Only five lifestyle habits can change your health prospects in old age, and while they're straightforward, they may not be easy to implement all at once.
In particular, there are five habits that, if set in middle age, could rid a person of chronic diseases later in life, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They are: healthy eating, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not drinking excessively and never smoking. This lifestyle could prevent type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
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The researchers, who came to this conclusion in a study published years ago, double their conclusion.
"This study provides strong evidence that a healthy lifestyle can significantly extend the years in which a person lives disease-free," said Yanping Li, senior scientist at the Department of Nutrition and author of the study. Previous studies have shown that these lifestyle habits improve life expectancy and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. However, you haven't mentioned how these routines would affect the years of living longer without illness.
The Harvard researchers found that women who developed four out of five of these habits at age 50 lived 34 years free from diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer compared to those who did not maintain this lifestyle, and lived disease-free for almost 24 more years. Men who started adopting four out of five of these lifestyle habits at the age of 50 lived 31 years longer without chronic illness compared to their colleagues without this lifestyle who lived without illness for 23.5 years longer.
The authors analyzed 34-year data from more than 73,000 women and 28-year data from more than 38,000 men who participated in the health study for nurses and the follow-up study for health professionals. The latest results have been published online on BMJ.com, a medical journal reviewed by professionals.
Americans live longer than ever before, but some suffer from numerous chronic diseases. According to a study published in the British journal Age and Aging, the number of seniors with four or more chronic diseases should double between 2018 and 2035. Two thirds of the additional life expectancy (3.6 years for men and almost 3 years for women) are spent on these diseases.
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Even years later, as the Harvard researchers suspect, this could have a significant impact on your health later in life, such as in the late 50s to early 60s. A healthy 60-year-old man who regularly does sports, eats well, and sleeps at least eight hours a night could live healthy another 13 years, according to researchers at the Goldenson Center for Actuarial Research.
As with many resolutions and new goals, it is best to start with small changes to the routine. For some this means that if possible they climb the stairs, for others that they eat more homemade meals than take away. Further changes for a healthier and longer life? Sociability that scares isolation and loneliness, and learning new skills that challenge the mind.