How to live 20 years longer: scientists share basic rules

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Researchers have identified eight habits that will make life not only longer, but also more active

Living a long, active and healthy life is the dream of most of us. This research shows that we can do a lot to make it a reality.

According to the Guardian, scientists have compiled a list of eight habits that can extend life by 20 years or more. Ideally, these habits should be introduced before reaching middle age, but they will be beneficial no matter what age you start implementing them.

This was stated by Xuan-Mai T. Nguyen, a healthcare professional who works for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "The sooner, the better, but even if you make a small change in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, it will still be beneficial," she said. The expert explained that a healthy lifestyle will be beneficial to both an individual and public health.

Here is a list of these habits:

  • proper nutrition
  • quitting smoking
  • quality sleep
  • sufficient physical activity
  • stress management
  • avoidance of binge drinking
  • no dependence on opioids
  • having positive social connections with other people

The study Nguyen described was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Boston. Its authors analyzed data from questionnaires and medical records collected between 2011 and 2019. The records covered more than 700,000 US veterans aged 40 to 99. All of them were participants in the Million Veterans Program. Of these, 33,375 died during the study period.

Nguyen and her colleagues studied the information about these people to determine what habits are associated with increased life expectancy. It turned out that a clear pattern was observed for eight habits. Even the introduction of one of them had a positive impact, and the combination of several was even more beneficial.

"Men and women who adopted the eight therapeutic lifestyle factors could increase their life expectancy by 23.7 or 22.6 years, respectively, at age 40 compared to those who did not adopt any lifestyle factors," the authors wrote in their study.

According to their analysis, low physical activity, opioid drug use, and smoking reduced life expectancy the most. Participants with these lifestyle factors had a 30-45% higher risk of death during the study than the rest of the subjects. Stress, excessive alcohol consumption, poor sleep hygiene, and poor nutrition increased this risk by about 20%.

The authors noted that their work was observational in nature. Therefore, they cannot claim that the correlations they found indicate a direct causal relationship with lifestyle. Prof. Naveed Sattar, an expert in cardiovascular and metabolic disease at the University of Glasgow who was not involved in the study, also warned that the study did not include a trial, and therefore many factors could make the conclusions less accurate.

Nevertheless, Sattar praised his colleagues' work. "These findings add to the notion that our lifestyle matters as much, if not more, than the medications we receive to prevent or treat numerous chronic diseases," he said. He added that helping people adopt healthy habits can reduce the cost of treating chronic diseases and help them live more enjoyable and productive lives.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told you about a simple exercise that can help prolong life. It does not require any additional equipment.

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