By Sara Novak, Planet Green
It’s no coincidence that healthy living has a direct connection to green living. People that care about the health of the planet often care about eating well, being outside, and avoiding the crap that will shorten their time on this beautiful planet. So it wasn’t a huge surprise that when Prevention Magazine came up with a list of Surprising Signs That You’ll Probably Live Longer, many of them fit right into a green lifestyle.
Signs of Longevity And Their Connection to Living Green!
1. You walk to stay fit.
Fit people–defined as those who walk for about 30 minutes a day–are more likely to live longer than those who walk less, regardless of how much body fat they have, according to a recent study of 2,603 men and women.
Green It: Walking for a purpose
The best way to stay fit is to include walking in your everyday life as a way to get from A to B. Park the car and instead choose to walk to the store or if you use public transportation, walk to the bus or train station. That’s why Europeans are so enviously thin, they walk to get somewhere not just to stay fit. Save fossil fuels and win the battle of the bulge by hitting the pavement.
2. You skip the soda.
Scientists in Boston found that drinking one or more regular or diet colas every day doubles your risk of metabolic syndrome–a cluster of conditions, including high blood pressure, elevated insulin levels, and excess fat around the waist, that increase your chance of heart disease and diabetes. Not to hammer this point too hard, but America is in the midst of an obesity epidemic and soda is nothing but empty calories, or in the case of diet soda, chemically flavored fake stuff.
Green It: Drinking soda is bad for you and the planet
Not only is soda bad for you, it’s bad for the planet considering that cans and plastic bottles are hugely wasteful. Even though they can be recycled, it takes energy to recycle them. It’s best not to use something that you do not need in the first place. Try filtered tap water in a reusable bottle and save the calories for local, organic food.
3. You eat purple foods.
Concord grapes, blueberries, and red wine all have polyphenols–compounds that reduce heart disease risk and may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research. “What’s good for your coronary arteries is also good for your brain’s blood vessels,” says Robert Krikorian, Ph.D., director of the Cognitive Disorders Center at the University of Cincinnati.
Green It: Choosing seasonal and organic
Blueberries come into season depending on where you live in the late summer. If you want to enjoy all those polyphenols make sure that you’re buying the fruit locally. Blueberries can lose much of their nutrients when they travel the average 1,500 miles to get to your table not to mention the fact that they waste tons of fossil fuels to get from A to B. Learn how to preserve seasonal fruits so that you can eat them year round here. And don’t forget to sip on red wine but make sure that you’re getting the most green for your green with wine that goes beyond organic.
4. You were a healthy-weight teen.
Swedish researchers found that among 612 men ages 18 to 20, those whose body mass index (BMI) increased the most during adolescence tended to have the greatest amounts of visceral fat — deep “hidden” fat that surrounds the abdominal organs and is particularly linked to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Green It: Raising a healthy green teen
You can’t control your weight as a teenager (unless you still are one) but you can help your teenager control their weight. The best way to raise a healthy, green adult is to start early. Try to make dinner at home every evening using seasonal, local ingredients and keep the processed junk out of the cabinets. If your teens want junk food to snack on, offer up healthy alternatives like homemade granola bars and homemade organic cookies. This way your teens will know the importance of the ingredients in their foods. Also get your teens in the garden so that they have an understanding about where their food comes from. Kids that grow up picking fresh produce from their garden every night for dinner won’t settle for produce that travels across the country because they know that garden fresh is so much tastier.
5. You skip the red meat.
A few palm-size servings (about 2 1/2 ounces) of beef, pork, or lamb now and then is no big deal, but eating more than 18 ounces of red meat per week ups your risk of colorectal cancer–the third most common type, according to a major report by the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Green It: Understanding red meat’s huge impact on the planet
What a coincidence, eating red meat is also bad news for the planet. Hitting the drive through a few times a week does have a huge impact. On the other hand, were the average American household to avoid red meat and dairy and, instead, consume a vegetarian diet or a diet including some chicken, fish, and eggs, the decline in greenhouse gas emissions would be equal to driving 8,000 fewer miles each. That’s like driving from Miami to Seattle and back. When and if you do eat red meat, opt for grass-fed varieties.
Next: 5 more sure signs of longevity and their connection to being green
6. You drink tons of green and black tea.
Drinking tea is great for your heart. And you really need only one or two cups of tea daily to start doing your heart some good–just make sure it’s a fresh brew. Ready-to-drink teas (the kind you find in the supermarket beverage section) don’t offer the same health benefits.
Green It: Picking tea with minimal impact
The Camellia sinensis plant (which produces black, green, and white teas) comes from countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. So to help negate the distance it travels make sure that you buy organic, fair trade teas and buy them in the loose form if possible. Tea bags are wasteful and unnecessary. (Drinking green tea may also reduce the risk of stomach cancer in women!)
7. You love your friends (who are also healthy).
If your closest friends gain weight, your chance of doing the same could increase by 57 percent, according to a study in the New England of Journal of Medicine. “To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to associate with people who have similar goals,” says Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s lead researcher.
Green It: Surrounding yourself with eco-lovin’ friends
If you’re living a healthy, green life, spread the word. Tell your friends how you like to walk everywhere to stay healthy so that it can become a trend. In South Carolina people tend to use cars when there is absolutely no need. But not me and as a result I make my friends walk with me to restaurants. I get them to go to the farmers’ market with me and we exchange healthy recipes and tips. If your friends are healthy and green it’s a great influence on you as well.
8. You don’t have a housekeeper.
Just by vacuuming, mopping floors, or washing windows for a little more than an hour, the average person can burn about 285 calories, lowering risk of death by 30 percent, according to a study of 302 adults in their 70s and 80s.
Green It: Doing things the green way
This is another built in workout that means you don’t have to waste energy going to a gym. What’s more, you can do things your way. That is using green cleaning supplies instead of toxic chemicals in your house. Check out Annie Bond’s suggestions for making a non-toxic cleaning kit.
9. You have strong legs.
Lower-body strength translates into good balance, flexibility, and endurance. As you get older, those attributes are key to reducing your risk of falls and injuries–particularly hip fractures, which often quickly lead to declining health. Up to 20 percent of hip-fracture patients die within one year because of complications from the trauma according to the International Longevity Center.
Green It: Getting a green leg workout
We all want our bodies to be in the best shape they can possibly be in. People spend hours on treadmills and elliptical machines just trying to tone up their legs, but why use the energy? There are excellent ways to work out the muscles in your legs without using up any extra energy. Here are some of my favorite ways to exercise my legs without having it add to my electricity bill–or the bill of anyone else. Read Elizabeth’s green leg workout.
10. You’re an optimist.
This means that you have a positive outlook on life. Only about 17 percent of Americans are flourishers and the rest are languishers, meaning they don’t feel good about themselves and are pessimists–according to a study in American Psychologist.
Green It: Losing the eco-anxiety
Even though I try and live an eco-friendly life, I try and stay away from a doomsday perspective. Eco-anxiety is a very real affliction and if you have it, read Brian’s tips for reducing eco-anxiety. If your anxiety or depression stems from other factors consider reducing it naturally. Eat lots of depression-fighting foods, and read How to Get Happy Without the Prozac.
Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.