A new study from Harvard claims that you can extend your life by a decade if you follow five healthy habits before the age of 50. This is based on the fact that people who ate a good diet, exercised, stayed at a healthy body, and refrained from drinking and smoking lived a life free of type two diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. But, how can you quantify this? How can we really know what will extend a person’s life? The study could explain.
According to the study from Harvard, a woman who maintained all of these habits by the age of 50 could expect to live to about 84 before succumbing to an illness. This is apparently compared to a woman who followed none of these habits. The study says that a woman who smoked, drank, didn’t exercise, and gained weight from a bad diet would develop one of the three conditions by age 73.
For men, those who didn’t follow these healthy behaviors were likely to develop cancer, cardiovascular disease, or type two diabetes by the time they were 73 years old. The study said they could stave off this deterioration until they reached 81 years old if they followed the habits they described.
Habits & Health
Modern medicine has led to significant increase in lifespan. This does not mean that it is always replicated in the health of the person. Health depends on the person and not everyone is lucky enough to live a long healthy life before age catches up with them. In order to study how habits affect a healthy life, or the “healthspan”, researchers looked at data from two studies that were longitudinal. They involved more than 110,000 people and went back over 34 years.
A good diet was defined by a high score on the Alternate Healthy Eating Index. This diagram says that you should regularly participate in moderate activity at least 30 minutes per day. In addition, a healthy weight was determined by the Body Mass Index (BMI). As far as alcohol goes, moderate intake is up to 175ml of wine per day for women and up to twice that for men.
In addition to diet, exercise, and alcohol intake, lifestyle is pivotal. For example, smoking is another lifestyle issue. It affects not only the overall quality of life expectancy and likelihood of chronic diseases. Despite all this, few studies have looked at how a combination of these factors related to lifestyle and ability to live free of diseases has affected lifespan.
Differences between Men & Women
According to the site MoneyPug, which is known for being a platform for life insurance comparison, Harvard found that men and women who adhered to all five healthy habits had their life expectancy rise from 26 to 38 years and 29 to 43 years respectively with an extra 14 years for women and 12 for men. However, this study is one of the first to show that the majority of this time will be spent in good health.
Women who had low risk lifestyle factors had 10 years and six months longer life expectancy free of the major chronic diseases than women with more risk factors. Men gained seven years free of chronic diseases with zero low risk lifestyle factors. However, if they smoked 15 or more cigarettes a day or had a problem with obesity, they had the lowest proportion of disease-free life and a lower life expectancy.
While this may seem basic—good health leads to long life—it is a breakthrough to be able to quantify how long people will be able to live if they refrain from smoking and alcohol while eating right and exercising regularly. If you can show people how long they could live if they live healthily, there is more of a chance that they will change their habits for the better. Whether you are very unhealthy or simply want to improve your health, looking at the numbers can really get you thinking. With studies like this, we can all really take steps to change ourselves to live happier, healthier lives.