It's not surprising that healthy habits make you healthier, and can conceivably even help you live longer. What might be surprising however, is the number of extra years that living a healthy life can bring you.
A recent study aimed at clarifying the impact of lifestyle factors on premature mortality and life expectancy was published in the journal Circulation. The study concluded that the projected life expectancy of someone at age 50 was on average 14.0 years longer among female Americans with 5 low- risk factors compared with those with zero low-risk factors; for men, the difference was 12.2 years.
The 5 low-risk factors found to be significant were:
BEING A NON-SMOKER. The most powerful factor studied. For the purposes of this study, the researchers defined low risk as never smoking.
BEING A HEALTHY WEIGHT. This was based on an individual's BMI and low risk was defined as being 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2. Healthy weight is the second most powerful factor in this study.
GETTING REGULAR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. Low risk was defined as someone who got more than 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day.
HAVING A HEALTHY DIET. A healthy diet is probably the most variable and difficult factor to measure. There are so many components and so much evidence that contradicts and/or promotes varying dietary habits. For the purposes of this study, low risk for this category was based on a diet score in the top 40% of the Alternate Healthy Eating Index Score.
DRINKING ALCOHOL NO MORE THAN MODERATELY. Up to 1 standard drink (15gm of alcohol) for women and 2 standard drinks (30 gm of alcohol) for men per day was considered low risk. **It should be noted that any consumption of alcohol may be associated with greater risk for developing certain types of cancer.
"Prevention should be a top priority for national health policy, and preventive care should be an indispensable part of the US healthcare system."
Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population
published April 30, 2018 in Circulation
Authors: Li, et al.
Each of the above lifestyle factors is associated with the most common chronic diseases that cause premature death. While this should encourage and motivate people to make lifestyle changes, it is still the most difficult aspect of living healthy: changing behavior
What is the answer?
Prevention. Prevention. Prevention. It's not a secret, but the question remains on a large scale, "How do we prevent illness, disease, and premature death?" National policy will continue to be debated about where to spend more money and how to distribute resources properly. On an individual scale the answer is easy. Once you're in the "healthcare" system, it means you've already got disease. Prevention is hard because it is difficult to motivate change without some type of "pain".
The answer on the big and small scales is the same: Each person should take responsibility for their health. It's not easy, but it can be done. Making healthy habits a habit is best way to automate getting and staying healthy.
HOW TO START YOUR HEALTH TRANSFORMATION
Choose one behavior to change or add to your life at a time using the Health Transformation Process.