People who stick to five healthy habits in adulthood may add more than a decade to their lives. Compared with people who adopted none, men and women who adhered to all five saw their life expectancy rise an extra 12 years for men and 14 for women.
A major study conducted by researchers at Harvard University evaluated the medical records and lifestyle questionnaires of 123,000 volunteers. Their goal was to analyze certain aspects of their health (for example diet, exercise regime, smoking status) and draw conclusions about their life expectancy based on these factors.
“When we embarked on this study, I thought, of course, that people who adopted these habits would live longer. But the surprising thing was how huge the effect was,” stated Mike Stampfer, a co-author on the study and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
One of the main motivators for researchers to undertake this study is revealing why the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other nation (as a proportion of GDP), yet still only ranks 31st globally for life expectancy. The main factor to point the finger at is that only 8% of the population evaluated followed all 5 healthy life habits, which are:
- Having at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day
- Not smoking
- Having a BMI between 18.5 and 25
- Having a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while limiting sugar, saturated fats and red meat
- And consuming no more than one 150ml glass of wine for women, or two for men
Although these habits are not shortcuts to a long-life, following them will help you improve your fitness and live happier. It is never too late to make changes that will help you reap long-term benefits.
To read the full study breakdown, click here.
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