How to live longer: The three building blocks to boost longevity

There’s no point making it to old age if you’re not going to enjoy yourself while you get there. New clinical research examined how a healthy lifestyle is related to life expectancy that is free from major chronic diseases. In the process, they highlighted three building blocks to boost longevity.

Published in the prestigious British Medical Journal, this year, researchers analysed a wealth of data.

They collated data from the Nurses’ Health Study (1980-2014), which consisted of 73, 196 participants.

In addition, data was extracted from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986-2014), which involved 38,366 participants.

The research team were based at The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In particular, they paid attention to those who didn’t end up getting diabetes, any cardiovascular disease or cancer.

Senior researcher, Yanping Li, said: “Previous studies have found that following a healthy lifestyle improves overall life expectancy and reduces risk of chronic diseases.

“But few studies have looked at the effects of lifestyle factors on life expectancy free from such diseases.”

Delving into their research, they identified “low-risk lifestyle factors” that influenced how long a person lived disease-free.

For example, women who followed the three building blocks of life enjoyed nearly 35 more years free of diseases compared to women who didn’t.

And, for men, the trend was similar: those who performed the same habits lived more than 30 years free from diseases compared to men who didn’t look after themselves.

What are the three building blocks of life that helped people live free from diseases?

The first one was “consuming a healthy diet”, full of fruits, vegetables and legumes.

The authors noted a healthy diet “explicitly emphasised on high intakes of whole grains, nuts, and fish”.

The second lifestyle factor was “maintaining a healthy body mass index [BMI]”, which is between 18.5-24.9 (test your BMI here).

The BMI measures your weight against your height and age to generate its figure.

The third life-boosting habit was to “exercise regularly”, which consisted of at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

In order for the exercise to count as “moderate”, the heart rate must’ve increased during the task.

For instance, taking a brisk walk will need to make you feel warmer, and you won’t be able to sing while doing it.

These three building blocks to boost longevity added 14 years of life to women, and 12 years for men.

Interestingly, these standards were observable in individuals who adopted the healthy habits at the age of 50.

In order to reap the benefits of a prolonged and disease-free life, two other factors were taken into account.

Those who followed the healthy lifestyle habits also refrained from smoking tobacco.

In addition, the same group of people also limited their alcohol intake by not exceeding the 14 units per week limit.

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