Not smoking, regular exercise, a healthy diet, healthy body weight and not drinking too much are the five golden rules that can help to extend our lives by more than a decade
Living to a ripe old age doesn’t have to involve the search for the fabled elixir of eternal youth.
The real answer to long life comes down to following just five straightforward lifestyle steps, say experts.
And they can add 14 years to the life of a woman aged 50 – and 12 years for a man, US researchers found.
Not smoking, regular exercise, a healthy diet, healthy body weight and not drinking too much are the five golden rules that can help to extend our lives by more than a decade.
Researchers studied 34 years of data from women and 27 years of data from men involved in two large national US health surveys. Those who followed all five steps were 74 per cent less likely to die during this period than participants who didn’t stick to any of the lifestyle habits.
Their death rate was much lower for heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Study author Frank Hu, of Harvard’s T H Chan School of Public Health, said: ‘It is critical to put prevention first.
‘Prevention, through diet and lifestyle modifications, has enormous benefits in terms of reducing occurrence of chronic diseases, improving life expectancy as shown in this study, and reducing healthcare costs.’
According to the study, those who followed the five golden steps were 82 per cent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease kills more than one in four Britons – a death rate of one every three minutes – while 450 a day die from cancer.
According to the study, those who followed the five golden steps were 82 per cent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
SIMPLE STEPS TO LIVING LONGER
- Not smoking
- Eating a healthy diet
- Regular exercise (30 or more minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily)
- Moderate alcohol consumption (5 to 15g a day for women – approximately a medium glass of wine – or 5 to 30g for men – a large glass of wine)
- A healthy body weight (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m²)
The risk of dying from cancer also fell by almost two-thirds, the analysis found. Diet has long been cited as a key factor in healthy living.
There is evidence that a Mediterranean diet high in fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, olive oil and fish can help ward off heart problems and cancer.
Regular exercise is classed by researchers as half an hour or more of moderate to vigorous activity a day.
A healthy weight means keeping a body mass index ranging from 18.5 to 24.9 – neither underweight or overweight.
Moderate alcohol consumption means a medium glass of wine a day for women, and a large glass for men. Over the course of the study, researchers recorded 42,167 deaths, of which 13,953 were due to cancer and 10,689 were caused by cardiovascular disease.
Following all five lifestyle behaviours showed the most protection against early death.
Dr Hu said: ‘Quantifying the association between healthy lifestyle factors and longer life expectancy is important not only for individual behavioural changes but also for health communicators and policy-makers.’
The findings are published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.