Most people would love to live longer. Many seek expensive ways to prolong their lives with gimmicky diets, unproven supplements, or unusual health regimens, and then they find exotic and costly ways to look the part with plastic surgery, hair implants, and body sculpting. Longevity seems to be a multi-billion-dollar industry. But what if there were a no-cost way to add years to your life – years of health and vitality? As it turns out, there is, and the “secret ingredient” happens to be no secret at all, as this early January article from CNN reveals.
Change These Five Habits and Live Up to a Decade Longer
We found this article from CNN reporter Sandee LaMotte to be intriguing, not because it presents revolutionary information, but because it quantifies the health benefits of common sense. Recent comprehensive studies have shown that people can add seven to ten years of healthy, disease-free living to their lifespan with these five simple steps:
- Quit smoking
- Start exercising
- Lose weight
- Stop drinking too much alcohol
- Eat a healthy diet.
The good news, says Harvard researcher Dr. Frank Hu, senior author of the most recent study, is that these behaviors can help both men and women enjoy a longer life free of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. “We found that following a healthy lifestyle can substantially extend the years a person lives disease-free,” said Dr. Hu. “In particular, women who practiced all five habits gained over 10 years of disease-free life, and men who did so gained almost eight years.”
New Study Shows How to Live Longer While Remaining Disease-Free
The new study appeared in early January in the journal BMJ. In it, the Harvard research team examined data from an earlier major 2018 study that tracked more than 38,000 men for 28 years and 73,000 women for 34 years. “That research,” says the CNN report, “found women who adopted all five healthy habits at age 50 lived 14 years longer than women who did not; men who were following all five lifestyle factors at age 50 lived 12 years longer than men who followed none.” In the new study, analysts were looking specifically at how well these five healthy habits could not only prolong life but reduce risk of disease. The results were dramatic.
“Women who practiced four or five of the healthy habits over the next 20 to 30 years,” Hu told CNN, “had an additional 10.6 years of disease-free living compared to women who adopted no lifestyle changes. When broken down by disease, the healthier women gained an average of eight years free of cancer, 10 years with no cardiovascular disease and 12 years without diabetes.” The male subjects also showed significant improvement. “Men who practiced four to five healthy behaviors gained 7.6 years’ longer life expectancy; an average of six more years without cancer, almost nine more years free of heart issues and over 10 years without diabetes.”
With Healthier Habits, You Can Live Longer Even If Illness Should Strike
The Harvard researchers reported that health improvements from the five healthy habits were consistent across multiple ages and ethnic groups. The team also examined the outcomes of subjects in the study group who were diagnosed with chronic disease during the research period. Even these people showed major gains in longevity. “The data showed half of people diagnosed with cancer lived an additional 23 years if they adopted four of five healthy practices. Among those who didn’t change, half only survived an additional 11 years. The same patterns were seen for both heart disease and diabetes,” CNN reported.
“This is a positive health message because it means healthy lifestyle habits not only prolong life, but also improve the quality of life and reduce sufferings related to chronic diseases,” Hu said. And even if you’ve lived several years with poor lifestyle choices, Hu adds that “it is never too late to adopt these habits. For smokers, the single most important thing that one should do is to stop smoking. For nonsmokers, eating a healthy diet and being physically active are important for keeping a healthy weight.”
Good Health Involves Preventing, Not Just Treating Disease
We at AgingOptions are firm believers in good preventive medicine, and we reject the idea that proper medical care means little more than treating disease after it strikes. In our view, seniors should start their health care journey by consulting with a geriatric physician, known as a geriatrician, because these doctors are well-trained and board-certified in meeting the unique health care needs of senior adults. A good geriatrician will help make certain you’re on the right path regarding diet and exercise. He or she can guide you toward healthy weight loss and can advise you concerning smoking cessation and cutting down on excessive drinking.
Staying healthy can also mean avoiding isolation and maintaining good social connections with friends and family. It can involve making sure that your home is a secure place where you can live safely. When it comes to preventive care, you need a holistic approach to defining “good health,” something with which a geriatrician is uniquely qualified to assist you.
Retirement Planning Should Be Holistic, Too
In much the same, way we advise a holistic approach to retirement planning. Medical care is important, but it’s only one part of the picture. A good retirement plan encompasses other key facets such as housing needs, family dynamics, and, of course, financial and legal planning. When these are all working together, you have what we call a LifePlan – a blueprint that allows you to build the retirement you’ve always looked forward to. As the saying goes, aging well is not simply about adding years to your life – it’s also about adding life to your years.
Please accept our invitation to join Rajiv Nagaich at a highly informative, free event where he can explain more about LifePlanning and answer all your questions. These LifePlanning Seminars are offered throughout the Puget Sound area, with a new seminar schedule posted every few weeks here on our Live Events page. Once you’ve selected the date and location that works for you, you can either register online for you and your guests or call us during the week. If it’s time to see how healthy your retirement plan is, you’ve come to the right place. Age on!
(originally reported at www.cnn.com)