You give your all to building your business, and you're in it for the long haul: Working hard to serve your customers and create a future for your employees. You make decisions and take actions today that will pay off in the years to come. 

That premise should extend to making sure you take do things to take care of yourself -- physically and mentally -- as you build your business. 

Which should be easy due to advances in science, medicine, and nutrition, and the availability of quality healthcare.

Except, if you live in the U.S., it's not.  We rank 43rd out of 195 countries in terms of average life expectancy, at just over 76 years. (Monaco ranks number one, with Japan close behind.)

But those results indicate the aggregate. What about you?

On an individual level, there's good news: A 34-year Harvard University study of over 123,000 people found adopting 5 simple habits can dramatically increase your lifespan by as much as an extra 14 years for women and 12 years for men.

And it gets better: Just-released research shows that adopting 4 out of 5 of those habits (swapping in late-life cognitive activities for bodyweight) will also decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer's by 60 percent compared to people who follow none or one.

A similar study shows that the risk of dementia and overall cognitive decline decreases by over 30 percent.

While it might sound hard to believe it's possible to live that much longer than average, think about it: The top 5 factors of longevity are life-style related health issues.

Like tobacco and alcohol. Obesity. High blood pressure. Elevated blood sugar. The people who met the 5 criteria were over 80 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, and over 60 percent less likely to die from cancer, than those who did not meet the 5 criteria.

And here's the best part: All 5 factors totally, or at least partially, within our control.

Here are the 5 habits for living a longer life:

  1. Don't smoke. Or vape. Or chew. Or dip.
  2. Drink in moderation. No more than one glass of wine for women, two for men. 
  3. Exercise regularly. On average, 30 minutes per day.
  4. Eat healthy. Think a "Mediterranean" diet: Plenty of vegetables, poultry and fish for protein, grains and nuts... with a limited amount of red meat and fried food.
  5. Maintain a healthy bodyweight. Generally speaking, a BMI that falls between 18.5 and 25.

Compared to people who don't meet any of those criteria, do those 5 things... and if you're a woman your life expectancy will increase from 79 to 93.1 years old. If you're a man, from 75.5 to 87.6 years old. 

How's that for actions that result in a major payoff?

The list for avoiding Alzheimer's and dementia is similar:

  1. Don't smoke.
  2. Drink in moderation.
  3. Exercise for at least 150 minutes a week.
  4. Consume a "brain supporting diet" (pretty much a "Mediterranean" diet).
  5. Engage in late-life cognitive activities.

(Cognitive activities makes the list while bodyweight doesn't... but maybe that's because eating well and exercising regularly should result in a healthier bodyweight.)

Do the above and you're 60 percent less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's. And, of course, you'll live longer. Win-win.

As long as you take action.

Starting today.

How to Get Started

Let's deal with the big one first: Smoking. Studies show that smoking will cause you to die seven years sooner than people who don't.  So if you smoke, start there: Because no matter how much you exercise, no matter how awesome your diet... smoking can kill you.

And increase your rate of cognitive decline. 

Then focus on diet and exercise. If you're overweight, start eating healthier. If you're out of shape, start exercising more. Eating well and exercising regularly actually hits 3 items on the list, since improving your diet and exercising more should naturally reduce your percentage of body fat.

As for alcohol, the key is to focus on the aggregate. You can exceed the guidelines occasionally; the goal is to average the equivalent of one glass of wine a day if you're a woman, two if you're a man.

Of course that's true with everything on the list. If you didn't exercise the last two days, no problem: Just make sure you work out today. If you blew your diet last night, no problem: Just get back on track today. 

And keep in mind that even if you don't always meet all five criteria, that's also okay. Any lifestyle improvements you make will incrementally improve your life expectancy.

The more the merrier, of course... but every improvement is a good thing.

And as for late-life cognitive activities? If you're an entrepreneur, you've got that covered: The mental and emotional challenges you face on a daily basis will definitely keep your mind stimulated.

Which is yet another reason why it's great to be an entrepreneur. 

Published on: Jul 18, 2019
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