8 habits for a longer life

8 habits for a longer life

Eight Healthy Lifestyle Habits that Can Extend Your Lifespan


A new study suggests that adopting eight healthy lifestyle habits by middle age could significantly increase your life expectancy. Not only can these habits add years to your life, but they can also improve the overall quality of your life. From getting enough sleep to maintaining positive social relationships, these habits have the power to make a difference.

The Study: A Closer Look

The study, presented by Xuan-Mai T. Nguyen at the Nutrition 2023 meeting, analyzed data from the Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program (MVP). This program focuses on understanding how genes, lifestyles, military experiences, and exposures impact health and wellness. The study included over 700,000 participants between the ages of 40 and 99. The findings are based on data collected between 2011 and 2019.

The Eight Healthy Habits

The eight identified habits that were associated with a longer life expectancy are:

  1. Being physically active.
  2. Not smoking.
  3. Managing stress.
  4. Maintaining a good diet.
  5. Not regularly drinking alcohol excessively.
  6. Maintaining good sleep hygiene.
  7. Maintaining positive social relationships.
  8. Not developing an opioid addiction.

The Impact on Lifespan

The study found that veterans who adopted all eight habits had a 13% reduction in death from any cause compared to those who adopted none of these habits. Furthermore, men who adopted all eight habits at the age of 40 would live, on average, 24 years longer than those who adopted none of these habits. Women who adopted all eight habits by age 40 would live 23 years longer on average.

It’s important to note that low physical activity, opioid use, and smoking had the largest impact on an individual’s lifespan. These habits were associated with a 30% to 45% higher risk of death. Other habits, such as stress, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, and poor sleep hygiene, were associated with a 20-30% increase in the risk of death.

The Role of Mental Health

The study also highlighted the impact of mental health on life expectancy. Living with anxiety or depression was associated with 8% of premature deaths. This finding emphasizes the need to consider psychosocial factors in future research and healthcare practices.

Preventing Chronic Disease for a Longer Life

Chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, are major contributors to mortality and disability in the United States. Unhealthy lifestyle habits are responsible for a significant portion of chronic diseases. Approximately 90% of diabetes, 80% of coronary heart disease, and 70% of cardiovascular mortality can be attributed to these habits.

Lifestyle medicine, which focuses on preventing chronic diseases through healthy habits, offers a potential solution. By adopting healthy habits, individuals can alter the course of their health and reduce healthcare costs. The Million Veteran Program, with its comprehensive data, provides valuable insights into the impact of lifestyle factors.

It’s Never Too Late to Make Changes

Even if you can’t adopt all eight healthy habits, there are still benefits to be gained. The study showed that any positive change in lifestyle habits can lead to improvements in life expectancy. So, whether you start in your 40s, 60s, or even later, making healthy changes can still make a difference.

Adding Years to Life Expectancy

Doctors have long advised patients to eat right and exercise regularly. This study quantifies the benefits of adopting healthy habits, helping clinicians explain the importance of lifestyle changes to their patients. If all the healthy habits are wrapped together, starting early can lead to a substantial increase in life expectancy. It’s not just a matter of a few extra days or months, but rather a meaningful extension of life.

Observational Study and Causality

It’s important to note that this study is observational, which means it cannot establish causality. While the researchers controlled for various factors, the findings do not imply causation. The data presented at the Nutrition 2023 meeting underwent a committee review but did not undergo the same peer review process as a published scientific journal.

In conclusion, adopting healthy habits can have a significant positive impact on your life expectancy. From reducing the risk of chronic diseases to improving mental health, these habits can enhance both your longevity and overall well-being. It’s never too late to make a change, and even small improvements can make a meaningful difference in your life. So, why not start today? Your future self will thank you.