BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Recent studies indicate that the average Louisiana citizen lives just over 75 years of age.

If you’re thinking that this number seems fairly young, you’re absolutely right.

It’s lower than the life expectancy of the average U.S. citizen, which is 79 years of age.

In fact, both of these statistics are in stark contrast to a number of countries where lifespans are significantly longer. For example, Italy’s life expectancy is nearly 84 years and most people in Japan live until nearly 85 years of age.

These statistics may lead some to wonder if there’s a secret to longevity.

What makes some people live longer than others?

The answer to this question is a gray area filled with varying points of view.

For example, a 2019 symposium at Harvard University presented the theory that longevity is more dependent on genes than on a person’s everyday habits in regards to health and wellness.

On the other end of the spectrum are health experts who feel strongly that our lifestyles and personal choices play a leading role in determining how long we live.

For example, Mark Stibich, PhD authored an article featured in Very Well Health on the subject.

Stibich said, “You may think that your genes determine your longevity, but the truth is genetics account for a maximum of 30 percent of your life expectancy. The rest comes from your behaviors, attitudes, environment, and a little bit of luck.”

So, maybe the truth lies somewhere in the middle of the two contrasting points of view.

A Medline Plus article put it this way, “Longer life spans tend to run in families, which suggests that shared genetics, lifestyle, or both play an important role in determining longevity. The study of longevity genes is a developing science.”

Essentially, we still have a lot to learn.

3 ways to enjoy a healthier, and possibly longer, life

That said, a number of health experts agree that it’s a good idea to implement daily habits that appear to contribute to a more fulfilling and longer life.

As this is the case, three related suggestions are found below.

#1/ Reduce stress with daily naps & regular meetups with good friends

Research suggests that while chronic stress can take decrease a person’s lifespan, finding ways to reduce anxiety can contribute to longevity.

One suggested way to do this is by regularly meeting up with good friends for some fun and laughter, which can help a person live up to 50 percent longer.

Experts also recommend getting plenty of rest by sleeping for about seven hours each night and taking a brief nap during the day.

WebMD says, “One study showed that those who had a regular snooze were 37% less likely to die from heart disease than those who rarely steal a few winks. Researchers think naps might help your heart by keeping stress hormones down.”

#2/ Avoid smoking, overdrinking, and overeating

This may seem like the most basic health and wellness advice ever given, but perhaps we hear it so often that it can be difficult to take seriously.

That said, many physicians agree that smoking, overdrinking, and overeating are detrimental to health.

Healthline says, “Smoking is strongly linked to disease and early death… Heavy alcohol consumption is linked to liver, heart, and pancreatic disease, as well as an overall increased risk of early death… Studies of human populations renowned for longevity also observe links between low calorie intake, an extended lifespan, and a lower likelihood of disease.”

In fact, some researchers suggest considering intermittent fasting as it’s been shown to significantly extend the lives of mice and improve their health in the process.

#3/ Go heavy on the vegetables and exercise

Eating more vegetables and staying active can contribute to a longer life and better health.

Numerous studies link the regular consumption of vegetables to a lower risk of premature death, a reduced risk of cancer, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, depression, and brain deterioration

WebMD says, “People who exercise live longer on average than those who don’t. Regular physical activity lowers your chances of getting 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.”

There are an endless number of suggestions on the subject of what a person can do to live longer.

They range from the odd advice to eat chicken brains and smoke cigars to the more practical advice to “make choices that lead to stronger relationships and better careers.”

In any case, the three suggestions listed above are likely to contribute to a happier, and perhaps even longer, life.