Apparently there’s eight simple rules to add years to your life.
Adopting some simple, healthy habits by middle age will pay dividends in the future, according to a new study presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s annual meeting on Monday.
Researchers studied data collected from more than 700,000 U.S. veterans, observing how their life expectancy shifted based on the number of healthy habits they adopted.
They found, on average, including these habits increased male’s lifespan by 24 years and women’s by 21 years.
“We were really surprised by just how much could be gained with the adoption of one, two, three, or all eight lifestyle factors,” Xuan-Mai T. Nguyen, health science specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs and rising fourth-year medical student at Carle Illinois College of Medicine said in a news release.
“Our research findings suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle is important for both public health and personal wellness,” Nyugen continued. “The earlier the better, but even if you only make a small change in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, it still is beneficial.”
The habits include:
- Being physically active
- Being free from opioid addiction
- Not smoking
- Managing stress
- Having a good diet
- Not regularly binge drinking
- Having good sleep hygiene
- Having positive social relationships
Researchers used data from medical records and questionnaires collected from 719,147 people aged between 40-99 who were enrolled in the Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program, between 2011-2019.
The common factors contributing to shorter lifespan included: low exercise, opioid use, and smoking. Scientists noted these factors were associated with around a 30-45% higher risk of death during the study period.
Stress, binge drinking, poor diet, and poor sleep hygiene were each associated with around a 20% increase in the risk of death, and a lack of positive social relationships was associated with a 5% increased risk of death.
It’s never too late the make the changes too, Nguyen noted, although added “the earlier the better.”
“But even if you only make a small change in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, it still is beneficial,” Nguyen said. “It is never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle.”
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