As mourning continues around the world after Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, some are beginning to wonder if she had a secret to her long life. After 96 years in the spotlight, we know that the queen lived a relatively healthy lifestyle. While not everyone is privy to her resources, engaging in healthy habits can increase your chances of living a longer, healthier life.
“As someone who cares for many people in their 80s, 90s and even 100’s, the patients who are the healthiest are those who are on top of their health and well-being,” says Dr. Kevin Koo, family medicine physician at Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. “They go to doctors’ appointments. They socialize often. They read. They travel. They volunteer. They exercise,” he says.
So what was the queen’s secret to a long life you may ask?
Eating a balanced diet – The queen was known to eat small meals throughout the day which recent studies have shown can increase your energy and improve your metabolism. Her meals included grilled proteins and an abundance of vegetables. But don’t worry, the queen still indulged in some of her favorite foods such as dark chocolate and biscuits. Dr. Koo says that balance and not overindulging in anything are important when it comes to your diet.
Daily social interaction – It’s no surprise that the queen led a busy social schedule. Feeling socially connected has both mental and physical benefits such as improved brain function and decreased feelings of depression.
“Emotional and psychological well-being is something I cannot emphasize more, especially since the pandemic hit the world,” says Dr. Koo. “How we view ourselves will dictate how well we care for ourselves. Never shy away from asking for help. Family, friends, primary care doctors, whomever.”
Although you may not be able to see your friends or family members daily, a phone or video call is a great way to stay socially connected.
Engaging in physical activity – While you may not have castle grounds to wander, walking outside or on a treadmill for at least 150 minutes per week, according to the American Heart Association, can boost your overall health. Swimming was another way the queen stayed active in her earlier years.
Spending time outdoors – She not only enjoyed playing with her many corgis outside of her royal estates, but she also enjoyed horseback riding. Studies have found that being active outside can significantly improve your mental health. Whether you are taking a walk outside, playing soccer with your child or throwing a Frisbee, these activities promote a healthier life.
Finding peace through prayer – Whether you are spiritual or not, research suggests that the act of prayer can help reduce stress and therefore improve mental health. The queen notably referenced the act of prayer in many of her televised messages throughout her reign. You can start the act of prayer by practicing meditation.
Finding an outlet for your passion – The queen dedicated her life to supporting hundreds of charities over her nearly 71-year reign. Whether you volunteer or have a hobby that brings you joy, engaging in those activities can increase your physical activity, increase your social network and even gain new skills.
It’s never too late to make lifestyle changes. In fact, Dr. Koo says, “Weight loss, eating better, exercising, traveling, counseling, etc. can all have immediate benefits, so there is no time than the present to start making changes.”