Harvard researchers say five things will help you live longer, and the list isn't all that surprising: exercise, eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy body weight, don't drink too much, and don't smoke. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, with five low-risk lifestyle factors is associated with increased life expectancy, according to a study published online April 30 in Circulation.
"Adopting a healthy lifestyle could substantially reduce premature mortality and prolong life expectancy in USA adults".
Despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the average American has a shorter life expectancy compared to other wealthy countries, such as Japan, Canada, and Norway. Exercise was set at 30 minutes or more moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. They found that following the five healthy habits above can reduce the overall risk of death by 74 percent, the risk of death from heart disease by 82 percent, and the risk of death from cancer by 65 percent.
"These are some of the leading causes of premature death, so by preventing or reducing the incidence of those diseases, it promotes longevity, and it also improves survival after diagnosis of those diseases", 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 and co-author of the study told CNN.More news: Iowa's Daniels Selected by Chicago Bears in 2nd Round of NFL Draft
The researchers also found that there was a dose-response relationship between each individual healthy lifestyle behavior and a reduced risk of early death, and that the combination of all five healthy behaviors was linked to the most additional years of life. Compared with people who adopted none of them, men and women who adhered to all five saw their life expectancy at 50 rise from 26 to 38 years and 29 to 43 years respectively, or an extra 12 years for men and 14 for women.
The new study used data from 78,865 women over 34 years and from 44,354 men over 27 years. In other words, women who maintained all five healthy habits gained, on average, 14 years of life, and men who did so gained 12 years, compared with those who didn't maintain healthy habits.
Life expectancy at the time of birth in the US rose from 63 years in 1940 to 79 years in 2014.
Prof. Hu says that in the USA, "adherence to healthy lifestyle habits is very low", and that public policy should do more to create "healthy food, built, and social environments to support and promote healthy diet and lifestyles". Only 8% of the general population followed all five healthy habits.