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Health Watch: 50 Ways To Live Longer

BOSTON (CBS) -- Eat right, exercise and don't smoke. We all know the basic rules for staying healthy, but there a number of unexpected things you can do to help you live longer.

Starting with picking up a book: Studies have shown reading can dramatically reduce stress and research out of Yale University says those who read 3.5 hours per week have a lower mortality rate.

Get a Pet: Researchers have found pets, and dogs in particular, can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and give you a better chance of surviving a heart attack. This was not a surprise to the people we talked to at a Newton dog park. "It makes you, even if you don't want to, get outside numerous times a day, so you're getting exercise," one woman told WBZ-TV.

Have Sex: The British Medical Journal reports men who have sex three times a week have 50-percent fewer heart attacks.

Get Married: "Patients who are married, stay married and actually have a survival advantage," explained internist Dr. Marc Itskowitz.

Laugh: Studies show laughter really is the best medicine, reducing stress and boosting the immune system.

Eat Fish: "If you want to live a longer life, go fishing," explained Boston University Professor of Nutrition, Joan Salge Blake. Research shows eating fish twice a week can help fight heart disease, the number one cause of death in America.

Potassium: According to Salge-Blake, you might want to pair that fish with potatoes or dairy. "Those are your potassium powerhouses," she said. Research shows potassium can keep blood pressure low to protect your heart and help to avoid strokes.

Don't Skip Vacation: The Framingham Heart Study showed women who took fewer vacations were more likely to develop heart disease.

Drink Coffee: Studies have shown coffee can reduce your risk of stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. But those fancy coffee drinks can pack on added sugar which will erase any of those health benefits.

Go to Church: Research shows attending services once a week adds between four and fourteen years to your life.

Throw out the Throw Rug: As we get older, those small rugs are responsible for thousands of emergency room visits a year.

Be Social: Numerous studies have shown strong relationships with friends and family can cut your risk of dying by 50-percent.

See a Female Doctor: A Harvard study shows hospital patients with doctors who are women are more likely to survive. Mass General Doctor Elizabeth Roth says all doctors care about their patients but women might have a bit of a different approach. "I think we are really good listeners and I think we spend a lot of time with our patients," she said.

The full list:

  1. Read a Book -
  2. Get a Pet -
  3. Have Sex -
  4. Get Married -
  5. Laugh -
  6. Eat Fish -
  7. Potassium -
  8. Take a Vacation -
  9. Drink Coffee -
  10. Or Tea -
  11. Go to Church -
  12. Throw rugs -
  13. Female Doctors -
  14. Eat Nuts -
  15. Go to College -
  16. Be optimistic -
  17. Go for a jog -
  18. Increase Vitamin D -
  19. Eat Spicy Foods -
  20. Take care of Grandchildren -
  21. Embrace Social Media -
  22. Take Ibuprofen for your headache -
  23. Skip the Soda -
  24. Ride Bike to Work -
  25. Have Good Personal Relationships -
  26. Be Grateful -
  27. Don't Worry about Big Thighs -
  28. Life Weights -
  29. Don't Retire at 65 -
  30. Don't Worry About those Five Extra Pounds -
  31. Get a Hobby -
  32. Play Tennis -
  33. Live in a Leafy Neighborhood -
  34. Don't smoke -
  35. Get out of Your Chair -
  36. Have Fit Friends -
  37. Skip the Processed Meat -
  38. Be Mindful -
  39. Help Others -
  40. Don't be a Helicopter parent -
  41. Have Children -
  42. Avoid the Overnight Shift -
  43. Don't Hold in Your Anger -
  44. Be Forgiving -
  45. Find a Work/Life Balance -
  46. Go Ahead and Cry -
  47. Love your Job -
  48. Don't Worry -
  49. Get a Good Night's Sleep -
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