Want to get healthier, and live for longer? Most people do. According to a new study from Harvard University, you can live 10 years longer simply by following basic healthy habits we all already know about. While it has been difficult to quantify up until now, this study puts numbers to healthy habits and the results are stunning. Research was done by looking at diet, exercise, body weight, smoking, and drinking. These habits were then juxtaposed with three diseases: diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. While these diseases are not the only causes of death, they are ailments that have a significant impact on your health.
Lifespan of Women
According to the site MoneyPug, which is used to compare life insurance, he study showed that women who maintained these five habits could live up to 84 years old if they adapted them by 50. Those who followed healthy habits mostly didn’t succumb to a disease before age 84 compared to women who followed none of these habits. By contrast, these women would develop at least one of the three diseases by the time they were 73. Furthermore, following these recommendations extended their lives by 14 years, raising their life expectancy at 50 from 29 to 43 years. Women with low risk lifestyle factors had a ten-year longer life expectancy, free of chronic diseases.
Lifespan of Men
Men who failed to follow any of these healthy behaviors would likely develop one of these three conditions by the time they were 73, the same for women, but could live disease-free until they were 81. This is three years earlier than women. Overall men could live an extra 12 years following these healthy habits, with their life expectancy going from 26 to 38 years after age 50. Males gained seven years longer life expectancy, free of major chronic diseases, over those with no low risk factors.
How they Found this Data
Using 110,000 people participating in the study for 34 years, Harvard tracked this data. To determine the healthy rate of exercise for each individual, the study used the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, which says that people should at least exercise 30 minutes per day with moderate activity. In addition, the study used the Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine how much a person should weigh. Moderate alcohol intake for women is generally 175ml of wine per day and 350ml for men. Smoking is, of course, a huge factor in health and life expectancy. The likelihood of getting a disease goes way up when you smoke tobacco, and the study reflects this.
Flaws with Other Studies
One of the main flaws of other studies concerning healthy habits and life expectancy is that many of these studies don’t take into account health span. This is not the amount of years you live—otherwise known as your lifespan—but how many of those years are healthy before old age takes its toll. Few studies have looked the effects of lifestyle on disease and the study from Harvard provides strong evidence for the significance of living a healthy lifestyle.
Who is Worse Off?
Overall, the study determined that men who smoke 15 or more cigarettes a day are those who would encounter disease most frequently. In addition to smoking, those with a BMI over 30 had the lowest proportion of disease-free life. While it is clear that simple and healthy habits can have a large impact on your life expectancy, we can know fully quantify how many years it can save you. Those who weigh too much and smoke a lot are the ones who will get diseases the most, living shorter lives.
It doesn’t matter how healthy you are, all of us can become healthier by eating better and exercising more regularly. Staying away from tobacco and alcohol can really improve your health and life expectancy. It’s all quite basic. We already know how much these things can affect our health. Only now we know just how much they affect the amount of years we will leave. As studies like this one become more common, people everywhere may be more motivated and inspired to treat themselves better and live longer.
About the author: Ryan Beitler is a journalist, writer, and blogger. He has written for many publications including Paste Magazine, The Slovenia Times, OC Weekly, Deadline News, and many travel publications.