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:
- 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 )
- Exercise Regularly (30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day)
- Maintain a Healthy Body Weight (body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2)
- Not Smoking
- 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?