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[JUST DO IT] Adopting 5 or more healthy habits tied to greater life expectancy, even for elders

Researchers in Japan have assessed the impact of modifying lifestyle behaviors on life expectancy from middle age onwards. and found that adopting five or more healthy lifestyle behaviors increased life expectancy even for individuals over age 80, including those with chronic conditions.

The study used a baseline survey of close to 50,000 individuals conducted from 1988 to1990 in 45 areas of Japan. The aim was to increase knowledge about what factors contribute to death from cancer and cardiovascular disease; thus, the questionnaire included components such as diet, exercise, alcohol intake, smoking status, sleep duration, and body mass index. The researchers gave points for each healthy behavior and the impact of modifying these lifestyle behaviors on projected lifespan was assessed.

The study continued until December 2009, by which time 8,966 individuals had died. Principal author Dr. Ryoto Sakaniwa said, "The results were very clear. A higher number of modified healthy behaviors was directly associated with great longevity for both men and women." The lifetime gains were highest for reducing alcohol intake, not smoking, losing weight, and increasing sleep, adding up to six years of life for healthy 40-year-olds.

The lifetime gains were 2- 5 years for reducing alcohol intake <46.0 g/day; 4 years for never having smoked; and 1.3–1.7 years for BMI 21–25 kg/m2 and a sleep duration of 5.5–7.4 h/day. The remaining modifiable lifestyles, such as regular exercise, showed small but significant lifetime gains of 0.5–1.1 years.

The benefit was prominent even among older individuals (80 years or more) and those with one or more major comorbidities including cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disease, and in each life stage from middle age onwards. "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.

To read the full article, “Impact of modifiable health lifestyle adoption on lifetime gain from middle to older age,” click here

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