A new unpublished study analyzing data on US veterans suggests that adopting eight healthy lifestyle choices at the age of 40 could potentially extend one’s life by up to 24 years. Even starting at age 50 or 60, significant life extensions of 21 and nearly 18 years, respectively, were observed by incorporating these habits.
Lead study author Xuan-Mai Nguyen, a health science specialist for the Million Veteran Program at the VA Boston Healthcare System, emphasized that there is a 20-year window to make these changes, and it can be done gradually or all at once. The study also revealed that making these healthy changes remains beneficial even for those already dealing with chronic diseases.
So, what are these magical healthy habits? They include exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, reducing stress levels, getting sufficient sleep, and fostering positive social relationships. On the other hand, avoiding smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and opioid addiction are crucial for promoting longevity.
The study, presented at Nutrition 2023, examined the lifestyle behaviors of nearly 720,000 military veterans aged 40 to 99 as part of the Million Veteran Program, a longitudinal study focused on the health and wellness of US veterans. Results showed that adding just one healthy behavior to a man’s life at age 40 could extend life by 4.5 years, with further increases observed as more healthy habits were adopted, potentially leading to nearly 25 extra years of life.
Women also saw significant increases in life span through adopting healthy habits, gaining 3.5 years with one habit, 12.6 years with three habits, and an impressive 22.6 years with all eight healthy behaviors. The study revealed an 87% relative reduction in all-cause mortality for those who adopted all eight lifestyle factors compared to those who adopted none.
The study ranked the lifestyle choices based on their impact on longevity, with exercise being the most important, providing a 46% decrease in the risk of death from any cause. Not becoming addicted to opioids and never using tobacco were the next most influential factors. Managing stress, eating a plant-based diet, avoiding binge drinking, getting adequate sleep, and being surrounded by positive social relationships also contributed to prolonging life.