It looks like its time to get up from the couch, turn off the TV, and put on your running shoes.
Aside from making you fit and strong, a study has confirmed that living a healthy lifestyle can also help add seven disability-free years to your life.
The results of the research, which was published in Health Affairs, determined that several healthy lifestyle factors can boost your longevity by as much as seven years. Most of those years can even be spent free of any disability.
The study findings noted that to some extent, alcohol consumption, being obese/overweight, and quitting smoking are connected with more disability-free years of life. The researchers examined data gleaned from the Health and Retirement Study. The study the scientists referenced looked into the health outcomes of over 14,000 individuals aged 50 to 89 from 1998 to 2012.
Using the data, the researchers determined that individuals who lived healthy lifestyles were able to increase their longevity by at least seven years with a delay in disability onset of about six years.
Men who didn’t smoke, drank in moderation, and weren’t obese had an average life expectancy of 11 years, unlike people in the same age group who took part in high-risk behaviors. Meanwhile, the women lived 12 more healthy years compared to peers who drank heavily, were overweight, and smoked. (Related: When weighing all the factors, experts say leading a healthy lifestyle is your best bet against cancer.)
The researchers categorized disability as limitations in one of these five daily activities:
- Getting dressed
- Getting in/out of bed
Dr. Mikko Myrskylä, co-author and executive director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, noted that one benefit of living more years disability-free is the need for fewer health care services. With a healthy, productive population, both individuals and communities can enjoy a greater quality of life.
Although the three risk factors were linked to early onset of disability, obesity had a greater link to it. The researchers did state that their study didn’t take genetic factors that could influence risk behaviors into account.
Dr. Myrskylä emphasized the need for a more effective policy that can minimize risky health behaviors, such as the promotion of the dangers of tobacco and encouraging moderate drinking, which were both public health successes. But obesity has proven to be more challenging since experts have yet to finalize the most effective way of addressing this risk factor.
Dr. Myrskylä shared that individuals older than 50 who drink excessively, are smokers, or are obese shouldn’t feel dismayed by these findings since it’s not too late to make lifestyle changes that can improve their health conditions.
He concluded, “For example, we observed that former smokers had almost as long healthy lifespan as never-smokers.” Individuals who take action right away and make healthier life choices can still enjoy “massive health gains.”
Tips to live a healthy lifestyle
Aside from drinking moderately, quitting smoking, and staying in shape, here are other tips to help you live a healthy lifestyle:
- Consume more fruits and vegetables – Try to eat more than three servings of fruits and vegetables a day to improve your health. Eating fruits and vegetables regularly, which are rich in fiber and vitamins, may help lower your risk of heart disease by 76 percent.
- Exercise regularly – This may seem like common sense, but not enough people exercise regularly despite its many health benefits. If you’re up for it, regular high-intensity exercise, like running, can add about four years to your life. Any kind of regular exercise is food for the heart, mind, and metabolism. If you want something slower paced, taking a 30-minute brisk walk daily can also help lower your risk of heart problems.
- Get busy in the bedroom – Having sex regularly, or at least two to three times weekly, may add at least three years to your life. Sex can burn as many calories as running for 30 minutes, and having sex regularly can even help boost your immunity, lower your blood pressure, and strengthen your heart.
- Spend time with family and friends – Not spending enough time with your loved ones can increase your risk of heart disease. Loneliness might even cause inflammation, and even if you’re healthy, this can be just as dangerous as having high cholesterol or smoking regularly.
- Switch off the TV – Spending too much idle time just watching TV can be bad for your health. If you can’t say goodbye to your favorite shows, make an effort to limit your binge-watching to less than two hours daily.
You can read more articles about disease prevention and other tips on how to live a healthy lifestyle at Longevity.news.
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