Eating and sleeping well, avoiding binge drinking and managing stress are just some of eight lifestyle changes that could help people add more than 20 years to their life.
A recent study has identified the key areas that could extend your life, even if they are adopted in middle age.
Researchers examined data from questionnaires and medical records between 2011 and 2019 involving 700,000 US veterans aged from 40 to 99.
- Combining several healthy lifestyle choices can slow memory decline
- Unhealthy lifestyles more damaging for males
The eight lifestyle factors linked to longer life were:
- Eat well
- Don’t smoke
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Manage stress
- Avoid binge drinking
- Be free from opioid addiction
- Have positive social relationships.
The study authors said: “Men and women who adopted eight therapeutic lifestyle factors could gain 23.7 or 22.6 years of life expectancy, respectively, at age 40 years compared to those with no adopted lifestyle factors.”
Health science specialist Xuan-Mai T Nguyen said: “Our research findings suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle is important for both public health and personal wellness.
“The earlier the better, but even if you only make a small change in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, it still is beneficial.”
People who don’t exercise, take opioid drugs or smoke have a 30% to 45% greater risk of dying early, according to the findings. The risk of early death increased by about 20% for people with poor sleep, poor diet, experiencing stress or who binge drink.
- Lack of time and motivation main barriers to healthy living
- More evidence that nutrition is a key factor for healthy aging
One expert who has urged caution when considering the results was Professor Naveed Sattar, an expert in cardiovascular and metabolic health at the University of Glasgow. He said because the research did not involve a trial, other factors could distort the picture.
However, Prof Sattar went on to say: “These data add to the notion that how we live our lives matters as much if not more than the medicines we receive to prevent or manage numerous chronic diseases. This means we cannot simply medicate ourselves to good health and lifestyle always matters.
“Therefore, if people can be helped by the NHS to develop better lifestyle habits, this may lower chronic disease costs and help people live more enjoyable and productive lives.”