5 Healthy Habits to Live Longer

Healthy salad with cherries and goat cheese (photo by annapustynnikova)

The Harvard T.H. Chan of Public Health recently conducted a study and concluded that adopting five habits can add up to a decade of life. The five habits for a longer life are:

  1. Eat a Healthy Diet (upper 40% on diet quality score, which assigns score values to foods based on nutrition and from my research seems mostly like a common sense dietary guide )
  2. Exercise Regularly (30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day)
  3. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight (body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2)
  4. Not Smoking
  5. Don’t Drink Alcohol Excessively (equivalent of 1 glass of wine a day for women or 2 for men)

This study is the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of low-risk lifestyle factors on life expectancy. Women who followed all five habits saw an increase in life expectancy of 14 years, while men saw an increase of 12 years.

My immediate reaction to the study was, well…duh. I think we all assumed that living a healthy lifestyle would improve the length of our life. But it is interesting to see that the data confirms those assumptions and quantifies the impact. I also think that the study reminds us of the real importance of following a healthy lifestyle. So often my thought process on wanting to live a healthier lifestyle is focused on the way I look. But health is a far more worthwhile goal than vanity. When I’m in my 70s or 80s I hope I won’t be so fixated on my looks, and I’m sure I will want more healthy years ahead. And I think the simplicity of the five habits make them seem attainable.

I definitely try to adhere to all of these habits but I definitely could do a better job with regular exercise and obviously I didn’t maintain a healthy body weight for the first two decades of my life. Thankfully I have never had an issue with smoking, and except for a few years in college, I don’t drink very much.

Which of the habits do you practice regularly? Which do you find most difficult?

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8 thoughts on “5 Healthy Habits to Live Longer

  1. Emily of The Three Bite Rule

    The daily 30 minutes of exercise isn’t quite a daily habit. I feel like I go all out one day, and not much another. If I get up & all dressed and out to run/take a class at the gym/etc then I tend to do a lot. It is definitely an area to improve on!

    Reply
  2. Karl

    This definitely depends on your environment. Being 30 and living in a big city makes not smoking the easiest and drinking excessively the most challenging. Some of my weight loss clients in rural areas have the opposite problem, however. And of course, number three is probably a result of the other four.

    Reply
  3. Leanna

    Definitely the drinking. I work out, eat very healthy, dont smoke, but I love a few ice cold beers, I never have just one. Two or three usual does the trick. That would be very hard for me to change

    Reply
  4. Lois Erdmann

    I do tend to balk at the 30 minutes of exercise every day. I wish I could find something that I enjoyed enough that I actually looked forward to doing it. I need motivation. The things I enjoy most are sedentary like my knitting, crafting, reading,painting, and making jewelry. On the plus side I do enjoy gardening.

    Reply
  5. Deb D

    I exercise regularly and have a good diet (most of the time) and don’t smoke but only having one drink per day would be very difficult…. that’s my tough one! I usually have two drinks per night most nights of the week and a little more than that on the weekend.

    Reply
  6. Emily S.

    I’m with some of the other commenters: all of these are easy for me except #5. I like a glass of wine at 5 pm and another with dinner! I don’t drink to get drunk but because I enjoy the taste and relaxation of wine. :-)

    Reply
  7. Vince

    The easiest way that I’ve found for the exercise is simply walking. That’s not normally moderate activity, I know. But, it is at the pace that I walk at. To me, that seems much more practical than a workout, especially as walking physically gets me someplace.

    Reply

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