Healthy Habits for a Longer Life

Many times we are so focused on business and financial strategies that we somehow forget to prioritize our health as we should. Without good health, every other activity gets stagnated or totally derailed. So, as a matter of urgency, there is need for you to pay more attention to your health. Do what you can to keep fit and happy. Remember that a healthy mind lives in a healthy body and without those, you can’t even take sound business decisions and you may not be in a fit state to enjoy the dividends of your hard work.

So in this write up, I want to take a quick look at some of the simple habits that health experts have said would help us stay in top form and live longer, more satisfying lives.


Follow a Healthy Diet and Timetable

Daily, nutritionists come up with tastier ways to present the healthy meals our body needs because obviously, some of the tastiest meals are not so good for us. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and fish are some of the healthy items that should be on your menu. They are high in nutrients and low in calories. They help keep you safe from obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and other things that make you more likely to get organ diseases.

Wellness experts advise that we should just eat to stay alive. Keep your portions moderate and go miserly with the sweets and starch. People of a tribe in Japan were known to be fit and live very long and research discovered the explanation for their longevity in their diet which was mostly made up of vegetables. They also ate very small portions of food per time and never after sunset. You could adapt this lifestyle to suit your schedule and taste buds.

Exercise Regularly

Whatever your body structure is, you need to inculcate exercise or any form of workout into your daily or weekly routine. Exercise helps blood distribution which inherently maintains the organs of the body, including the brain. When there’s adequate distribution of blood in the body, the possibility of having diseases like dementia, high blood pressure, depression and stroke is reduced by 30%. If you’re overweight, you need to combine dieting with regular workouts to slow down the devastating effects of obesity. People who exercise live longer pain-free lives on average than those who don’t. Brisk walking for a minimum of 30 minutes four times a week would be adequate for beginners and much older persons. You owe it to your body to squeeze out time for this.

Make Friends and Stay Happy

Would you have believed that laughing and smiling can help you stay healthy? Well, apparently they can. As you get older, take time to enjoy a little more socializing with good friends. A study showed that 50% of deaths that occur among retirees are not because of diseases but because of the despair that comes from being cut off from their regular social circuit. Take time to make friends – real friends, and commit to both planned and spontaneous activities that allow you to let down your hair and have fun. Health experts again, quote dozens of studies that show a clear link between strong social ties and a longer life. So make the time to cultivate good friendships and keep in touch.

Interestingly enough, happily married couples were also found to live longer than their single counterparts. Here though, the emphasis is on being happily married because the divorced couples are said to live longer than the singles and embittered couples. If happiness and positive energy are so vital for a healthy long life, it should be necessary to embrace them.

Quit Smoking

This is neither a sermon nor mere rhetoric. We know giving up cigarettes can lengthen your life, the cigarette companies themselves feel mandated to state it on their packages. What we know is that the inhalation of smoke and the nicotine in cigarette and likes affect the lungs and can lead to all manners of respiratory diseases. A 50-year British study shows that quitting smoking at age 30 could add an entire decade to one’s life, all things being equal. Of course, smokers always remember a certain old uncle that smoked a lot and still lived till he was 90 years old. For one, you don’t know how long that old uncle would have lived if he was not smoking and you don’t know the quality of life he would have enjoyed if he never smoked a stick. Please pay attention to your own life.

Embrace Sleep and Naps

I am sure that some people would be like, a nap, really? In some parts of the world, a siesta is standard, work culture takes that into consideration, and now there’s scientific evidence that napping may help you live longer. A study showed that those who had a regular snooze were 37% less likely to die from heart disease. Researchers think naps might help your heart by keeping stress hormones down. Well, I can’t say that this will be easy in the business environment and age we operate in but during weekends and the odd vacations, do take a ‘shut-eye’ from time to time.

However, no one is compromising on the night sleep. Wellness experts advise seven to eight hours which is rather huge but a minimum of five hours of total rest daily should keep you refreshed and re-energized.

Drink in Moderation

Health experts say that heart disease is less common in people who drink alcohol in moderation than in people who don’t drink at all. Quite a surprise, you’d say. On the other hand, too much alcohol pads the belly, boosts blood pressure, endangers the liver and kidneys and can cause a host of other health problems. If you drink alcohol, the limit should be one glass a day for women and perhaps two for men. But if you don’t drink, don’t start; there are several other ways to protect your heart!

Get Spiritual

Believing in a God factor does several things for you. It takes some pressure off you. When you believe that there is a supernatural force at work in the world around you, you accept some things as inevitable and therefore reduce your stress. You form part of a community of people who share the same belief as you and they provide a sort of emotional fall-back support. Again, studies say that people who attend religious services tend to live longer than those who don’t. In a 12-year study of people over age 65, those who went for religious events more than once a week had higher levels of a key immune system protein than their peers who didn’t. The third strong benefit of believing in God is that communities of people who share this belief are taught similar values like forgiveness, tolerance, kindness etc and these have ripple effects both on the members and the society in general.

