Add Ten Years to Your Life by Living Healthy

If you were told that you could live longer by adhering to a set of healthy behaviors, would you believe it?  More importantly, would you be willing to adopt those behaviors? The 2017 data from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook ranked the United States 43rd with a life expectancy of 80 years at birth.

Research studies suggest that the following set of five behaviors can add as many as ten years to your life. These include

  1. Maintaining a healthy body weight
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Quitting smoking
  4. Limiting alcohol intake and
  5. Eating a healthy diet

The study suggests that even at age 50 if a person decides to live healthy, the benefits are there to reap.  The study published in the journal Circulation observed an increase of fourteen years among women and 12.2 years among men, who opted to bring about the five-factor healthy lifestyle change. While the study design and sample were robust, the study was limited by the fact that date of adoption of a healthy lifestyle was self-reported making it prone to errors of measurement.

The five-factor health behavior change drastically reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer that claim more lives each year than many other health conditions combined. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes 1 in 4 deaths to cardiovascular diseases or about 1671 deaths per day. The American Cancer Society statistics show that a similar number of people will die of cancer.

Living healthy does not just add years to life but also enhances the quality of those years. Dr. Meir Stampfer, at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who co-authored the study said adhering to these five healthy habits not only reduces the incidence of these diseases but also promotes healing and survival after diagnosis. It is disheartening to see that in spite of the obvious gains, only 8% of US adults actually engage in healthy behaviors. As a country, it is imperative, that we help build an environment that facilitates the adoption of a healthier lifestyle.

Dr. Douglas Vaughan, chairman of the department of medicine in Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, pointed out that of the five factors, quitting smoking was the single most important factor. If there is one step that we must take, it should be the promotion of tobacco cessation.