include drinking coffee (10 – 15% lower death rate if you drink 2-6 cups of coffee per day), taking a Vitamin D every day (reduces dementia risk, cancer rate and improves survival), going for a brisk walk (reduces cancer risk, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and arthritis pain, and time off work), taking up art or singing (improves mood and quality of life), and avoiding sitting all day (to reduce heart disease risk). Lifestyle measures can have a significant impact on our health and well-being.


Last but not least, ensure you get adequate sleep. Adopting good sleep hygiene (no distractions, minimise caffeine, regular bed habits etc.) and relaxing prior to going to bed is important in reducing the risk of diabetes, fatigue, heart disease, anxiety, depression and the risk of death (10% increased risk if sleep less than 7 hours vs sleep more than 8 hours). Make the most of weekends by finding ways to relax and lower your pulse rate, carving out some time for self-care, catching up on rest and replenishing energy stores to prepare for the week ahead.

For more information on these habits for longevity and health, read news articles on Osana’s website. Here’s to a long and healthy life!