A massive study of the impact of health habits on life expectancy was recently published by researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.
The study used data from the well-known Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) and Nurses’ Health Study (NHS).
The following five areas of focus were chosen from the study results that have been shown to have a significant impact on risks for premature death. The healthy habits were defined and measured by the study.
Healthy physical activity level
A healthy activity level was measured as at least 30 or more minutes per day of moderate or vigorous activity daily.
Healthy body weight
The study defines a healthy body weight as a normal body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.
A healthy diet was calculated and then rated based on the reported intake of healthy foods like fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Moderate alcohol intake
The study defined moderate alcohol intake as between 5 and 15 grams per day for women, with men’s intake lying between 5 and 30 grams per day.
When it comes to smoking, “healthy” refers to never having smoked. As researchers emphasized, there is no healthy amount of smoking.
When it comes to lifespan, does a healthy lifestyle make a difference?
As research shows, healthy habits make a significant impact on lifespan. According to the study, people who met the criteria for all five healthy habits enjoyed significantly longer lives than those who had none. The differences were 12 years for men (if they had these habits by age 50) and 14 years for women.
Individuals who had none of the habits were significantly more likely to die prematurely from cardiovascular disease or cancer. Study researchers also calculated life expectancy based on how many of the five healthy habits people had.
People who had even one of the five healthy habits extended life expectancy by two years in men and women. The more healthy habits that individuals had, the longer their lifespans became.
Achieving longevity through healthy habits
The study and researchers point out that we spend liberally developing treatments and expensive drugs to treat diseases instead of preventing the diseases.
According to health experts, the best way to help people extend their lives is to champion healthy lifestyle and diet changes.