Six key indicators of the optimal health status that promotes longevity:

• Blood pressure of less than 120 mmHg systolic and less than 80 mmHg diastolic
• BMI (a measurement of height-to-weight ratio) of less than 27 or, better, a waist-to-height ratio of 0.40 to 0.55
• LDL cholesterol (a risk factor for heart disease) of less than 70 mg/dL
• Fasting blood sugar (associated with diabetes) of less than 106 mg/dL
• Urine free of cotinine (an indicator of tobacco use)
• Completion of a stress management program

They use technology. The marketplace is full of all kinds of trackers that provide real-time feedback about our health choices. You can track steps, minutes of activity, heart rate, calories, sleep quality, and much more. While not everyone needs or likes these aids, technology can provide an excellent form of motivation by establishing benchmarks and goals. And it can help you try to reach those goals, especially when combined with the encouragement of a coach. The human touch is key to making the technology meaningful and the changes sustained.

They leverage financial incentives. It’s a basic human reaction: Significant financial incentives have always been a driver of behavior change. Much of the burden of establishing those incentives comes down to how our government and industries reward employees who stay or get healthy. You can improve your financial situation with better health, starting with lower medical costs, higher work productivity, a longer career, and less worry about the impacts of pandemic diseases too.

They have a buddy, or several. You need a built-in ecosystem with your own tribe—a community of people who support one another in pursuit of their goals. It can come in many forms: one person, a small group of people, or a large tribe with lots of people pursuing the same goals. Many of us may experience some combination of those supporters during the evolution of a wellness journey. Having a partner (or partners) in your pursuit of behavior change is the variable that most predicts success.

They do the little things that matter. Going into a hip replacement at age 59 and again at 64, co-author Peter Linneman was fit, did physical therapy before the surgery, and actively stuck with it after surgery; as a result, he was able to quickly and fully recover. Peter’s physical therapist noted that the scenario for most patients is to go into the surgery weak and ignore the post-op therapy. They blow it off, perhaps thinking it’s really not that important. This is the way a lot of us think about health: Why bother with the little things? Will they really matter that much? Yes! Every little decision adds up, and even more as you live longer.

Science is about to offer you the Garden of Eden. A chance not just at prolonged life but at prolonged youth—or rather, and even better, prolonged youthful years.

But taking advantage of it will be up to you.

Michael Roizen, M.D., is the chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic, a professor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, and author of four number one New York Times best-selling books.

This story appears in the October 2022 issue of National Geographic magazine.