Being as I am, in the Moses years of life (“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” ) I thought it appropriate to share with y’all part of my own secret to longevity, which really is not outrageously restrictive by any means. It is simply attempting to live life as close as possible to how God prescribed it to be.

True enough, having been raised since childhood into the benefits of regular exercise, and having been blessed to play junior and professional soccer (“football”, let’s admit it!) for some 30 years of my life, I must admit that the discipline and regimens of that experience still reside today very deeply in my psyche. I still only eat one meal a day, usually at twilight after my daily activities have been put to bed, so to speak. I still diligently drink eight bottles of water (laced with lemon juice) per day. Walk at least a mile twice per day (morning after my early posts; afternoon following my late posts), and try to get in bed for a good night’s sleep of at least 9 hours, by 9-10PM each day, rising without fail, at anywhere between 6:15-6:45 AM.

This discipline has been with me for the better part of the past 40 years since I retired from soccer and went into the entrepreneurial world of sales and self-employment, and is not, by any means, a “de rigueur” regimen that needs to be forced upon your daily lifestyle. It is simply, for the most part, a list of commonsense life attributes that collectively contribute to your very health and well-being. Not all 19 “secrets” need to be advanced, but I remain convinced that whatever number you decide might be best for you, you will not be disappointed in them. Collectively however, they provide the most complete and satisfying solution to very truly living life to the fullest, and doing it God’s way.

Let’s go then…

Telomeres, from the Greek telos (end) and meros (part), are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. They are an essential part of human cells that affect how our cells age.

As we age, the ends of our chromosomes — called telomeres — become shorter.


Just as shoelaces without the plastic caps become frayed until they can no longer do their job, without telomeres, DNA strands become damaged and our cells can’t do their job.

Long-lived people have longer telomeres. But the condition of our telomeres is also related to our health: Frayed or shortened telomeres make us more likely to get sick.

The good news is that lifestyle changes not only can protect telomeres but actually boost an enzyme that increases the length of your telomeres. In other words, healthy habits are good for us because they slow aging at the cellular level.

Here are 19 healthy habits to acquire and keep for a longer, healthy life (Source: WebMD, except where noted by embedded links):

1. Be conscientious: An 80-year study found that people who are conscientious — who pay attention to detail, think things through, and try to do what’s right — live longer. They do more things to protect their health and make choices that lead to stronger relationships and better careers.

2. Make friends: Here’s one more reason to be grateful for your friends — they might help you live longer. Australian researchers found that elderly folks who are social were less likely to die over a 10-year period compared to people with the fewest friends. A look at results from 148 more studies shows a clear link between social ties and a long life.

3. Choose your friends wisely: Your friends’ habits rub off on you, so look for buddies with healthy lifestyles. Your chances of becoming obese go up if you have an overweight friend. Smoking also spreads through social ties, but the good news is that quitting is also contagious.

4. Don’t smoke, and if you do, quit: It’s no secret that giving up cigarettes can lengthen your days, but the amount of extra time may surprise you. A 50-year British study shows that quitting at age 30 could increase your lifespan by an entire decade. Kicking the habit at age 40, 50, or 60 can add 9, 6, or 3 years to your life, respectively. As for yours truly, I quit “cold turkey” back in September of 1977, much to the chagrin of all my mates!

5. Take naps: A study that involved 24,000 people suggests those who have a regular nap during the day are 37% less likely to die from heart disease than those who rarely nap. Researchers think naps might help your heart by keeping stress hormones down. Naps don’t have to be long: just 15 minutes will do.

Mediterranean diet

6. Eat a Mediterranean diet: It’s now well known that the Mediterranean diet — rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and fish — is really good for us. An analysis of 50 studies involving more than half a million people confirms the benefits. The diet reduces your risk of metabolic syndrome — a mix of obesity, high blood sugar, increased blood pressure, and other factors that make you more likely to get heart disease and diabetes.

7. Eat like Okinawans: The people of the island of Okinawa, Japan, once lived longer than any other group on Earth. The region’s traditional diet, which is high in green and yellow vegetables, and low in calories gets the credit. Plus, some Okinawans made a habit of eating only 80% of the food on their plate. Younger generations have dropped the old ways and aren’t living as long as their ancestors.

8. Live like 7th Day Adventists: Although this likely applies to all faithful Christian followers, Seventh Day Adventists live an average of 10 years longer than most Americans. Researchers credit their long life to Adventists’ belief in respecting the human body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. That means no alcohol, no tobacco, and following a plant-based diet. 89-year-old Belgrove Josiah, who lives in Linda Valley Villa, a retirement home in Loma Linda, CA, for people who are able to care for themselves, explained, “In Christianity we have the Holy Scriptures, what God said from the beginning we should eat. He gave us the nuts and the grains and the herbs that He placed in the earth. And he said you will do better if you subsist on that type of thing.” Dr. Larry Beeson, an epidemiologist at Loma Linda University who has been involved in researching the health of Seventh Day Adventists for the last 50 years, said, ”The more flesh-foods you eat, the more Alzheimer’s, the more heart disease, the more cancer, the earlier the death occurs. So as people move more toward meat consumption there tends to be more of the adverse health outcomes. Whereas going the other direction, as people move toward removing flesh foods from the diet, there tends to be a delay in the onset of the diseases.” (CBN News)

9. Get married: Married people tend to outlive their single friends. Researchers say it’s due to the social and economic support that being married provides. Even people who are divorced or widowed have lower death rates than those who’ve never tied the knot.

