“Life’s Essential 8” habits can slow biological aging

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Scientists revealed vital habits that could reverse your biological clock and slow aging by six years. Named “Life’s Essential 8,” the study was announced by the American Heart Association this fall, and it shows how, in eight simple steps, you can slow down the inevitable aging process by doing what’s best for your heart. 

Focusing on a healthy heart 

As “heart health goes up, biological aging goes down,” said Nour Makarem, a senior author of the study and an assistant epidemiology professor at Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City. Makarem added, “Reduced biologic aging is not just associated with lower risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, it is also associated with longer life and lower risk of death.”

Life’s Essential 8

The “Life’s Essential 8” checklist resulted from Columbia University research that included 6,500 participants. According to Makarem, the checklist is easy to follow because of all these “factors and behaviors that are modifiable.” Cardiologist Dr. Howard Weintraub added that while the checklist benefits your heart, you will notice how it helps other organs. He explained, “When I tell a 30-year-old patient that their carotid artery looks like that of a 55-year-old, it gets their attention.”

Lifestyle over genetics 

Dr. Annapoorna Kini, a cardiologist, said, “We used to think that heart health was 50% inherited and 50% lifestyle.” However, she suggested that the study gives hope that lifestyle could be more important than inherited traits. Kini believes there needs to be more research, but she is hopeful and called the findings a possible “game changer.” Dr. Joyce Oen-Hsiao added, “A person’s biological age depends on the damage that the body accumulates over time, related to illnesses and lifestyle.” 

The checklist 

Now that you know where to study came from and how positively scientists see it, here are the top 8 habits that could slow down your aging and give you a body up to six years younger. The checklist includes healthy eating, moderate but consistent physical activity, proper sleep, managing weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, quitting smoking, and controlling cholesterol levels. 


A proper diet filled with fiber, lean meats, veggies, and fruits will help regulate sugar levels and help you reduce your weight if needed. Giving your body enough nutrients and avoiding trans fats or fried and sugary foods will help you reset your age while promoting a potentially longer life. 


It is suggested to spend 150 minutes of moderate to advanced aerobic activity weekly. Some recommended activities include swimming, walking, jogging, jumping rope, or dancing. Before starting a new physical activity, you should notify your doctor. Getting your body moving is good for stress relief, weight control, and reducing blood pressure and blood sugar levels. 


A person should get 7 to 9 hours of sound sleep to improve cardiovascular health. Not getting enough sleep can cause mental health issues, higher blood pressure, slower metabolism, and more problems that will age you faster and increase the risks of deadly diseases. 


Smoking, vaping, or using e-cigarettes is destroying your blood vessels and lungs and is among the leading causes of premature death that is preventable. Quitting can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by half within a year. Additionally, AHA suggests cutting alcohol, salt, and added sugars, including sugar substitutes.

Cholesterol and blood sugar 

High cholesterol is responsible for cardiovascular inflammation. Elevated blood sugar levels lead to diabetes 2, as well as damage to the arteries in the heart, brain, eyes, and kidneys. Apart from not skipping regular check-ups, proper diet, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep can help keep your cholesterol and sugar levels under control. 

Blood pressure

If left uncontrolled, blood pressure can cause heart failure, stroke, and heart attacks. Heart diseases are the leading cause of death in the US, followed by cancer. Stroke is also among the top five causes of premature death in US adults. Reducing alcohol and salt intake with a proper diet and exercise can help those with high blood pressure, and your GP can make suggestions regarding additional dietary changes and medications that will help you keep things under control and even reverse your age. 


Nearly 42 percent of all adults in the US suffer from obesity. Some health-related issues could cause weight gain, but in most cases, the problem comes from poor diet and physical inactivity. The American Journal of Medicine recently warned that inactivity indicates a “crisis within a crisis.” 


Essential 8 habits are connected, and apart from promoting a healthy heart and slowing down aging, these changes will leave you with better kidney function, improved bone & muscle health, and blood flow. While making adjustments or changes might be challenging initially, this is an investment into a better, more productive future. 

Kate Smith, a self-proclaimed word nerd who relishes the power of language to inform, entertain, and inspire. Kate's passion for sharing knowledge and sparking meaningful conversations fuels her every word.