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The lesser-known keys to longevity

January 23, 2013

Most seniors place a strong emphasis on healthy aging, so the majority of older adults are likely familiar with the hallmarks of longevity such as eating right and getting plenty of exercise. While both are certainly important, there are a number of other factors that come into play, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Getting a good night's sleep, for example, is widely recognized as a healthy activity, but it could offer greater benefits outside of helping seniors feel well rested. In fact, researchers have found that getting enough sleep is tied to lower blood pressure and a strengthened immune system. Not only that, but adults who get less than six hours of sleep a night put themselves at a greater risk for stroke, notes the news source.

A healthy diet plays an important role in longevity as well, and while it's crucial for seniors to eat the right things, what they don't eat is sometimes just as critical. Most significantly, older adults should make a point to avoid having a diet that's high in saturated fats. According to the American Heart Association, food such as beef, poultry with skin, butter, cheese and other dairy products all contain high levels of saturated fats. 

Social engagement also plays a substantial role in longevity, experts say. Adults who have meaningful interactions with their friends and family tend to live longer than those who are more isolated, so it could be especially beneficial for seniors who live in retirement communities to stay as socially active as possible. Some of the most compelling evidence comes from a 2010 study from Brigham Young University that found low levels of social interaction may have the same effect on longevity as obesity or high intake of alcohol.