DETROIT (WWJ) – Thousands of books have been written on what to eat, how to exercise and even where to work in order to enjoy a healthier, happier life. But the keys to a long, vital life are basic.

The International Council on Active Aging has put together a list of 10 tips to lead a healthier lifestyle, based on recent research. And in most cases, the tips apply to people of all ages.

1. Think positive. Strive for success in all you endeavors, especially those related to your health or fitness program. Negative thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies. And never let your age be a barrier. Research has shown that thinking positively about getting older can lengthen your life by as much as 7.5 years.

2. Turn your spark into a flame. Do you have a passion, talent or hobby that you do well at? Nurture it, grow it, and let that enthusiasm spill over into other areas of life.

3. Keep your motor running. Lacking energy and motivation may result from challenges in your life as simple as losing focus on your goals. If you suspect your lethargy is caused by physical or mental health issues, by all means see a healthcare professional. But don’t underestimate your ability to recharge through lifestyle changes and gain the energy to do the things you love to do when you want to do them. Having energy and motivation are hallmarks of healthy living.

4. Eat a balanced diet. This is the one you knew was coming: a balanced diet and healthy weight are keys to physical and mental health. Instead of the latest fad diet, start with a common-sense approach – eat lots of fruits and vegetables, go easy on the sugar and salt. Cut back on calories if your weight is trending the wrong way. You can do it!

5. Regular Exercise. Staying physically active fuels the body and mind and helps prevent physical and mental decline. If you’re already exercising regularly, keep it up. If you’re just getting started, set realistic goals based on your own fitness level, then move towards them at your own pace. Just walking for as little as 10 minutes, 3 times a day is infinitely better than doing nothing. The key is to be consistent. Get started!

6. Connect with people. Keep your social life active. Go out with friends to see a movie or enjoy a coffee. Even better, do volunteer work on a regular basis. Research shows that people who volunteer have higher levels of well-being and life satisfaction than people who don’t. Volunteering and other kinds of civic and social engagement can contribute to better health.

7. Don’t stay down. Everyone feels down at times, but full-blown depression is a major cause of disability and cannot be ignored. If you’re feeling out of sorts for two weeks or more, talk with your doctor. In many instances, exercising and changing to a healthier diet can help lift you out of the doldrums.

8. Keep learning. Studies show that lifelong learning is good for you. Learning adds a needed dimension to life, whether it involves staying in touch with what is happening in the world or keeping the brain stimulated. The best news is that you can start learning new subjects or physical activities at any age. So why not start today?

9. Invest in you. Shifting your expectations of yourself – then embarking on new behaviors to realize your goals – takes energy and effort. Consider your effort to improve as a small investment in a plan that pays big dividends. The results will be well worth it.

10. Have fun! A healthy life is generally a life filled with joy and laughter. So do what you need to do to kick up your heels and have a good time. Ride a bike, learn a language, take up square dancing. Step outside of your comfort zone if you have to.

Make 2016 the best year ever to be alive!

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