Do you want to live a longer and healthier life? A groundbreaking new study reveals that adopting just eight healthy lifestyle habits could potentially extend your lifespan by up to 24 years. Even if you start later in life, the benefits are still substantial, offering hope to individuals of all ages seeking to improve their well-being and longevity.
The study, which was presented at Nutrition 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, analyzed data on nearly 720,000 US veterans aged 40 to 99. It focused on the health and wellness of these veterans, who were part of the Million Veteran Program—a longitudinal study dedicated to investigating veterans’ health.
The Healthy Habits
Lead study author Xuan-Mai Nguyen, a health science specialist for the Million Veteran Program at the VA Boston Healthcare System, shared that the magic lies in embracing these eight healthy habits. They are:
Regular physical activity is a cornerstone of good health. Whether it’s a brisk walk, cycling, or dancing, staying active keeps your heart strong, boosts your immune system, and helps maintain a healthy weight. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity weekly exercise to reap the full benefits.
2. Avoid Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction can have devastating consequences on health and well-being. By steering clear of these drugs, you protect yourself from potential life-threatening risks, improving your overall quality of life and ensuring a healthy habit for life.
3. Don’t Smoke
Kicking the smoking habit is one of the most significant steps you can take for your health. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, and many other serious health conditions, leading to a longer, smoke-free life.
4. Manage Stress
Chronic stress takes a toll on both mental and physical health. Practice mindfulness and meditation, or engage in activities you enjoy to help manage stress and improve your overall well-being.
5. Follow a Plant-Based Diet
A plant-based diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, is a healthy habit that provides essential nutrients and antioxidants that support you long-term. Embracing this dietary pattern can promote a longer and healthier life.
6. Avoid Binge Drinking:
Moderation is key when it comes to alcohol consumption. By avoiding excessive drinking, you protect your liver, heart, and overall health, ensuring a brighter, healthier future.
Read: 10 Morning Habits We Should Say Goodbye to Once and For All
7. Get Sufficient Sleep:
Prioritize your rest and let your body recharge during sleep. Quality sleep is vital for physical and mental well-being and is one of the most important healthy habits on this list, contributing to increased energy levels and improved cognitive function.
8. Cultivate Positive Social Relationships:
Human connections are essential for happiness and longevity. Surrounding yourself with positive social relationships provides emotional support and a sense of belonging, enhancing your overall quality of life.
The study also found that the benefits of these healthy habits were cumulative. The more habits individuals adopted, the greater the boost to their longevity. For men, each additional healthy behavior at age 40 resulted in an extra 4.5 years of life, and for women, it added 3.5 years. By adopting all eight habits, men gained nearly a quarter century (22.6 years), and women saw an impressive 22.6-year increase in lifespan.
Even starting these lifestyle changes later in life offered significant benefits. For those beginning at age 50, they could prolong their life by up to 21 years, and at age 60, they could still gain almost 18 years of additional life.
The study’s results remained consistent even when accounting for factors like age, body mass index, sex, race, ethnicity, marital status, education level, and family income level.
Although the study focused on veterans, its findings suggest that these healthy lifestyle habits can be beneficial for the general population as well. While the study shows a strong association, it doesn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Therefore, further research may be needed to validate these results across different populations.
To maximize your chances of living a longer and healthier life, consider incorporating these habits gradually into your daily routine. The earlier you start, the greater the potential benefits, but any positive change, no matter how small, can make a significant difference. Remember that your health is an investment in your future; these attainable lifestyle changes could be the key to unlocking a longer, happier life.
Keep Reading: 9 Common Habits That Could Lead to Kidney Damage
- “These 8 habits could add up to 24 years to your life, study says.” CNN. Sandee LaMotte. July 24, 2023.
- “Eight Habits for Longevity: Life-Lengthening Factors Increase Lifespan by 24 Years” Neuroscience News. July 24, 2023