New research suggests there are 5 life habits that can prolong a person’s life if they stick to it. 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. The results of the study suggest that following these habits can extend your life by a decade.
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. The study was published in the journal Circulation on Monday. The results of the study show that following these lifestyle habits is associated with a reduced risk of dying from the two largest killers in the U.S., which are cardiovascular disease and cancer.
“These are some of the leading causes of premature death, so by preventing or reducing the incidence of those diseases, it promotes longevity, and it also improves survival after diagnosis of those diseases,” Dr. Meir Stampfer, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and co-author of the study told CNN.
“We can do so much better for having a long healthy life by pretty simple minimal changes in our behavior, and only 8% of adults in our country are adhering to these,” he added. “The main take-home message is that there’s huge gains in health and longevity to be had just by simple changes in our behavior pattern, and as a country, I think we need to make it easier for ourselves to do this by promoting tobacco cessation, by providing better environments for physical activity and so on.”
To prove that the study is valid, researchers were searching for the connection between the five life habits and premature death after acquiring data from the national Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. They used data from 1980 until 2014 which included more than 122,000 people combined.
Also, the team used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to find an estimation of using those lifestyle factors in adults in the U.S. They gathered data from 2013 to 2014 which included 2,128 adults, all aged between 50 and 80 years.
After they completed the data analysis, the team discovered that in 2014 the average life expectancy at age 50 for women was to live 33.3 more years and 29.8 for men. However, the adults who reported that they followed the 5 life habits for prolonging life, the researchers discovered they lived 43.1 more years for women and 37.6 more years for men. The adults who didn’t follow the better lifestyle habits, according to the researchers, lived only 29 additional years among women and 25.5 additional years among men.
“To me, the surprising outcome was how strong it was: what a big impact these simple behaviors could have on life expectancy,” Stampfer said. “I was surprised that it was that pronounced.”
There are some limitations with the study, however. The people who adhered to the 5 life habits were self-reporting, which means that the study results could also come from measurement errors. Also, the data analysis didn’t include some measures which include certain health conditions, which result in shorter life expectancy, including diabetes or high blood pressure.