According to research, those who start eight healthy living behaviors by the time they reach middle age may live significantly longer.
- Good sleep hygiene and quitting smoking were two of these habits.
- It is anticipated that men who adopt all eight behaviors by the age of 40 will live an average of 24 years longer than men who don’t.
- It was expected that women who embraced all eight behaviors by the time they turned 40 would live an average of 23 years longer than those who didn’t.
- Eight lifestyle habits that, when adopted by midlife, may increase a person’s longevity were identified by a recent observational study.
The Veterans Affairs Thousands Veteran
Program MVP, a health research initiative centered on more than a million American veterans, provided data from medical records and questionnaires that were completed by 719,147 participants. The program’s goal is to aid in the study of the effects of genes, lifestyles, military experiences, as well as exposures on health and wellness.
The study was presented on Monday at
Nutrition 2023, the premier annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Boston, Massachusetts, by Xuan-Mai T. Nguyen, a health science experts at the Department of Veterans Affairs and fourth-year physician at Carle Illinois College of Medicine in Illinois.
The eight behaviors noted are:
- exercising and quitting smoking
- managing stress, having a healthy diet, abstaining from excessive alcohol use on a regular basis, and maintaining adequate sleep habits
- keeping healthy social connections
- not becoming addicted to opioids
- What behaviors can significantly lengthen a person’s lifespan?
- This study’s data was gathered between 2011 and 2019. 40 to 99 year old US servicemen were represented in it. During the follow-up, over 30,000 people passed away.
“We looked at all-cause mortality in this research using cox proportional hazard regression models & longevity using a multi-lifetable method, calculating the longevity for male veterans & female veterans separately,” said Nguyen.
When compared to veterans who did not practice any of the eight behaviors, deaths from any cause were reduced by 13%.
According to the study, men who have embraced all eight habits by the time they are 40 are likely to live 24 years longer on average than men who have not done any of these things. By the time they turn 40, women who have mastered all eight of these behaviors typically live 23 years longer than those who have not.
“Take-home message: Veterans who commit to a moderate change towards living healthier lives during middle-age may prolong their life expectancy,” Nguyen emphasized to Medical News Today.
The most significant effects on a person’s lifetime, according to the researchers, were smoking, low levels of physical exercise, and opiate usage. These behaviors were linked to a 30% to 45% increased chance of passing away during the study period.
A 20–30% increase in the risk of death during the research period was linked to stress, binge drinking, a poor diet, and poor sleep hygiene. In contrast, there was a 5% higher risk of death linked to a lack of supportive social connections.
Life expectancy most likely has an impact on mental health.
“We’ve never measured the link between anxiety or depression and death before. We discovered from this investigation that it was linked to 8% of early deaths. This study and our conclusions have caused us to reconsider how to design future studies to more effectively include psychosocial elements, according to Nguyen.
The relationship between psychological lifestyle characteristics and MVP life expectancy was initially examined in this study.
preventing chronic illness to lengthen life
The main causes of death and disability in the United States, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, are chronic diseases including heart disease and diabetes.
Over 80% of healthcare expenditures are related to non-communicable chronic diseases, according to Nguyen’s statement to MNT.
“Living with a chronic illness is expensive and taxing on both the patient and society. According to studies, bad lifestyle choices are responsible for over 90% of diabetes, 80% of coronary heart disease, and 70% of cardiovascular death.
Preventing chronic diseases is the expertise of lifestyle medicine.
Dr. Nguyen added that lifestyle medicine “provides a potential avenue for altering the course of growing [healthcare] costs resulting from prescription medicine and surgical procedures.” Because it is a rare chance to better understand and care for a particular demographic of people who have dedicated themselves to service, “we chose to explore lifestyle factors among vets participating in the Million Veteran Program (MVP).”
The study’s co-author, Dr. Yanping Li, is a research scientist in the Department of Food at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She was also a co-author of a study published in 2018 called Trusted Source, which found that maintaining five healthy habits as adults—eating a balanced diet, working out frequently, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking—may add more than a decade to one’s lifespan.
The data the MVP collects is so extensive that the researchers were able to add three more healthy behaviours to this study. According on the data that was available, Dr. Li remarked, “we expanded the previous five lifestyle factors into eight.”
Healthy behaviors can be adopted at any time.
Even if patients are unable to practice all eight healthy habits, there will still be benefits.
The amount that may be gained by adopting just one, two, three, or all eight lifestyle elements truly caught us off guard. Nguyen remarked.
That aspect of the study caught the attention of Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases and preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
He told MNT, “It was impressive in that even if you start and don’t do them all, it still is beneficial.
Developing healthy habits later in life may yield lesser predicted increases in life expectancy, but it is still likely to be beneficial, according to the research.
According to the results of our study, living a healthy lifestyle is crucial for both individual and societal wellness, said Nguyen. “The earlier, the better, but even if you make modifications to your 40s or 60s, it still is beneficial as seen in our study findings!”
How to extend life expectancy by a few years
Doctors have traditionally recommended healthy eating and frequent exercise to their patients. They can measure the advantages of adopting healthy habits thanks to studies like this one.
“The purpose is to let the general audience and clinical practice physician to understand what the difference [is] if they do this or that, so it’s kind of [to help] them explain to the patient why it’s so important to adopt a healthier lifestyle,” Dr. Li said to MNT.
Dr. Schaffner thinks the study’s findings provide strong evidence.
“If you do wrap them all together, and you start relatively early, it does seem to predict that you receive a substantial increase in your life expectancy,” the man added. We’re not referring to hours, minutes, days, weeks, months, or even a few years.
An observational research can’t prove causation
“Our estimations are based on observational data, and causality cannot be assumed from our findings,” the researcher stated. “I think one of the most important limitations & cautions that people need to keep in mind while interpreting the results of our study is that this.”
“Even though we properly accounted for confounding variables, our findings do not necessarily infer causal effects. Given the observational nature of our work, it is crucial to avoid overinterpreting the results, the researcher continued.
The abstracts chosen for Nutrition 2023 were examined by an expert group, but they did not go through the same peer review procedure needed for publication in a scientific journal.