Study Finds Five Habits Linked to an Additional Decade of Life
A few weeks ago, a report emerged suggesting that even moderate drinking can shorten longevity. Now, new research offers the reverse kind of insight — the behaviors and habits that lengthen life span.
Researchers at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health have identified five healthy habits that, when practiced throughout adulthood, may add more than a decade to life: eating a healthy diet, exercising at least 30 minutes each day, keeping a healthy body weight, not drinking too much alcohol, and not smoking. The study, which examined 34 years of data from 78,865 women and 27 years of data from 44,354 men, found women and men who maintained healthy lifestyles that included these habits were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer when compared with those with the least healthy lifestyles over the course of the roughly 30-year study period.
For study participants who didn’t practice any of these healthy life habits, the researchers estimated that life expectancy at age 50 was 29 more years for women and 25.5 more years for men. But for those who adopted all five low-risk factors, life expectancy at age 50 was projected to be 43.1 further years for women and 37.6 further years for men. In other words, women who maintained all five healthy habits gained, on average, 14 years of life, and men who did so gained 12 years, compared with those who didn’t maintain healthy habits.
The study, published in the journal Circulation, might be drawn from US data, but there’s little reason to doubt its applicability globally. Its findings are of especial importance in India, where non-communicable lifestyle diseases have been rising for the last two decades and are responsible for 61% of deaths.