It’s the little things you do that help you live longer. Here are 10 tips to help you get that card from the Queen!

Eat chocolate

The world’s oldest woman, the late Jeanne Calment, who lived to a ripe old 122 years, loved chocolate and ate around 1kg a week. For the lithe Frenchwoman, who cycled until the age of 100 and took up fencing at 85, that may have been Ok, but for most people, that’s way too much and increases the risk of obesity.

However, researchers at Melbourne’s Monash University found that eating a “modest” amount of dark chocolate daily reduced the risk of heart attacks and stroke. While white and milk chocolate do not have the same health benefits, dark chocolate is rick in flavonoids and antioxidents, which have heart-protecting properties.

Description: Eat chocolate

Eat chocolate

Drink green tea

People who drink at least one cup of green tea per day are five times less likely to develop lunf cancer than those who don’t, a study from Taiwan’s Chung Shan Medical University found. It is though the antioxidants in green tea are responsible.

Butt out

“Smoking is still the single biggest preventable cause of death, and giving up is the only way to truly reduce your risk,” says Professor Ian Olver, CEO of the Cancer Council of Australia. “Half of the people who smoke regularly will die of smoking-related disease, and it’s estimated smoking cuts 10 years off your predicted lifespan.”

Get a pet

Having a per not only helps reduce stress and lower blood pressure, but can ease depression and loneliness too – all risk factors for early death from heart disease. Then there’s the health benefit from getting a good workout. Heart Foundation CEO DR. Lyn Roberts says, “For many of us, walking is an easy, convenient way to stay active. And if you have a dog as your partner, that’s a great motivator, because your dog is never too busy for a walk!”

Description: Get a pet

Get a pet

Keep your memory active

When it comes to the old grey matter, it’s definitely a case of use it or lose it. We know smartphones are easy and convenient, but it’s always good to keep your mind ticking over, so try to memorize at least one new phone number a week, learn the lyrics to a new song, or regularly play Scrabble and do crosswords to keep your brain in tip-top shape.

Don’t give up your day job

Dreaming of ditching work for an early retirement? Don’t – because hard yakka is good for us. When people stop working, they often gain weight, lose social connections or find themselves lonely. The high number of centenarians in Italy’s Chianti region has been attributed to the fact that many locals continue working their small farms and stay active well past retirement age.

Get moving lose weight

“Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising are very important for longevity,” says Professor Olver. “Diet is a big cancer driver, with nine per cent of breast cancers, 11 per cent of bowel cancers, 40 per cent of endometrial cancer cases and 37 per cent of esophageal cancers being obesity related. Exercising can also reduce recurrent breast cancer and the risk of getting breast cancer by 30 per cent.”

“Exercise is the only real fountain of youth that exists,” says Jay Olshansky, Peofessor of Medicine and Ageing at Chicago’s University of Illinois, where researchers have found that physical activity adds years to your life. it helps improve your mood, mental acuity, balance, muscle mass and bones.

Heart Foundation national CEO Dr. Lyn Robert says, “Being active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as half.”

Floss daily

Gum disease can damage arteries because bacteria may make their way into the bloodstream and lodge on artery walls, says Dr. Peter Alldritt, chairman of the Australian Dental Association’s Oral Health Committee. “And if your gums are constantly inflamed, your body mounts an immune attack – also a risk factor for health issue, including heart disease,” he adds. “Flossing daily reduces inflammation.” Dr. Alldritt says more than 30 per cent of Australians say they only brush once daily instead of twice and many admit that they never floss.

Description: Floss daily

Floss daily

Be positive have a social life

Stay positive and you may live longer. According to a study from the Mayo Clinic in the US that began back in 1962, optimists had a 19 per cent higher chance of still being alive four decades later than the pessimists. And don’t underestimate the importance of having lots of friends and a healthy social life for your positivity. Friends share your history, motivate you and provide general life support. Studies have found that people with a healthy social life live almost four years longer than loners.

Sleep no more than eight hours

Sleep is good for us, yes… but not too much of it. One study in the Archives of General Psychiatry, US, found that people who get only six to seven hours of sleep nightly live longer. People who sleep more than eight hours or less than four hours had a significantly higher death rate.

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