By Lucy Buglass
A new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) says that women and gain 10 and men seven years of life free from diseases by following a healthy lifestyle.
This new research into healthy habits is based on 111,000 people who were tracked for over 20 years to monitor their health.
Study lead author Dr Frank Hu, from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said that it had a “positive message for the public”.
He added, “They gain not just more years of life but good years through improved lifestyle choices."
When study participants were 50-years-old, they were asked if they met at least four of the five criteria. This would indicate a ‘healthy lifestyle’.
The criteria is never smoking, a healthy balanced diet, 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity every day, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9, and no more alcohol than a small glass of wine a day for women and a pint of beer for men.
This study revealed that women who said they met four out of five of the above lived an average of another 34 years free of cancer, cardiovascular disease (eg: heart attack or stroke) and type 2 diabetes.
For men, it was an average of 31 years. The difference between men and women may be linked to the fact that women typically live longer.
However, for both sexes it was revealed that a healthy lifestyle with exercise, a good diet and no smoking not only reduced the risk of diseases, it also improved survival if they were diagnosed with it.
With cancer, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes being three of the most common diseases in old age, the findings of this study could help people reduce the risk by developing healthier habits.
However, despite these findings, the study can’t conclude that these healthy habits were directly responsible for extending life.
Because the researchers had to rely on people giving them information on food intake, exercise, and height and weight, it might not have been one hundred per cent accurate.
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