How to Live to 100: 12 Simple Rules

Sure, your genes have something to do with your life span, but the doctors we spoke to agreed that you can make a big dent in your risk of chronic disease by doing 12 simple things. What's more, the following checklist isn't just a prescription for living long; it's your ticket to living well.

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Stop smoking.

Four years after doing so, your chance of having a heart attack falls to that of someone who has never smoked. After ten years, your lung cancer risk drops to nearly that of a nonsmoker.

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Exercise daily.

Thirty minutes of activity is all that's necessary. Three ten-minute walks will do it.

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Eat your produce.

Fruit, vegetables ... just make sure you get five servings every day.

Get screened.

No need to go test-crazy; just get the health screenings recommended for your stage of life. Check with your doctor to make sure you're up-to-date.

Sleep.

For most adults, that means seven to eight hours every night. If you have a tough time turning off the light, remember that sleep deprivation raises the risk of heart disease, cancer, and more.

Ask your doctor about low-dose aspirin.

Heart attack, stroke, even cancer—a single 81 mg tablet per day may fight them all. (Aspirin comes with risks, though, so don't start on your own.)

Know your blood pressure numbers.

It's not called the silent killer just to give your life a little more drama. Keep yours under 120/80.

Stay connected.

Loneliness is another form of stress. Friends, family, and furry pets supply vitamin F.

Cut back on saturated fat.

It's the raw material your body uses for producing LDL, bad cholesterol.

Get help for depression.

It doesn't just feel bad; it does bad things to your body. In fact, when tacked onto diabetes and heart disease, it increases risk of early death by as much as 30 percent.

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Manage your stress.

The doctors we surveyed say that living with uncontrolled stress is more destructive to your health than being 30 pounds overweight.

Have a higher purpose.

As one physician advised, "Strive to achieve something bigger than yourself." By giving back, you give to yourself.

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