10. Lose that weight: The U.S. is the most obese population in the world, with the fattest kids, according to the latest report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. If you’re overweight, slimming down can protect against diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions that take years off your life. Belly fat especially is bad for you. A 5-year study of Hispanics and Blacks suggests eating more fiber and exercising regularly are great ways to whittle that spare tire.

11. Exercise: The evidence is clear — people who exercise live longer on average than those who don’t. Dozens of studies show that regular physical activity lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and depression. It may even help you stay mentally sharp into old age. Ten-minute spurts are fine, as long as they add up to about 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week. Exercise doesn’t mean you have to run or go to the gym. Any physical activity will do, including house work and gardening. If you have a sedentary job, make sure you punctuate your day by periodically standing up and walk around a bit. Which is exactly why I take at least a mile walk around the lake or the neighborhood twice a day.

12. Alcohol in moderation: Heart disease is less common in moderate drinkers than in people who don’t drink at all. On the other hand, too much alcohol pads the belly, boosts blood pressure, and can cause a host of other health problems. If you drink alcohol, the limit should be one drink a day for women and one or two for men. But if you don’t drink, don’t start. There are better ways to protect your heart. My beverage of choice is a mellow Merlot, particularly with meals, since it is a good digestive. Paul advised Timothy to do the same “for his stomach’s sake” (I Timothy 5:23). I quit drinking beer some 15 years ago since it put too much “burp!” into the belly!

13. Go to church: Often, people tell me, “I’m spiritual and religious, but I don’t go to church.” It does matter whether you go to church! Studies found that people who regularly attend religious services tend to live longer than those who don’t. In a 12-year study of people over age 65, those who went more than once a week had higher levels of a key immune system protein than their peers who didn’t. Researchers think the strong social network that develops among people who worship together may contribute to your overall health. Even if happenstance prevents you from physically getting to church, go online to the live feed – you can be blessed just as much as you would be by being there. It’s the soul food you need!

14. Forgive: Letting go of grudges has surprising physical health benefits. Chronic anger is linked to decreased lung function, heart disease, stroke, and other ailments. Forgiveness will reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and help you breathe more easily. These benefits tend to increase as you get older.

15. Use safety gear: Accidents are the 5th most common cause of death in the U.S., and the top cause of death for people ages 1 to 24. Wearing safety gear is a simple way to boost your odds of a long life. I’m still incredulous that there are people who don’t strap on their seatbelts in cars. Seatbelts reduce the chances of death or serious injury in a car wreck by 50%. Most deaths from bike accidents are caused by head injuries, so always wear a helmet.

16. Make sleep a priority: Getting enough good quality sleep can lower your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and mood disorders. It’ll also help you recover from illness faster. Burning the midnight oil, on the other hand, is bad for you. Snooze for less than 5 hours a night and you might boost your chances of dying early, so make sleep a priority. For more, see “Sleepless in America: Health dangers of less than 8 hr/night sleep“.

17. Manage stress: You’ll never completely avoid stress, but you can learn good ways to control it. Exercise, deep breathing, praying and meditation all lower stress. First thing in my own mind when I feel under stress or some level of anger coming on, is to pick up the Bible and begin reading it – from ANY chapter you open. God will instantly give you the peace that passeth all understanding!

boy holds cat on swing

18. Get a pet: Countless studies have shown that pets (dogs, cats, birds) are good for us. According to the CDC, pets can decrease our blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and feelings of loneliness. Having a dog increases our opportunities for physical and outdoor activities (if you walk your dog, instead of hiring a dog-walker). Stroking or touching your dog or cat or just talking to them releases feel-good endorphins in you, reduces your heart rate, and lowers your blood pressure, which means pets are great stress relievers!

19. Have a sense of purpose: Having a job, a hobby, or an avocation that has meaning for you may lengthen your life. Japanese researchers found men with a strong sense of purpose were less likely to die from stroke, heart disease, or other causes over a 13-year period compared to those who were less sure of themselves. Being clear about what and why you’re doing something can also lower your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease. In “retirement,” I find myself working harder than ever with my writing, with an even stronger sense of purpose than I once had either as a sportsman or as a businessman. Plus, going out of my way to help other senior citizens in their needs and requirements. It really doesn’t take much to help people in their time of need without them having to submit to the end of life in an old folks home.

Endnote: During these past 40 years there are two other aids that have kept me active and thriving through my various activities, and that is a regular dose of 400mg of Echinacea capsules and 450mg of Saw Palmetto, which are essential aids in supporting the human immune system against many and varied debilitating illnesses. My routine is (and always has been) one week on 2 Echinacea 400mg/1 Saw Palmetto 450mg daily .. the next week on NO Echinacea and 2 Saw Palmetto daily. The reason is that too much Echinacea taken without a break will overtake and shutdown the body’s immune system, whereas bringing it on in regular intervals strengthens the system immeasurably.

So there you are, the secrets to a longer and healthier life, brought to you by one of God’s own. Without Him we are nothing; together, we are everything He desires us to be. May you all have a long, successful and healthy life ahead of you.


H/T Dr. Eowyn and his Fellowship of the Minds…

Face of Jesus by Richard Hook

Soli Deo Gloria!