Secrets to a longer, healthier life: Study reveals key lifestyle choices

Who wouldn’t want to live a longer, healthier life?

A recent study involving over 700,000 US veterans might have uncovered the secret to achieving that. The research reveals that adopting eight healthy lifestyle habits by middle age can significantly increase your life expectancy and overall wellbeing.

You might be thinking, “What’s so different about this list of healthy habits?” Indeed, it includes some familiar recommendations, but what makes this study special is the sheer size of the data set, allowing researchers to put some impressive numbers behind these pillars of longevity.

What magical eight habits can grant you more life in your years and more years in your life? Here they are:

  1. Stay physically active: Regular exercise and an active lifestyle are crucial for maintaining good health and vitality.
  2. Say no to opioids: Steer clear of opioid addiction, as it can have a significant negative impact on your lifespan.
  3. Kick the smoking habit: Smoking is a well-known health hazard that can shorten life expectancy.
  4. Manage stress: Excessive stress can negatively impact your physical and mental health, so finding healthy ways to cope with it is essential.
  5. Embrace a good diet: A well-balanced and nutritious diet promotes longevity.
  6. Limit binge drinking: Excessive alcohol consumption can harm your health, so moderation is key.
  7. Prioritize quality sleep: Good sleep hygiene is essential for restoring your body and mind, helping you lead a healthier life.
  8. Nurture positive social relationships: Maintaining meaningful connections with others can positively impact your overall well-being.

Now, on to the exciting part: the numbers! According to the study results, men who adopt all eight healthy lifestyle factors at age 40 can expect to live 24 years longer than men without these habits [1].

For women, having all eight healthy lifestyle factors in middle age was associated with a predicted 21 additional years of life compared to those with none of these habits [1]. As presented in NUTRITION 2023, the flagship annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, Xuan-Mai T Nguyen, one of the researchers, emphasized the significance of adopting healthy habits for public health and personal well-being. She noted that even making small changes in your lifestyle during your 40s, 50s, or 60s can still be beneficial [2].

The data used for the study came from medical records and questionnaires collected from a large, nationally representative study of US veterans called the Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program. The results showed that low physical activity, opioid use and smoking substantially impacted lifespan. At the same time, stress, binge drinking, poor diet, poor sleep hygiene and lack of positive social relationships also contributed to the risk of premature death.

The study underscores the crucial role of lifestyle factors in preventing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which are significant contributors to early disability and death. By adopting healthier habits, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of such conditions and extend their life expectancy.

The best part is that age is not a barrier to benefiting from these lifestyle changes. The study found that the estimated gain in life expectancy from adopting these eight healthy habits remained significant even with age, meaning it’s never too late to start improving your lifestyle and reaping the rewards of a longer, healthier life.

Though this study is observational and doesn’t definitively prove causality, it aligns with a growing body of research supporting the role of lifestyle factors in preventing chronic diseases and promoting healthy aging.

So, whether you’re in your 20s or 60s, it’s always possible to embrace a healthy lifestyle and unlock the potential for a more vibrant and fulfilling life. Start adopting these eight healthy habits and you’ll be on your way to a longer, healthier and happier journey. Cheers to a brighter future!

[1] https://www.dropbox.com/s/fge6k1m3sgl3gpd/Nguyen%20abstract.docx?dl=0
[2] https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/995553

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