Life expectancy is the number one factor life insurance companies use to determine premiums. The better your outlook, the less you’ll probably pay for a life insurance policy. In figuring out life expectancy, several things are taken into consideration including your race and family medical history, which you have absolutely no control over, your medical condition, which you can control to some extent, and your behaviors, which you have total control over. This article is about simple steps you can take to change what you can toward a longer, healthier life. Some of them may even help you qualify for cheaper life insurance.
Stats & Data
The current life expectancy in the United States averages out at 79.12.
The age-related annual U.S. death rate per 100,000 people is 741.3.
The top 10 causes of death account for nearly 75% of all deaths, with the top 3 accounting for over 50%. They are:
- Heart disease
- Chronic lower respiratory disease
- Flu & pneumonia
- Kidney disease
The top five causes of accidental death in the U.S. are:
- Car Wrecks - 42,000 per year
- Poisoning - 39,000 per year
- Falls - 25,000 per year
- Fires - 2,700 per year
- Choking - 2,500 per year
Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about what you can do to lessen the odds of meeting the Grim Reaper before you reach or exceed your 79.12 years.
Healthy Habits Make a Big Difference
The best thing you can do to ensure a long life is to pick your parents -- genetics very often trumps a terrible lifestyle, which is why we’re always reading about centenarians who’ve smoked a pack a day and guzzled gin for decades. But in case you drew the short straw in the gene pool, here are some proactive steps you can take.
- Quit smoking, and the sooner the better. According to the British Medical Journal, if you quit by 30 you can enjoy the survival rate of someone who has never smoked. Life insurance companies reward non-smokers.
- Watch what you eat. You know the drill: more fish, whole grains and fresh produce, fewer processed foods. The rules keep changing about saturated fats and salt, but to be on the safe side, cut back on those, too.
- Workout on a regular basis. Walk, row, lift weights, climb stairs push a manual lawn mower or a vacuum cleaner around for 20 minutes. Don’t just sit there, do something. Anything.
- Chill. Stress is a killer. According to the National Stress Institute, it manifests itself as heart disease, gastrointestinal disease, neurological system upsets, skin problems and emotional distress. Take your annual vacation and weekends off, and turn off the smartphone.
- Relate to others. Spend time with friends. Volunteer to help people. There’s scientific proof that socializing can improve your attitude, which has a beneficial effect on your overall wellbeing.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Research shows that having a glass of wine can add five years to your life, while people who drink moderate quantities of beer or other alcohol can gain 2.5 years.
Those are the obvious ones. Here are some you may never have heard before, excerpted from a list compiled by Men’s Health.
- Laugh. Watching a funny video for 15 minutes can improve blood flow by 50%, potentially reducing blood-clot formation, cholesterol deposits and inflammation.
- Call in sick. In a three-year UK study, guys who went to work sick had twice the heart attack risk as those who stayed home.
- Eat chocolate. In a Dutch study, men who ate four grams of cocoa a day had half the risk of death by heart attack than men who ate less than that.
- Sleep on your side. It can cut the number of sleep-apnea wakeups in half. Swiss researchers found sleep apnea interruptions increased the likelihood of being involved in an auto accident by a factor of six.
- Replace your smoke alarm batteries. A study found that a third of all smoke detectors had dead or absent batteries.
- Don’t jaywalk. 77% of pedestrians killed crossing the road weren’t in marked intersections.
- If you’re falling, fall on your butt. Better to bounce downstairs on your derriere than to land on your head.
- Nap. A 30-minute mid-day snooze can reduce coronary fatalities by 37% according to a Greek study.
Also from this list, our two personal favorites:
- Don’t use the toilet in a lightning storm. While all 26 of the people killed by lightning in 2014 were outdoors when it struck, lightning that hits within 60 feet of your home can also run through the plumbing system, according to the National Weather Service.
- Don’t urinate in the ocean. Bodily fluids attract sharks. Although death by shark attack only accounts for about 4.2 per year, consider yourself warned.
 “What are the top 10 leading causes of death in the US?” http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282929.php
 “Top 5 Causes of Accidental Death in the United States,” http://listosaur.com/miscellaneous/top-5-causes-of-accidental-death-in-the-united-states/
 “7 easy ways to add years to your life,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/20/live-longer_n_4261281.html
 “50 Ways to Add Years to Your Life,” http://www.menshealth.com/health/50-ways-add-years-your-life