It probably won’t surprise you to hear that your behaviors can influence not only your health, but also your longevity. We’ve known these things for years, and they are no secret. However, it might surprise you to learn just how much your choices can affect your health, and how much longer you could live if you make the right ones.
New research published in the journal, Circulation, uncovered the five most important lifestyle factors that lead to good health. These anti-aging strategies have long been touted by experts, but now the evidence is more clear than ever. After following 125,000 individuals who participated in the Nurses Health Study, Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study between 1980 and 2014, we now know exactly how much various choices will impact your health and longevity.
When assessed at age 50, those who did not adopt any of the following five healthy habits lived an average of 25.5 years (for men) or 29 years (for women). Those who adopted all of the following lifestyle changes, or were already pursuing them, lived another 37.6 (for men) or 43.1 (for women) years. So, as you can see, a healthy lifestyle can add 12 to 14 years to your life.
For each of these five habits participants adopted, about 2-3 years was added to their lifespan.
Healthy diet. Aim for a diet heavy in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. Studies have linked exercise to a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, plus many other serious conditions.
Avoid excess alcohol. You might have read that a moderate amount of alcohol intake has been linked to lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. But the key word here is “moderate”. A small amount might be acceptable or even helpful, depending upon whom you ask, but more than 100 grams per week will lower your life expectancy.
Don’t smoke. Smoking might be worst habit you can pursue, as far as this list is concerned. A long-term smoking habit cuts an average of ten years off your life, but quitting can give you back some of that lost time.
Maintaining a healthy body weight. Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and many other serious conditions. If you’re concerned about your weight with regard to your health (or just want to look and feel more confident) give us a call. We specialize in helping our patients lose weight under medical supervision, the safe and effective way.