A healthy lifestyle is key in enjoying the later years in life. Don’t burden yourself with life-threatening diseases and cancers – look after yourself. Treat your body well, and it’ll most definitely look after you in the twilight years. There are five everyday habits that need to hop it.
Published in the medical peer-reviewed journal BMJ, researchers analysed the impact that five bad lifestyle habits had on the chances of living a longer life free from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other health issues.
The study focused on these five unhealthy habits: smoking, not exercising, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol and eating an unhealthy diet.
Researchers examined prior data – where a study followed more than 38,000 men for 28 years and 73,000 women for 34 years – to see how chronic disease affected the quality of life during the study period.
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“We found that following a healthy lifestyle can substantially extend the years a person lives disease-free,” said Dr Frank Hu, who chairs the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Findings reveal that women who refrained from those bad habits “gained over 10 years of disease-free life, and men who did so gained almost eight years”, added Dr Hu.
So what healthy habits did those who lived a longer, disease-free life adopt? For one, not smoking. Another was keeping a healthy BMI below 25, doing at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, drinking alcohol moderately and eating a healthy diet.
The results of the study couldn’t be more apparent. Women at the age of 50, who dropped unhealthy habits and turned them around into healthy habits, lived 14 years longer than women who didn’t.
And men who followed all five healthy lifestyle factors at age 50 lived for 12 years longer than men who followed none.
“It’s never too late to adopt these habits,” Hu said. “For smokers, the single most important thing that one should do is to stop smoking. For nonsmokers, eating a healthy diet and being physically active are important for keeping a healthy weight.”
Delving into the data even more, women who practised four or five of the healthy habits over the next 20 to 30 years gained an average of eight years free from cancer, 10 years with no cardiovascular disease and 12 years without diabetes.
Men who practised four to five healthy behaviours gained an average of six more years without cancer, almost nine more years free of heart issues and over 10 years without diabetes.
“This is a positive health message because it means healthy lifestyle habits not only prolong life, but also improve the quality of life and reduce sufferings related to chronic diseases,” Hu added.
Even those diagnosed with cancer lived an additional 12 years if they adopted the healthy lifestyle habits compared to those who didn’t.
I need to quit smoking
There’s lots of support out there to help kick the filthy habit once and for all. Of course, any support must be aligned with a dogged determination to eliminate the unhealthy habit for yourself.
Will power is paramount, as well as consistency – taking each day at a time. To find out how you could take steps to say goodbye to smoking, visit the website Stop Smoking London or attend your local NHS stop smoking service.
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Keeping my BMI below 25
BMI (Body Mass Index) measures your height and weight to figure out if your weight is healthy or not.
You can easily calculate your BMI – as long as you know your height and weight – on the NHS BMI calculator.
Help! My BMI is over 25
Okay, so you’ve measured yourself online and found your in the “overweight” category. Don’t panic. The next step ties into another healthy lifestyle habit anyway.
Bet you’ve guessed it. Yep. Exercise. To be precise, at least 30 minutes of exercise should be performed everyday.
Simple swaps, such as walking up stairs instead of taking the escalators or lifts, can make all the difference. How about walking to the local shop instead of driving?
Am I drinking moderately?
Drink Aware is a great resource to see how many units is in your favourite tipple. At present, UK guidelines suggest women and men drink no more than 14 units in a week.
A healthy diet
It can’t be stressed enough how important eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day is. The nutrients and minerals packed in these food types are incredible for helping you to live a longer, healthier life.
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