Everyday behaviors trump genetics regarding healthy longevity

One of our favorite mottos at Forward From 50 is “Aging is inevitable, but growing old is optional.” Now science backs that up, to some degree.

Dr. Gary Small, a memory, brain and aging expert at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey, told Fox News that, for most people, their everyday behavior has greater impact on their longevity than genetics does.

“Even people with a genetic predisposition to developing Alzheimer’s disease can stave off symptoms for years by living a healthy lifestyle,” he explained.

Sitting at the top of his five-point list is simply having a positive outlook.

“Optimists have fewer physical and emotional difficulties, experience less pain, enjoy higher energy levels and are generally happier and calmer in their lives,” said Dr. Small.

Another key factor is expressing gratitude, which is something we have promoted frequently at Forward From 50.

Both of those were ahead of physical activity, which many people may find surprising. When people get moving, the activity elevates endorphins and other chemicals inside the body which improve cellular communication in the brain.

Not surprisingly, a healthy diet works to extend longevity. Eating well simply lowers the risk of heart disease, cancer and other age-related problems, he explained.

“Obesity in mid-life increases the risk for dementia later in life, so portion control protects brain health,” said Dr. Small.

The final key to a longer life rests in meditation and relaxation. Traveling through life at a fast pace actually works to wear down a body much faster. Rest is needed to allow the body to recover from stress and to heal itself, he noted.

More details of Dr. Small’s interview on Fox News can be found on MSN.com.