A recent study suggests that we can increase our lifespan by more than ten years by following these five simple health behaviors: not smoking, maintaining a healthy body-mass index, exercising regularly, not drinking too much alcohol, and eating a healthy diet.

The study found that following five lifestyle choices was associated with 14 additional years of life expectancy for women and 12.2 additional year of life expectancy for men.

The study found that each of those factors is significantly associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the US each year, which is about one in every four deaths.

Approximately 609,640 Americans are projected to die from cancer in 2020, the American Cancer Society reports.

In a nutshell, this is what the study found: According to 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, the leading causes of premature death can be prevented or reduced by improving longevity and survival rates after diagnosis.

“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 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, 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.”

The United States ranks 43rd globally when it comes to life expectancy at birth, with an average life expectancy of 80, according to 2017 data from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.

According to the data, Monaco, Japan and Singapore have the highest life expectancy at birth.

The countries with the lowest life expectancy at birth, according to data, are Chad, Guinea-Bissau, and Afghanistan.

Impact of Behaviors on Longevity

Researchers looked at data from the national Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study to see if there was a correlation between premature death and five lifestyle factors. The data included more than 122,000 people and spanned from 1980 to 2014.

Then, the researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (‘NHANES’) to estimate the distribution of those modifiable lifestyle factors among adults in the United States. The ‘NHANES’ data used was from 2013 to 2014, and consisted of 2,128 adults, 50 to 80 years old.

The researchers also calculated death rates of US adults using the CDC’s Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research database.

In 2014, the overall projected life expectancy at age 50 was 33.3 years for women and 29.8 years for men.

The conclusions drawn from the study were that adults who reported living healthier lifestyles lived, on average, 43.1 more years for women and 37.6 more years for men.

The researchers found that among those adults who reported that they adhered to none of the five healthy lifestyle factors, women lived only 29 additional years, and men only 25.5 additional years.

“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.”

Since this text is discussing the percentage of life expectancy gained from different lifestyle choices, we will paraphrase it by discussing the average amount of time gained for each lifestyle choice. On average, women who adopted five healthy lifestyle choices gained 30.8% more life expectancy from reduced cardiovascular disease death, 21.2% more life expectancy from reduced cancer risk, and 48% more life expectancy from other causes. This means that, on average, these women gained an additional 15 years of life from these lifestyle choices.

Some limitations of the study include that the data on adherence to the five lifestyle factors were all self-reported, making the data vulnerable to measurement errors.

The data analysis did not include measures of certain health conditions that are risk factors for a shorter life expectancy, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

The limitation of the study, Stampfer says, is that it only estimates the prolonging of life expectancy based on behaviors. However, this is also a strength of the study.

It’s better to start these healthy behaviors when you’re younger, but it’s not too late to start them later in life.

The World’s Oldest Populations

The Japanese have the longest life expectancy of any country in the world. In 1980, they took the top spot and have been there ever since. In 1960, their ranking was 35 and 10 in 1970. Japanese longevity is attributed to their diet, excellent Body Mass Index (BMI), and small amounts of alcohol consumed by women over the age of 50.

In Australia, women’s life expectancy is 84.8 years and men’s is 81.0 years, which ranks the country sixth. Between the ages of 40 and 65, Australian men have the first world ranking while women rank sixth or seventh. The main cause of death in Australians is coronary heart disease.

There are regions around the world where a higher proportion of residents reach the age of 100. Studies were done on five different regions, including Sardinia, Greece, Costa Rica, California, and Japan, to find any common factors that may attribute to a longer life expectancy. Results showed that diet, exercise, body weight, social life, and avoiding risk factors like smoking and alcohol all play a role in a person’s longevity.

Tips For Living As Long as Possible

No one wants to live a longer life if it means living a life of poor quality. However, research shows that making small changes to your lifestyle can improve not only the length but also the quality of your life. To live a long and healthy life, consider making these five changes:

Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

In general, being overweight can result in high blood pressure and cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. Your weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) can have a big impact on your overall health. If you are carrying around extra weight, it puts more pressure on your organs, which can lead to health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends people have a Body Mass Index(BMI) between 18.5-24.9 for optimal health. Anything lower than a BMI of 18.5 is underweight, 25-29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI over 30 is obese. The mean BMI has risen in both men and women from 1975-2016. In 2016, 29% of adults in Australia were obese.

People with a high BMI are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cholelithiasis, and other chronic diseases, according to a study from the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). However, being lean and physically active can protect against these diseases.

BMI is not an accurate measure for some individuals because it does not take into account the distribution of fat in the body.

Abdominal fat is the most harmful kind of fat. Subcutaneous fat, which sits beneath the skin, is not as harmful as visceral fat. Visceral fat cells release metabolic products into the bloodstream, which are delivered to the liver. The free fatty acids then accumulate in the heart, pancreas, and other organs. These organs are not designed to store fat, which leads to dysfunction and problems with the regulation of insulin levels, blood sugar, and cholesterol.

To maintain a healthy hip-to-weight ratio, calculate your abdomen size at the navel while standing, measure your hips at the widest point, and divide your waist size by your hip size. You can also use an online calculator. A ratio above 0.8 means you have an increased risk of developing heart disease or diabetes.

Enjoy Regular Physical Exercise Every Day

If you work out, will you live longer? Yes! Exercise helps maintain a healthy BMI, and staying healthy is a great way to improve your odds of living to 90 years or more.

One of the nine common traits of people who live in “Blue Zones” is that they are constantly moving throughout the day without thinking about it. This means that they don’t do excessive exercise, like running marathons, but are always active. They take care of their gardens and work around their houses and yards.

Studies have shown that not only is regular exercise good for the body, but it also improves our mood and decreases feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.

Exercise is important not only for maintaining our muscle and bone health as we age, but also for reducing the likelihood of developing an injury or disability. Regular exercise helps to build bone density and maintain strength, as well as improving insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular fitness, and blood pressure and fat levels.

The Factor That Was Seen as More ‘Powerful’

Dr. Douglas Vaughan, who was not involved in the study, said that the findings should encourage and motivate people to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Even though the study showed that living a healthier lifestyle in general can help you live longer, Vaughan also mentioned that each individual healthy lifestyle choice also decreases your chance of dying early.

“Cigarette smoking appears to have a stronger effect than other lifestyle changes or behaviors. It’s certainly beneficial to maintain a reasonable body-mass index to protect against developing diabetes,” Vaughan said.

Dr. Jack Der-Sarkissian referred to smoking as “the least-debated health risk factor.”

The new study shows that smoking, even just one to 14 cigarettes a day, is associated with increased death due to cancer and heart disease.

The study found that maintaining a BMI below 30 and being physically active for at least 30 minutes a day are both linked to significantly lower risks of developing obesity-related conditions like diabetes and cancer.

In Conclusion

The key to a long life is eating well, exercising regularly, and developing a strong social life. This way, you could find yourself enjoying your 90th birthday and beyond!

 

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About Rhoda ...

Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

She is the creator of the Elegant Eating Solution, an affordable program that helps women avoid weight regain and feel great about themselves, without restrictive eating.

Elegant Eating is based on the science of protein leverage and follows the unique R.E.M.A.P approach to successful aging.

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