Exercise regularly, don’t smoke or abuse painkillers: People who stick to these and other healthy behaviours live significantly longer – by over 20 years. This is shown by a new study presented at a nutrition conference in Boston/USA.
Add to that low stress and alcohol, a healthy diet, sufficient sleep and good social contacts. Women who adhere to all these principles live more than 22 years longer, men even almost 24 years, according to the study presented by a team led by Xuan-Mai Nguyen from the University of Illinois at the annual conference of the U.S. Society of Nutrition in Boston.
Data from 700,000 people 40 and older
The experts analyzed data from more than 700,000 U.S. veterans aged 40 to 99 for the study. It defined a healthy lifestyle as eight habits: being physically active, not smoking, coping well with stress, eating well, not drinking alcohol inordinately, sleeping well and regularly, having positive social relationships, and not dependent on opioid painkillers.
“We were really surprised at how much you could gain by implementing one, two, three or all eight lifestyle factors,” Nguyen is quoted as saying in a news release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Never too late for a healthy lifestyle
Low physical activity, dependence on opioid painkillers and smoking emerged as the most significant risk factors. These factors were each associated with an increased risk of death by 30 to 45 percent during the study period. Poor stress management, high alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and poor sleep hygiene increased the risk of death by about 20 percent and lack of good social contacts by five percent.
Medical researchers found that changing a healthy lifestyle still increases life expectancy at a set age. “The earlier the better, but even if you make just a small change in your 40s, 50s or 60s, it’s still beneficial,” Nguyen points out.
Climate-friendly diet also helps.
The study data comes from the Million Veteran Program. This U.S. national research program examines how genes, lifestyle, and military experiences affect the health and well-being of former military members.
Also presented at the annual conference of the U.S. Society for Nutrition in Boston was a study that examined the relationship between a climate-friendly diet and health. According to it, the so-called planetary diet reduces mortality risk by a quarter.
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