Five healthy habits could help prolong your life by 10 years or more! That, according to a new study just released in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
A new study examining three decades of data has found that men and women following five lifestyle habits can add more than a decade of life expectancy. The habits aren’t new: eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy body weight, not drinking too much alcohol, and not smoking. But according to this study, the first comprehensive analysis of its kind in the U.S., they also aren’t very well followed.
“This study underscores the importance of following healthy lifestyle habits for improving longevity in the U.S. population,” said senior study author Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School. “However, adherence to healthy lifestyle habits is very low.”
According to MarketWatch.com, “Men and women who followed the healthiest of lifestyles were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer compared with people who lived unhealthy lifestyles over the course of 30 years.”
Time Magazine dug a little deeper into the criteria researchers used to come to the conclusion that these five habits could help us live longer.
People were considered to have a healthy diet if they fell into the top 40% of the study group, based on their Healthy Eating Index score; to drink moderately if they had a drink or fewer per day for women, or two drinks a day or fewer for men; to have a healthy body weight if their body mass index fell between 18.5 and 24.9; to exercise regularly if they were active for at least 30 minutes a day; and to not smoke if they had never picked up the habit.
The percentage of Americans who adhere to the five healthy habits is remarkably low. How low? How about 8 percent according to the new research! And, in a WebMD story, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, said the healthy habits are not unreasonable.
“These five things can empower every one of us to make a huge difference,” she said.
The habits are also realistic, Steinbaum noted. For example, moderate exercise — such as brisk walking for 30 minutes a day — was enough.
“That isn’t a crazy amount of exercise,” Steinbaum said. “It doesn’t require you to join a gym.”
USA Today quoted lead author Frank Hu as saying, “Quantifying the association between healthy lifestyle factors and longer life expectancy is important not only for individual behavioral changes but also for health communicators and policy makers. It is critical to put prevention first.”
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this new study and whether you think we can help Arizonans start to follow and stick to these five healthy habits. If you do, share your ideas on how we might be able to do it. Generating dialogue around the health stories making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!