A healthy lifestyle helps you have an extra decade free of disease

Lifestyle

Healthy habits can forestall cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, study finds.

  • Not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, exercising regularly, eating well, and maintaining a healthy weight are all good for you, but how good?
  • In a new study of more than 100,000 people having four of these five above healthy lifestyle traits enjoyed an extra 10 years of disease-free life.
  • Researchers say their findings underscore the need for public policy to do all it can to push people towards healthier lifestyles.

The Guardian reports that not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, exercising regularly for at least 30 minutes a day, eating well, and maintaining a healthy weight are all associated with an extended run of good health. By contrast, those who drank, smoked too much, were overweight, or didn’t exercise had higher rates of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes in the study of more than 100,000 people.

The study specifically looked at how long people with healthy lifestyle could expect to live without the appearance of those health problems.

Researchers picked these five healthy habits for the study: a body mass index (BMI) between 18 and 25, never smoking, moderate alcohol consumption – roughly one drink a day for women and two for men, at least 30 minutes of moderate to physical activity per day, and a healthy diet.

The research team looked at how many extra years those participants with these five healthy habits could expect to enjoy free of cancer, heart disease, or diabetes after age 50.

Healthy lifestyles

The study found that women with four of the five healthy habits got 34.4 years of good health, taking them to age 84. Women with none of the five traits of a healthy lifestyle could expect just 23.7 years of good health after age 50.

Men with four of five healthy lifestyle traits cashed in 31.1 healthy years while men with none of those behaviors only 23.5 years. Those with the worst chances of living healthy were men who smoked more than 15 cigarettes per day and people of any gender with a BMI over 30.

The researchers hope their results can help align public policy with improved public health.

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