5 healthy habits that could add a decade to your life

5 healthy habits that could add a decade to your life

According to the study, avoiding smoking, keeping a healthy body-mass index, exercising regularly, not drinking too much alcohol and a healthy diet are all contributors to living longer.

This might seem startling for a country that spends more on health than any other - that is, until it becomes clear, suggest the new study authors, that most of the money goes on developing drugs and treating disease rather than preventing it.

Men and women who had such healthy lives were 82% less likely to die of heart disease and 65% less likely to die of cancer compared with those with the least healthy lifestyles, over the roughly 30 years of the study.

The study, the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of adopting low-risk lifestyle factors on life expectancy in the United States, is published online in the journal, Circulation. Exercise was set at 30 minutes or more moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. "But the surprising thing was how huge the effect was", said Meir Stampfer, a co-author on the study and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

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Bringing all the results together, the researchers produced nationally representative estimates of longer life expectancy linked to each low-risk lifestyle factor, and to all of them combined.

If a person follows those five life habits from the age of 50 onward, as opposed to not following those habits at all, the life of a person can be extended 14 additional years for women and 12.2 additional years for men. Harvard researchers analyzed data with more than 120,000 participants. According to the World Health Organization, life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 76.9 and 81.6 years old for U.S. men and women respectively. 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 population-attributable risk for non-adherence to five low-risk factors was 60.7, 51.7, and 71.7 percent, respectively, for all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular mortality.

The team also found a direct relationship between number of low-risk factors followed and reduced risk of early death, with the highest protection coming from sticking to all five.

"This study underscores the importance of following healthy lifestyle habits for improving longevity in the US population".

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