6 Ways to Boost Your Longevity

Posted on March 18, 2016 by Jenna Ahlschlager, ACE-CHC

Longevity Can Be Predicted by Lifestyle Score: Predictor Based on Bad Habits

Longevity

It’s no secret eating healthy and getting regular exercise plays a pivotal role in overall wellness and can contribute to an improved quality of life. But more and more evidence is emerging to show certain factors and lifestyle behaviors can actually help your longevity. Every year about 38 million people die from chronic diseases, the most common being cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. The most startling fact about these diseases is they can be prevented. Yes, more than two thirds of the world’s annual deaths are largely attributed to modifiable lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet.

The study, "Traditional and Emerging Lifestyle Risk Behaviors and All-Cause Mortality in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: Evidence from a Large Population-Based Australian Cohort" investigated 231,048 adults, age 45 and up, scored six health behaviors:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Dietary behavior
  • Physical activity
  • Sedentary behavior
  • Sleep

They added up the scores to come up with a “lifestyle risk index” based on factors the adults in the study were exposing themselves to:

  • 1/3 of the participants reported exposure to one risk factor
  • 1/5 reported exposure to two risk factors
  • 1/10 of the individuals reported exposure to three or more risk factors

They used the scale “person-years lost,” i.e.; the number of years lost due to a person dying prior to the study ending. Based on the research, one third of the person-years lost could have been avoided had the studied adults scored a zero on the risk scale.

Another surprising fact is both sleep and being sedentary may have more of an impact than we previously realized. It is not so surprising to learn the combination of smoking and high alcohol consumption were most strongly associated with all cause mortality; however, the combination involving physical inactivity, sedentary behavior and/or long sleep duration was found to be just as harmful in some cases. The bottom line: get up and get moving to improve your longevity!

The findings of the study indicate adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors such as regular physical activity and a healthy diet, as well as avoiding risk factors like smoking, excessive alcohol use, prolonged sedentary behavior and lack of sleep  can reduce the risk for death. While these 6 factors are not an all inclusive list of predictors, it is possible to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases by encouraging people to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Source: TIME

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