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To live longer, do these 5 things every day, says a neurologist and aging expert

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While certain factors are out of our control, there are some things we can do to extend our lives.

“For the average individual, everyday behaviors under our own control have a greater impact on healthy longevity than genetics,” Dr. Gary Small, a memory, brain and aging expert at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey, told Fox News Digital.

“Even people with a genetic predisposition to developing Alzheimer’s disease can stave off symptoms for years by living a healthy lifestyle,” he added.

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Small, who is also the behavioral health physician-in-chief for Hackensack, shared the five most important behaviors to adopt in order to live a longer, healthier life.

Check out his tips. 

Seniors cooking

A healthy diet can have a major impact on life expectancy by lowering the risk for heart disease, cancer and other age-related illnesses.  (iStock)

No. 1: Stay positive

There is scientific evidence that keeping a positive outlook helps us live longer and healthier, Small noted. 

“Optimists have fewer physical and emotional difficulties, experience less pain, enjoy higher energy levels and are generally happier and calmer in their lives,” he said. 

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“Optimism also has been shown to boost the body’s immune system so that we can better fight infection.”

Research has shown that when people make a conscious effort to be more optimistic, it can actually transform their attitude, Small said. 

“Expressing feelings of gratitude can increase levels of optimism,” he added.

No. 2: Get active

Numerous studies have linked regular physical activity to a longer life expectancy.

“Cardiovascular conditioning improves circulation, elevates endorphins and proteins that strengthen brain cellular communication, and boosts heart health,” Small said. 

Seniors exercising

Numerous studies have linked regular physical activity to a longer life expectancy. (iStock)

“Many people find that it is difficult to get started, but once they do, they enjoy better energy, sleep and mood, and those benefits motivate them to continue their exercise routine for the long haul,” he went on.

Experts recommend a combination of strength training (lifting weights) and aerobic exercise.

“Everyday behaviors under our own control have a greater impact on healthy longevity than genetics.”

For those who are just starting an exercise program, it’s best to start out slow, set modest goals and gradually build stamina, the doctor said. 

He recommended finding an exercise program that’s enjoyable, whether it’s jogging, cycling, swimming, yoga, spinning or pickleball. 

No. 3: Eat well

A healthy diet can have a major impact on life expectancy by lowering the risk for heart disease, cancer and other age-related illnesses, according to Small.  

“Obesity in mid-life increases the risk for dementia later in life, so portion control protects brain health,” he told Fox News Digital.

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Omega-3 fats from fish and nuts also reduce heightened inflammation, which can damage the brain and heart, Small noted. 

“Antioxidant fruits and vegetables reduce age-related oxidative stress, which can cause wear and tear on cells throughout the body,” he said.

The doctor also recommends minimizing the consumption of processed foods and refined sugars to reduce the risk of developing diabetes, which has been linked to higher chances of dementia.

No. 4: Manage stress

As chronic stress increases the risk for dementia and heart problems, Small recommends incorporating a stress reduction program into the daily routine.

Woman meditating

Adopting a stress reduction program can reduce the risk for dementia and heart problems, the doctor said. (iStock)

“Meditation and relaxation exercises support healthy longevity,” he said. 

“Just 10 minutes of daily meditation not only improves mood, it also boosts cognitive abilities.”

No. 5: Take care of your health

Common chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels increase the risk for cognitive decline, heart disease and shorter life expectancy, Small warned.

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“These illnesses can be treated effectively with medications and healthy lifestyle habits, particularly exercise and a healthy diet,” he said.

Staying up to date with health screenings can also help increase longevity. 

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Some of the most common recommendations include mammograms for breast cancer, colonoscopies for colorectal cancer, skin cancer screenings, sleep health monitoring, cervical cancer screenings, eye exams and prostate checks for men.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews/health.

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