The findings of a new longevity study show that healthy lifestyle habits can add up to six years to an person’s life, even if the habits are adopted in middle or older age. The study that took place across 21 years, monitored 49,000 Japanese men and women aged between 40-80 to assess how health habits and behaviors affected their life expectancy. During the study, eight lifestyle factors were assessed: consumption of fruit, fish and milk, walking and/or sports participation, body-mass index, smoking status, alcohol consumption and sleep duration.
Researchers found that each health habit was associated with a minimum of a half-year gain for both men and women. Additionally, middle-aged participants (aged 40) that adopted seven or eight of the habits saw a lifetime gain of up to six years. Adopting healthy lifestyles was associated with lifetime gain, even in individuals aged 80 years or more. A few key habits had a significant impact on life expectancy:
- An alcohol intake of less than 46gm per day = lifetime gain of 1.9yrs for men and 4.9yrs for women.
- Never having smoked = lifetime gain of 3.8yrs for men and 3.7yrs for women.
- Maintaining a healthy body composition (21–25 kg/m2) = lifetime gain of 1.3yrs for men and 1.7yrs for women.
- Sleeping 5.5 to 7.4 hours a night = lifetime gain of 1.4yrs for men and 1.6yrs for women.
One Step At A Time
The study shows that it is never too late to optimise your health and wellness habits. Small changes practised consistently over time can lead to massive shifts in your health. These tips will motivate you to get started now.
Make sleep a priority: Sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity.… it is when your body repairs, restores, maintains and detoxifies itself.
Wear a tracker: Capable of tracking our health data, these devices can help us better understand our own health and fitness.
Get sun into your eyes: Exposure to full spectrum sunlight in the morning causes our bodies to produce serotonin, which not only helps later on with nighttime sleep, but improves mood throughout the day.
Take care of your mind: Setting your mind up for success is critical for the productivity you’ll manifest throughout the day. You can meditate, journal or read.
Take cold showers: Cold showers have been proven to benefit us in many ways such as boosting our moods, helping to fight off colds and increasing focus.
Stock your kitchen with healthy food: As we know, food is medicine, and we have to choose wisely. Make it easy to eat whole foods, healthy fats, clean protein and lots of fruits and vegetables.
Move your body throughout the day: Moving improves everything: your metabolism and your microbiome, your sleep, your immunity, your stress response, and the overall balance in your life.
Strength train: Strength training builds confidence, muscle, and healthy tissue. It’s also good for stable joints and injury prevention.
Make sure you drink enough water: Your brain is literally made up of water (75% to be exact!), so it needs fluids in order to work properly.
Practice breathwork: Breath work can reset your nervous system and relax your body. Pause, inhale, pause, exhale—repeat.
Make joy a priority: Life is about memories – don’t get too busy to make them with people you love.
Walk barefoot: Grounding, also known as earthing, can lower blood pressure, improve heart rate variability and decrease cortisol levels.
Check your biomarkers: Routine blood work is a great way to understand your health at a deeper level. Checking in on your biomarkers can help you catch any issues before they become a problem.
Take time to destress and slow down: You can’t zoom through all your tasks all day on go go go mode and then suddenly stop, drop, and expect to sleep.