Simple Habits That Can Tack You Years on Your Lifespan
Health & Beauty / /
How many times have you heard these advices: eat healthy foods and eat regularly, exercise regularly, don’t smoke? We hear these mainly from doctors, friends, parents, and in the media. It also happens that the words start to lose their meaning and impact. To be honest, it is hard to stick to healthy habits, unless there’s proof they work rather than they might be easier to swallow.
A recent study examined five lifestyle factors that influence how long we live. The research showed that people who were persistent in following the five healthy habits— maintain a healthy body weight, drink no more than one glass of alcohol per day, eat a healthy diet, abstain from smoking, and exercise at moderate pace for at least half an hour or more a day—had more chances of living longer past age 50—14 years more for women and 12 for men, compared to their peer who didn’t practice any of them.
A healthy weight
To understand the influence of weight, researchers focused on people’s body mass index-- a comparison of a person’s height and their weight, used for getting a rough estimate of body fat. The findings were not surprising. People with BMIs between 18.5 and 22.9 had a higher chance of living longer than those with BMIs values outside that range, which makes sense.
The cool thing here is that even a small weight loss can mean big differences. Losing just 5 to 10% of your body weight can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. On the other side, not having enough body fat can prevent the movement of hormones throughout the body. That’s the reason why it’s important to work with a doctor when attempting to lose weight.
Moderate Alcohol Consumption
The researchers also found that moderate drinkers had better chance of living longer compared to heavy drinkers. They defined moderate alcohol consumption as 5 to 15 grams per day for women and 5 to 30 grams per day for men. That equals to one standard drink for women and 2 for men.
The available evidence around moderate drinking is tricky. The question here is whether people who moderately drink fair better than people who abstain, and it remains to be seen.
A high-quality diet
Nutrition studies are generally hard to do because of all the other factors that could influence, including stress, exercise, human test subjects and other environmental factors. To understand the influence of the foods on participant’s health, the researchers used the so called Alternate Healthy Eating Index Score. It breaks food down into its components—lasagna, for instance, into ground beef, ricotta cheese, onions, and so on. The cheese is further broken down into a dairy component and a fat component. On the bases of these components participants were assigned from 1 to 10 points, where 10 meant recommended servings of all the components, and were associated with a reduced risk of various diseases.
The Mediterranean diet, however, is considered the best diet. If you focus on eating unprocessed foods most of the time, you are doing great things for your health.
Just find a diet you can stick to—enjoying unhealthy things occasionally is much better than periodically failing hard at your strict diet.
Times when cigarettes were recommended to patients for reducing stress or losing weight are long over. It is now believed and proved that smoking significantly increases the chances of lung cancer as well as other lung and heart diseases. So if you want to live longer and you’re still smoking—stop doing that.
As Popular Science reports, researchers found that those who exercised for at least 30 minutes a day at a moderate to vigorous pace (including brisk walking) were in the lowest-risk group for developing certain diseases later in life, and thus they had the potential to live longer.
Two main things that exercise does are: boosting metabolism and contributing to weight loss or stability.
Researchers are finding a whole bunch of other things that happen in your body when you exercise, like the creation of new heart cells and an increase in bone strength. One recent study suggests that even if you have a family history of heart disease, exercise can reduce your risk.
Physical activities can boost your mood as well. Just remember how good you will feel after your work out could motivate you get going.