How to live longer: Harvard study reveals how to add DECADE of healthy life

It really is never to late to start a healthy lifestyle – and now a new study revealed you can add more than 10 years to your life with some simple changes. The Harvard study has revealed maintaining five healthy habits by 50 can add more than a decade of healthy life by holding off major diseases.

Those who ate a good diet, exercised, were a healthy body weight, did not smoke and did not drink too much, lived free of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer for far longer.

The findings of the current study highlighted the importance of health prevention

Dr Yanping Li

The scientists report females who maintained all five habits by the age of 50 could expect to live to 84 years and four months before succumbing to any of the illnesses.

Female who followed none of these practices, conversely, would likely develop at least one ailment by 73 years and eight months.

Males who followed none of the healthy behaviours were also likely to develop one of the three conditions by 73 years and one month.

They could, however could delay the deterioration until 81 years and six months by living well.

Dr Yanping Li, the study’s senior research scientist at the Department of Nutrition at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, told “It is never too late to start a healthy lifestyle, but the earlier the better.

“The life expectancy is growing worldwide including both developed and developing countries, that’s why more and more people concerned about the healthy ageing.

“Previous studies have found that following a healthy lifestyle improves overall life expectancy and reduces risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

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“But few studies have looked at the effects of lifestyle factors on life expectancy free from such diseases.

“The findings of the current study highlighted the importance of health prevention.”

The Harvard scientists examined data from two longitudinal studies involving more than 110,000 people dating back up to 34 years.

Dr Li added: “The study was impossible without 30 plus years of data collection and data management of many co-workers.”

Healthy diet was defined as a high score on the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, regular exercise as at least 30 minutes per day of moderate activity, healthy weight as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2; and moderate alcohol intake as up to one 175ml glass of wine per day for women and a maximum of two glasses for men.

Lifestyle factors including smoking, exercise, alcohol intake, body weight and diet quality have long been known to impact both life expectancy and likelihood of chronic diseases.

However few studies have looked at how a combination of lifestyle factors relate to life expectancy free from such diseases.

The new study is the first to reveal the majority of the extra time will be spent in good health.

Males who smoked 15 or more cigarettes a day or obese men and women with a BMI of 30 or over, had the lowest proportion of disease-free life.

The study’s senior author and Harvard Professor of Nutrition Dr Frank Hu wrote in the report: “Given the high cost of chronic disease treatment, public policies to promote a healthy lifestyle by improving food and physical environments would help to reduce health care costs and improve quality of life.”

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