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Dr. Patrick McGrath’s Blog

New Year—New You?

    How to live longer and healthier…

    I love TED talks. They are great to pop on and listen to in the car. Heck, if you have to drive as long as I do, why not get some education along the way. That and Podcasts, and boy are there some good ones out there these days.
    But, one TED talk recently was very interesting, and, I thought it was relevant to the New Year. While most people make resolutions about losing weight or exercising, if you want to live a longer life, you might actually want to resolve to make more friends. Susan Pinker’s TED talk is amazing. Turns out that socially isolating may be worse than not exercising. She sites Julianne Holt-Lunstad’s work on longevity. It is amazing stuff.

    The top three things that predict you living a longer life are quitting smoking, having close relationships, and social integration. Let’s run through those a bit.

    Quit smoking. Smoking is just a horrible habit that kills you slowly, makes you smell awful, gives you disgusting breath, and costs a lot of money. So, just stop smoking.

    Keep those who are close to you close to you. Your close relationships are a bedrock to you for health and for emergencies. These are the shoulders to cry on, the people who will lend you a few bucks when you need it, and those who will take care of you when you are ill. Stay close.

    Social Integration. Turns out, just talking to people throughout the day is an amazing predictor of living longer. So, next time you are in line in the grocery store, talk to the clerk. Instead of texting someone, go and visit them. When you are at a store, get off your phone and smile and say hi to people in the aisles. Make being social a part of your day, and it will pay off in the long run, literally.

    Focus on these three areas and you will greatly increase your chance of living longer. To be physically healthier in all that extra time, be sure to exercise, eat well, decrease your alcohol intake, and get your flu vaccine.
    Try this out and move toward your goal of living a longer and healthier life.