These Healthy Habits Add Years to Your Life, According to New Research

A new study found that by adopting certain lifestyle habits you can boost longevity even in your 80s. Researchers from Osaka University in Japan say reducing drinking, not smoking, losing weight, and getting more sleep yield big dividends when it comes to longevity, even for people who have chronic health issues.

According to Study Finds, these habits increased longevity by six years in healthy 40-year-olds, with benefits even more prominent in those twice that age. Surprisingly, the advantages of these good habits even applied to those with life-threatening illnesses including cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease. These diseases are known to reduce life expectancy, but the study results showed that a healthy lifestyle can offset that effect.

Researchers gathered data from almost 50,000 people living in Japan who were followed for 20 years.

“This is a particularly important finding given that the prevalence of chronic disease has increased globally and is a major cause of death in older populations,” said senior author Dr. Hiroyasu Iso, who is a pioneer in the field of social epidemiology.

The research team published its findings in the journal Age and Aging emphasizing the importance of improving one’s lifestyle for increased lifespan, even among older patients and those with multiple long-term health conditions, or multimorbidity. Lifespan is also affected by socioeconomic status and access to healthcare, said the scientists who assessed the participants initially between 1988 and 1990. Study participants answered questionnaires about diet and exercise, alcohol consumption, smoking status, sleep duration and their BMI, or body mass index. They also reported any illnesses.

The study project continued until December 2009, says Study Finds, by which time 9,000 individuals had died.

“The results were very clear. A higher number of modified healthy behaviors were directly associated with greater longevity for both men and women,” said Dr. Ryoto Sakinawa, one of the study authors. This is one of the first studies to measure the impact of lifestyle choices and healthy behavior among older individuals — even those with illness — in a country with a national life expectancy of almost 85 years.

Last year, British researchers came to a similar conclusion on the benefits of healthy habits and longevity. Their study found that regular exercise and a balanced diet helped overcome the negative impact of long-term diseases on life expectancy. The research concluded that middle-aged people who have multiple long-term conditions can expect to live an extra six or seven years if they adopt a healthy lifestyle.

The Japanese researchers note that their findings on how positive lifestyle improvements have such a profound impact on health and longevity is “empowering.”

“The findings of this study will contribute to the design of future healthcare settings, public health approaches, and policies that work in partnership with patients to promote healthy lifestyle choices,” researchers wrote in a statement, says Study Finds.

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