My friends want to live forever (Photo: iStock)

Hi Chris,

All my friends are health freaks, obviously aiming to live forever! But they mostly just seem to be following the latest fads. Is there a recipe for a long and happy life?

Long Life

Hi Long Life! 

You already know that you should avoid smoking, drink moderately, manage your weight, eat more fruit and vegetables and minimise stress. But what else should you do?

You should get married. Being single might seem fun, but delaying marriage will shorten your life significantly.


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The benefits come from being in a long-term committed relationship with an intimate partner. No one really knows why, but it affects both men and women and is probably due to the way faithful couples look after one another. Sex also makes a huge difference.

Your mortality rate can be as much as 50 per cent higher when you’re going through a prolonged flat spot! The health risks associated with being single are greatest when you’re younger. A lousy marriage is also bad for you, of course, as are divorce and bereavement.

Especially if they lead to isolation. Because loneliness is a real killer, especially as you get older. This probably explains why the happily married generally outlive singles, even when they have a poor lifestyle.

Avoid eating too much, especially junk food. Avoid sleeping too little or too much. Everyone seems to have a sleep ‘sweet spot’ which maximises longevity. Unemployment, getting on badly with your work colleagues, and having few friends all adversely affect your life span.

As will driving while tired or intoxicated, and not wearing your seatbelt. Commutes of an hour or more also reduce lifespans, especially for women. No one knows why women are affected more than men, but a higher risk of divorce may be part of the reason.

Being a coach potato shortens your life expectancy, as does sitting more than three hours a day. Even the smallest amount of exercise will help. So the take-home on all this? Drive carefully, marry early, to the right spouse, and have lots of sex!

All the best,