Be Safety Conscious

Take all the safety precautions that are necessary because accidents – domestic, industrial, road, air and sea accidents are the third most common causes of death. Wearing safety gear is an easy way to boost your odds of a long life. Seatbelts, bike helmets, construction helmets, protective goggles all help to reduce fatal accidents. Check out your vehicles before embarking on a journey and maintain industry specifications in construction sites. Be more vigilant. Be proactive. Be security conscious.

Keep a Sense of Purpose

Hobbies and activities that have meaning for you may lengthen your life. Japanese researchers found that men with a strong sense of purpose were less likely to die from stroke, heart disease, or other causes over a 13-year period of study than those who were less sure of themselves. Being clear about what you’re doing and why can also lower your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Be fully engaged and if you are retired and have no need to work, volunteer to help out in Churches, mosques and secretariats of organizations. Get into sports or learn a new skill. Keep busy and active.

Like all habits, you start small but remain consistent till the habits are formed.


Fatherhood with Ibe


My wife and I were returning home from church about noon last Sunday, when I saw Uche, my son, driving into the short driveway of my house. It was one of those rainy gloomy days when even the weather depicted the times. I parked the car, got out, my wife in tow and we joined Uche at the small porch where he stood waiting for us.

“How are you, love?” I asked as we hugged briefly.

“I’m fine, Dad and how are you and Mum?”

“We are both okay,” I replied walking into the sitting room.

“No church today?” I asked as I settled into a seat.

“I was too tired, Dad and frankly with the weather today and my mood, I was not in a state to make the last service at 10am.” He replied.

“Mood? What’s wrong?” I asked, sitting up.

He took a seat facing me and as his mum made to settle on a seat, Uche quickly stopped her. “Mum, no disrespect but I need to have a one on one with Dad.”

“Really? Okay …ooo,” his Mum said good-naturedly. “I have things to do anyway. When you need something from me you will remember to come to me.” She teased.

After a little maternal fuss, she left.

“What is it, son?” I asked, a tad anxious.

“Dad,” Uche cleared his throat and began, “I am really struggling with my business. I am not making sufficient income and since your support allowances stopped, I am really struggling. I don’t need a hand-out. I just need some advice. I know I will make it but sometimes it is frightening.”

I let out a breath.

“I understand. I feel the difficulties of the times.” I replied.

“Worse still, Dad, even your name that usually opened doors with people I thought were your friends doesn’t seem to do the magic anymore. Some of them are unfriendly or outright dismissive.”

I smiled.

“Yes, son! Welcome to the real world. I face that too.”

“You do? But these are people you were so good to.” He said, wonder and distaste evident in his voice.

“It is the price we pay for holding public office in Nigeria. It is a toxic environment.”

I told him of a few experiences I’d had, including when I needed support to go for a surgery just months after leaving office. I told him how I went to a few friends and people I had been very good to and never asked much of and how I got no one really to help.

“Why is Nigeria so bad Dad?”

“It is the toxic nature of our times and the fact that there is a cut throat competition among Nigerian elites. People will rather tell your tales of woe and failure … and enjoy it, because it makes them feel they made it to success and you to failure. It is shortsightedness.”

“What should I do, Dad?” He asked with helpless resignation.

“Be determined and resilient, Uche. Nothing can make you fail when you are determined and focused on success. Drown out the noise and be clear about your goals and processes. For now, let’s look at the short term difficulties and sort those out. And then, let’s look at your long term goals and see how you can refocus on likely success areas. Don’t give up. All of us, even those you see as successful, have their difficulties and struggles. Many times, they do not present the true pictures of their real life and financial position.”

“But I see them showing off their lavish lifestyles on Instagram and blogs like they have no problems.” My son commented.

“Yes, some are more blessed but I have never thought it the right thing to do to flaunt riches in the midst of overall hardship in the society. And again, it is unfair to lead young people on.”

“What do you mean, Dad?” Uche asked.

“Well, some people go on social media and portray this larger than life image and this leaves young people depressed because they are working hard but believe that their efforts are unrewarded. No successful billionaire abroad does that.”

“You are correct, Dad.” He said after a short pause.

“You have to keep your attention on the role models who are quiet, focused and resilient.” I advised. ‘You are the son of a tiger. ODOGWU! Remember? If I have never given up and continue to push at my age, then you should never give up. This set-back is temporary; it will pass.” I concluded, hoping I had eased his pain.

He thanked me, said he would have lunch before going back home and then dropped another bombshell.

“Dad, I may be getting married soon. I plan to ask my girlfriend to marry me.”

I was standing up when I slumped back into my seat.

“Phew!” I exclaimed. That was a bummer!!

“When is this coming up?” I asked, knowing the implication of that on my finances; I had not recovered from his brother’s recent wedding.

Uche burst into laughter..

“Chill, Dad. It is not this year. Don’t collapse on me. We will give you enough time,” he announced and swaggered off jocularly to meet his mother in the kitchen.

Just then the movie – Do Not Die Before Your Time, began streaming on Apple TV. I stretched out on the sofa, took down a glass of water and settled to watch the most apt movie of my day.

 So long!