Our life expectancy rate has been cut short to just around 79.3 years due to our unhealthy habits. Fortunately, a surprising strategy to live a little bit longer can be found in simple but powerful lifestyle changes.
A comprehensive analysis of the differences a person’s lifestyle has on his or her life expectancy was conducted by researchers from Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health. For 34 years they have gathered data from 78,865 women and 27 years of data from 44,354 men. Researchers have checked the important effects of maintaining these five habits such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a low body mass index, drinking alcohol in moderation, not smoking, and getting enough physical activity.
Participants who practiced a low-risk lifestyle appeared to live 10 years longer on average than those who did not. Results showed that men who followed a low-risk lifestyle had a life expectancy at age 50 of 37.6 years. Similarly, women who chose to live cleaner had a life expectancy at age 50 of 43.1 years. This means men who lived healthier gained 12 years of life, while women lived 14 years longer.
Results of the study also proved that people who have healthy lifestyle habits are 74% less likely to die during the period of the study. Furthermore, the possible development of cardiovascular diseases for both men and women are decreased by adopting these five healthy habits. Aside from this, dying from cancer is also less likely to happen.
Dr. Meir Stamfer, the co-author of the study said:
“The main take-home message is that there are huge gains in health and longevity to be had just by simple changes in our behavior pattern. As a country, everyone has to contribute to this by promoting tobacco cessation and helping make the environment a better place for physical activities.”
However, when it comes to measurable values, Stampfer admitted that the study had a few limitations which may show disparity or errors. One of these limitations was the failure to include data on some health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure which can affect the life expectancy of a person.
Yet, Dr. Stamfer explained that the limitation is ‘both a strength and a limitation,’ since the objective of the study was to identify longevity based on behavior.
Which Factor Is More Powerful Among The List?
Dr. Douglas Vaughan, chairman of the department of medicine in Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said that among the five habits, smoking seemed to have bigger as well as powerful effects to the body compared to others factors. Maintaining a low body mass index (BMI) is also important.
Likewise, Dr. Jack Der-Sarkissian of Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center also saw smoking as the top factor that affects lifestyle change. He said:
“Beyond cancer risk, smoking contributes to lung disease, heart disease and diabetes. The study shows that even minimal smoking — from one to 14 cigarettes a day — is associated with increased death due to cancer and heart disease.”