If someone told you they had the secret to boosting your life span by more than a decade you’d probably think they were either a con artist or a miracle worker. But a new American study from Harvard University has found there are five factors which prolong life expectancy and they don’t come in the form of a newfound drug or treatment.
The study showed that people who stuck to these five healthy habits in adulthood could add more than a decade to their lifespan.
“When we embarked on this study, I thought, of course, that people who adopted these habits would live longer. But the surprising thing was how huge the effect was,” said Meir Stampfer, a co-author on the study.
They analysed a database of 123,000 men and women and studied 34 years of detailed health and lifestyle information. Over that period there were 42,167 deaths.
But they discovered if the five factors were followed from the age of 50 years they could extend a woman’s life by 14 years and a men’s by 12 years in comparison to the people who took on none of the factors.
Unfortunately less than two percent of the people in the study actually had all five low risk factors, while a third had two or fewer.
“The question is how to improve behavior,” said the senior author, Dr. Frank B. Hu, a professor of medicine at Harvard. “Individual changes are not sufficient. We need dramatic changes in food, physical activity and social environment to make healthy choices more accessible, affordable and normative.”
When it comes to smoking low-risk was someone who had never smoked.
A healthy weight was a person with a body mass index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 24.9
Exercise needed to be at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day, with the study noting that included brisk walking
As for alcohol consumption and a healthy diet, they took this to mean not going over recommended daily limits. No more than 150ml glass of wine a day for women or two for men. The diet needed to be rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains and low in saturated fats, sugars and red meat.
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