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Following Five Healthy Habits May Add Years to Life

Americans have a lower life expectancy than people from other high-income nations. A recent study suggests that eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight, not drinking too much alcohol, and not smoking during adulthood may add more than 10 years to Americans’ lifespans.


Participants in the study included 78,865 women who took part in the 34-year Nurses' Health Study and 44,354 men who took part in the 27-year Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The researchers examined the impact of five lifestyle factors on mortality; not smoking, low body mass index (18.5-24.9 kg/m2), 30 minutes or more per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, moderate alcohol intake, and a healthy diet.


The researchers found that participants who didn’t follow the five lifestyle factors had an estimated life expectancy at age 50 of 29 years for women and 25.5 years for men. However, those who did follow the lifestyle factors had an estimated life expectancy of 43.1 years for women and 37.6 years for men. This means that following the lifestyle factors added an average 14 years of life for women and 12 years of life for men.


Additionally, people who followed all five factors were 74% less likely to die during the study period than those who followed none of them. The healthiest participants were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer when compared with those with the least healthy lifestyles.


Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of public health conducted the study. It was published on April 30, 2018 in the journal Circulation.

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