The 44 Words That Will Give You a Longer (and Happier) Life

There’s an old saying: “It’s not about adding years to your life but adding life to your years.” So how can you feel—and look—younger at any age? Read on for the experts’ top findings.

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Listen

44 Words to Live (Longer & Better)TERRY DOYLE FOR Reader's Digest Magazine
A French study showed that listening to relaxing music before surgery was more effective at reducing anxiety than a sedative medication. These are other incredible health benefits of music.

Grip

According to a 25-year study of more than 6,000 men age 45 through 68, grip strength was the best predictor of how well they’d avoid being in­capacitated later in life. The weakest-gripping men suffered twice the disabilities those with hands of steel did. In a separate study of nearly 140,000 men and women, poor grip strength correlated with a higher incidence of death, especially from cardiovascular disease. 

Surf

In a small study of people age 55 to 76, those who carried out a series of Web searches showed increased activity in regions of the brain that control reading, language, memory, and visual ability. Regular Web surfers showed a significant boost in the areas that deal with decision making and complex reasoning. These keyboard shortcuts will make your web browsing easy and enjoyable

Breakfast

Harvard University scientists tracked more than 367,000 older adults for an average of 14 years and found that those who ate the most cereal fiber had a 19 percent lower risk of death from any cause than those who ate the least. Most notably, people who ate the most cereal fiber were 34 percent less likely to die from diabetes. Cereal fiber is found in cereal, whole-wheat bread, barley, and bran. Try these nutritionist-approved ideas for a healthy breakfast

Read

Researchers in Britain asked participants who were feeling stressed to engage in various activities, including reading, listening to music, having a cup of tea or coffee, and taking a walk. Reading reduced stress levels and heart rates by 68 percent, the most significant effect of any item on the list. (The least effective: video games.) Find some suggestions for books to read here

Adapt

One lesson of Hamlet: Learn to weather “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” if you want to live to a ripe old age. A Harvard study came to the same conclusion: Less than 2 percent of men who were observed exhibiting “psychological hardiness”—­mental resilience in the face of stress, anxiety, and ­depression—died before they were 53. In the less resilient group, 37 percent died by that age.

Socialize

Lonely people have a 14 percent greater risk of dying than the average person, twice the death risk associated with obesity. A University of North Carolina study specifically found that social isolation increases hypertension even more than diabetes does. ­Related research links loneliness to a weakened immune system and higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and depression. If you have social anxiety, these tips will help you calm your mind.

Onions

Older women who ate onions every day had a 5 percent greater bone density than those who ate them once a month or less, according to researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina. They also decreased their risk of a hip fracture by more than 20 percent.

Enjoy

44 Words to Live (Longer & Better)TERRY DOYLE FOR Reader's Digest Magazine

When you want dessert, take a bite or two of the good stuff. Susan B. Roberts, coauthor of a Tufts University study on cravings, finds that people who manage their weight best happily succumb at times.

Belt

It may sound illogical, but if you have a less-than-flat tummy, your best tactic is to have a belt cut across it—not too high (looks old), not too low (sloppy), but smack through the middle. “It creates a shorter torso and a longer leg line,” explains Stacy London, who cohosted TLC’s show What Not to Wear, “which makes you look taller and leaner.”

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