You might be surprised to learn that the key to longevity isn’t the perfect daily routine, the latest diet trend, or a new miracle supplement. Instead, achieving a longer, healthier life can be boiled down to a single habit. And the best part? It’s one that you can incorporate effortlessly into your daily routine. We spoke with experts who share their wisdom on the #1 best daily habit for a longer life. So, if you’re ready to explore the science-backed insights behind this life-transforming habit and how it can become the cornerstone of your quest for longevity, keep reading to learn more. And when you’re done, be sure to check out The Top 10 States That Are Most Likely To Become ‘Blue Zones,’ Study Reveals.
What is the #1 best daily habit for a longer life?
The verdict is in: Regular exercise is your best bet for living a long, fulfilling life. But how much exercise is enough? The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity, aerobic exercise each week. According to a large 2018 study published in Circulation, exercising two to four times beyond these recommended guidelines resulted in a significantly lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Specifically, those who exercise above and beyond the recommendations experienced a 26% to 31% lower risk of all-cause mortality and a 28% to 38% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
“The stimulus from exercise promotes positive adaptations that improve markers for longevity,” Destini Moody, RDN, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and sports dietitian with Garage Gym Reviews, tells ETNT. “The best part about exercise is that the parameters can be adjusted to target specific tissues, body systems, or energy systems, making it an easily adaptable habit to work around fatigue, time constraints, comorbidity, injury, or goals.”
Regular physical activity reduces your chronic disease risk.
“Health markers that can be improved by exercise include blood pressure, grip strength, cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood glucose, resting heart rate, body composition, and hip-to-waist ratio, just to name a few,” says Mike Masi, CPT, a certified personal trainer at Garage Gym Reviews. “These markers either predict risk for heart disease and other comorbidity, or they have a direct correlation with all-cause mortality.”
But don’t just take our word for it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that a consistent exercise routine lowers your risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression and anxiety, dementia, and obesity.
You’ll sleep better and promote longevity if you exercise regularly.
Regular exercise plays a crucial role in sleep quality, which in turn enhances longevity. Quality sleep is an essential component of good health and overall well-being. It impacts everything from cognitive function and appetite to emotional resilience and chronic disease risk. Research shows that, on average, those who exercise for at least 30 minutes daily sleep 15 minutes more than non-exercisers. Additionally, physical activity can help reduce sleep disorders like insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and sleep apnea.
Better sleep improves longevity. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that quality sleep can boost brain performance and mood. Conversely, consistently not getting enough quality sleep raises the risk of several chronic conditions, including stroke, dementia, and heart disease.
“There are many mechanisms by which exercise promotes longevity,” states Moody. “The more immediate adaptations include stress reduction and better sleep quality. Fatigue management plays a crucial role in our lives, and these are by far the metrics that play the biggest role in longevity.”
Socialize your exercise time to add even more years to your life.
A healthy social life and strong relationships are an often overlooked aspect of longevity. A 2024 study found that investing in social relationships helps build trust and community, which can help extend your lifespan. As luck would have it, exercise is a perfect habit for forging strong social bonds. Join a fitness class or workout group, or find an exercise buddy. This approach can help you stay consistent with your fitness goals while increasing your social connectedness for a longer, healthier life.
“In an ideal world, your daily exercise habit should promote socialization, as that contributes to better emotional health and well-being,” says Masi. “Also, try exercising outdoors with sunlight exposure for an extra benefit to sleep and promotion of a consistent and healthy circadian rhythm.”