Lifestyle Choices help live Longer: Harvard scientists at T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted a large-scale study of the effect of health habits on life expectations using information from the well-known Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS).
This means they had data on a large number of people over a very long period. The NHS included more than 78,000 women and followed them from 1980 to 2014. The HPFS included more than 40,000 men and followed them from 1986 to 2014. That’s more than 120,000 participants, 34 years of data for women and data in 28 years for men.
The investigators looked at NHS and HPFS information on diet, physical activity, form weight, smoking, and alcohol consumption collected from regularly administered validated questionnaires.
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What Exactly is a Healthy Lifestyle?
These five areas remained chosen because previous studies have shown that they significantly affect the risk of premature death. Here’s how these healthy habits were defined and measured:
A healthy diet is calculated and scored based on the reported intake of healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids, and unhealthy foods such as red and processed meats sweetened with sugary drinks, trans fats, and sodium.
Stories of immortality and eternal youth have remained passed down between generations for thousands of years. From ancient Greek mythology to contemporary novels and movies, the dream of eternal life has remained documented throughout history.
While the Fountain of Youth still exists only in myth and legend, the possibility of living longer has become a reality thanks to advances in science, medicine, and public health. But contrary to the stories, the key to longevity isn’t a magic potion—it’s healthy habits.
Some research estimates that genetics account for 25% of the variation in an individual’s lifespan, while environmental and lifestyle factors may determine the rest. For example, with similar healthy ways, such as not smoking and keeping a good weight, those who lived to the most extended ages – in their nineties and hundreds – were less likely to develop age-related chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
While aging is inevitable, healthy lifestyle changes can help you age well and add a few extra years to your life. Here are some research-backed ways you can live a longer, healthier life:
1. Get Moving – Lifestyle Choices help live Longer
No wonder exercise is good for the body. But in addition to trusting you are fit and strong, regular physical activity even in small amounts can extend your life. Exercise has remained shown to reduce the risk of age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and some cancers while strengthening your bones and muscles and increasing your lifespan.
Meanwhile, studies link a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise to a greater risk of premature death. The CDC endorses at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, but you’ll still enjoy the benefits of exercise in smaller quantities. For example, one study found that just 15 mins of physical activity a day can add three years to your life. Research has also shown that workouts can slow and opposite aging at the cellular level.
2. Quit Smoking – Lifestyle Choices help live Longer
Smoking is the leading cause of avoidable death in the United States and has remained linked to disease in nearly every body organ. Smokers die almost ten years earlier than non-smokers and have three times the mortality rate. That existence said it’s never too late to quit.
Leaving smoking can add up to 10 years to your life and reduce your risk of having or disappearing from a heart attack, heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and other cancers. And the younger you stop, the better! Quitting before age 40 has been found to reduce the risk of dying from smoking-related diseases by about 90%.
3. Drink in Moderation
Excessive alcohol ingestion can increase the risk of heart disease, liver disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers – all of which can lead to a shorter life expectancy. Rendering to one study, adults who drink 14 to 25 drinks a week can shorten their life expectancy by one to two years, while those who drink more than 25 drinks can shorten their life by four to five years. If you drink, in moderation one drink daily for women and up to 2 glasses for men is key to minimizing these negative health consequences.
Some research proposes that light to moderate drinking (especially wine) may even reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke. On the other hand, research indicates that even average alcohol intake can be harmful, so there’s no reason to start drinking if you haven’t already.
4. Reduce Stress
While stress is an inevitable share of life, increased anxiety and worry can take a significant toll on the body and disrupt almost all of its processes. Research suggests that chronic stress can increase the risk of depression, anxiety disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, inflammation, and obesity and shorten life expectancy.
According to one Finnish study, for example, severe stress shortened the lifespan of both men and women by more than two years. Fortunately, there are several habits to manage stress and protect your mental health, from journaling and yoga to therapy and meditation.
5. Stay Connected
Friendships and relationships are more than expressively fulfilling; they also benefit your physical health! A clinical review of nearly 150 educations found that individuals with strong social networks were, on average, 50% more likely to survive than those with less social support.
Rendering to the study, the health risk of social separation is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is more significant than being obese or inactive. Strong and meaningful relationships can increase happiness and overall life satisfaction, reduce stress, and improve overall health. Even the support of others can be beneficial to your health, so make time for friends and loved ones.
6. Get Enough Sleep
A regular sleep pattern is also essential for your body’s overall functioning. Numerous studies have shown that insufficient sleep is associated with severe health conditions, including hypertension, inflammation, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity all of which contribute to shorter lifespans.
On the other hand, too much snooze can also be insufficient for your health, as it is associated with a greater risk of stroke and heart disease. So to improve your longevity, try to go to bed at the same time every night and aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
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