Wouldn’t it be great to live an extra 24 years? Adopting eight healthy lifestyle habits by the time you’re 40 could make it happen, according to new research. If you’re starting at age 50 instead, you could still add up to 21 years to your life, the study finds. And if you don’t do it until age 60, you could still gain almost 18 years if you add all eight healthy habits.
The new study analyzes data on U.S. veterans and its findings were presented yesterday at Nutrition 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition. “There’s a 20-year period in which you can make these changes, whether you do it gradually or all at once,“ says lead study author Xuan-Mai Nguyen. “The earlier the better, but even if you only make a small change in your 40s, 50s or 60s, it still is beneficial.”
Adding one healthy behavior at age 40 could add 4.5-years to a man’s life and 3.5-years to a woman’s life. Adopting additional habits adds more years and doing all eight gives you an “added boost to extend your life, but any small change makes a difference,” Nguyen explains. So what are these life-extending habits? All things you’ve heard before that are actually attainable for most folks.
- Exercise - Study authors find working out is one of the most important behaviors anyone can do to improve health, as it can lead to a 46% decrease in the risk of death from any cause compared to those who don’t exercise.
- Not becoming addicted to opioids - This can reduce the risk of early death by 38%.
- Never using tobacco - The study finds this can lower the risk of death by 29%, but stopping smoking at any point in life comes with major health benefits.
- Managing stress - It reduces the risk of early death by 22%, according to the study.
- Eating a plant-based diet - The study shows this could raise your chance of living longer by 21%.
- Avoiding binge drinking - Not having more than four alcoholic drinks a day reduces the risk of death by 19%, study results show.
- Getting a good night’s sleep - At least seven hours a night can reduce early death by 18%.
- Having positive social relationships - Helps boost longevity by 5%, the study finds.