Researchers identify eight healthy habits which could add decades to your life

A large-scale United States study reveals men and women who adopt eight healthy lifestyle habits by age 40 live more than two decades longer on average than those who did not.

The eight habits associated with a longer life include: being physically active, being free from opioid addiction, not smoking, managing stress, having a good diet, not regularly binge drinking, having good sleep hygiene, and having positive social relationships.

According to the study, men who adopted all eight by age 40 lived on average 24 years longer than those with none. For women, the difference was 21 years. 

Conversely, three unhealthy habits – low physical activity, opioid use and smoking – were each associated with a 30-45% higher risk of death.

Stress, binge drinking, poor diet and poor sleep hygiene were each associated with around a 20% increase in the risk of death.

Lack of positive social relationships was linked to a 5% increased risk of death.

The study of 719,147 US veterans quantifies the benefits of healthy lifestyle factors in lengthen a person’s life.

Participants in the large, nationally representative study of US veterans between 2011 and 2019 were aged 40 to 99 years old. Over the study timeframe, there were 33,375 deaths.

“We were really surprised by just how much could be gained with the adoption of one, two, three, or all eight lifestyle factors,” says Xuan-Mai T. Nguyen medical researcher and health science specialist at the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Nguyen is presenting the findings at Nutrition 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.

The largest gains were associated with earlier adoption of healthy habits. But while the gains grew smaller with age, they remained significant. 

“It is never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle,” says Nguyen

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