As we age, we begin to search for the “fountain of youth.” In the United States, life expectancy for men is just 76.4 years, while women live up to 81.2 years. Lifestyle habits are found to affect life expectancy more than genetics, which suggests that the "fountain" is actually made up of healthy eating and exercise.

Previous research has shown the key to boosting longevity relies on habits that improve our well-being and make us feel good. Healthy habits are defined as those that benefit our physical, mental, and emotional health. Although they can be difficult to attain and require us to change our mindset, this year, science has unlocked several secrets to living a long life.

Read: 5 Ways Scientists Think We'll Be Able To Increase Life Expectancy

Be Optimistic

The right attitude and mindset can help us achieve our goal of living longer. A new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found women who were optimistic had a significantly lower risk of dying from several major diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory disease, compared to pessimistic women. The researchers believe the more optimistic we are, the more likely we are to adopt healthier behaviors. They speculate optimistic people are also likely to have better diets; exercise more; and get better sleep. Optimism may directly impact our biological functioning.

Follow Japanese Diet

Japanese people are considered to be very healthy for several reasons: they have the third-highest life expectancy in the world, and they have an obesity rate of just 3.5 percent. Their superior health may be due to a diet filled with plants, fish and vegetables.

In March, a study by researchers at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo found those who followed Japan's recommended dietary guidelines were 15 percent less likely to die of any cause, including cardiovascular disease and stroke compared to those who didn't follow the RD guidelines. Eating certain high-calorie foods can aid weight loss because they can make us feel fuller longer. For example, the Japanese tend to eat a diet high in carbs, such as rice and vegetables, but low in fat.

Eat Cheese

A good, aged cheese could be the secret to a longer life and a faster metabolism. A study in November investigated how the French tend to live long and healthy lives while consuming diets high in saturated fats, also known as the "French Paradox." The French enjoy a low incidence of coronary heart disease and an average life expectancy of 82 years, while consuming up to about 53 pounds of cheese each year.

The researchers believe fermented dairy products such as cheese could contribute to longevity and health via butyric acid. Higher levels of this compound have been linked to reduced obesity and higher metabolism. The higher butyrate levels were linked to a reduction in cholesterol.

Read: Spermidine, Found In Cheese And Semen, May Extend Lifespan Of Humans

Play Racquet Sports

Regularly playing racquet sports like tennis could potentially stave off death. An Oxford University study and researchers in Finland and Australia found people who played racquet sports were the least likely to die over the study period; playing the sport reduced their individual risk by 47 percent compared with people who did not exercise. Swimmers also reduced their chance of death by 28 percent, aerobics fans by 27 percent, and cyclists by 15 percent.

The researchers believe the difference may lie in the social aspect, such as clubs and organized activities outside the game, that sports like tennis and squash engender. Overall, this study suggests any sort of regular physical activity is likely to help us stay healthier and live longer.

Play "Pokémon Go"

Pokémon Go fanatics can rejoice — playing the game can add days to our average life expectancy as long as we keep playing indefinitely. The study, conducted by Microsoft and Stanford University researchers, found playing the game “added a total of 144 billion steps,” collectively to people’s daily step count. That amounts to an extra 192 steps daily per user. If players (aged 15 to 49) continued participating at that rate indefinitely, “this would be associated with 41.4 days of additional life expectancy,” according to the researchers. This is a big “if,” of course.

Read Books

Readers have a "significant survival advantage" over those who don't read books — longer longevity. A study in Social Sciences & Medicine found people who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over the study's 12-year follow- up period than those who read no books. The study found a similar association among those who read newspapers and periodicals, but it was weaker.

“People who report as little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read,” Becca R. Levy, senior author of the study, and a professor of epidemiology at Yale, told the New York Times.

Read: Reading Fiction Encourages Empathy, May Help You Live Longer

Use Facebook

Our offline, and even online relationships can contribute to good health. In November, researchers at the University of California, San Diego found using Facebook increases longevity, but only when it's used to maintain and improve real-life social connections. Facebook users live longer than those who are not online.

In a given year, the average Facebook user is approximately 12 percent less likely to die than someone who does not use the networking site. Users with average or large social networks — that is, in the top 50 to 30 percent — lived longer than those in the lowest 10 percent. This result is in line with previous studies of offline relationships and longevity.

Give Birth Later

Motherhood later in life could increase a woman's chances of living to 90. The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found an association between a woman's age at childbirth and parity, or the number of times a woman has been pregnant, and survival. Women with two to four term pregnancies compared with a single term pregnancy were also more likely to live at least nine decades.

Adopt as many of these eight science-backed tips as you can in 2017 for a longer, healthier life.

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