What’s the secret of leading a healthier, longer life? Researchers have been trying to find the answer to this question for the longest periods of time. Some health and wellbeing truths are universal and well-accepted. Others are just starting to get introduced.
A recent Harvard study attempted to shed more light on the healthy habits that can extend one’s lifespan.
While all of the findings focus on positive habits we’re already aware of, researchers have estimated that practicing all of those can increase one’s lifespan by as many as 10 years. Here are the findings and the ways to incorporate such beneficial changes in your everyday life.
If you need yet another reason to quit, the latest Harvard study provides compelling benefits.
Smoking is still the number one cause of preventable deaths in the US. While the rate of smoking has declined significantly since 2005, cigarettes still contribute to more than 480,000 deaths per year. This means that one in five deaths in the United States is tobacco related.
While most people associate smoking with lung problems, it also has a detrimental impact on cardiovascular health.
The good news is that it’s never too late to quit. Even if you do get rid of the addiction later on in life, you can still add a few years to your healthy existence. The researchers who worked on the latest Harvard study also found out that a reduction in the number of cigarettes also contributed to better health. Even if you cannot quick altogether, attempting to minimize smoking and to focus on the other healthy lifestyle habits can prove to be highly beneficial.
Alcohol consumption is also recognized as a relatively unhealthy behavior.
In the latest study, it’s been found out that moderate alcohol consumption is not linked to health problems. In fact, it may be more beneficial than complete abstinence.
Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as five to 15 g/d for women and five to 30 g/d for men. In more general terms, this equates to one drink per day for women (for example – a glass of wine) and two drinks per day for men.
Excessive alcohol intake burdens the body in several key ways. It increases the risk of certain types of cancer, reduces liver health and also has an adverse effect on the functioning of the cardiovascular system.
Moderate consumption is not defined as complete abstinence during the week and binge drinking over the weekend. The one or two drinks per day rule remains valid, whether you’ve consumed any alcohol the previous day or not.
Maintenance of Healthy Weight
While weight has become a controversial topic lately, research consistently proves that being overweight or obese does contribute to health risks and a shorter lifespan.
A healthy body mass index (BMI) falls within the ranges of 18.5 and 24.9. If you’re under, you are underweight and your body is missing the fuel it needs to function properly. If you’re over, you are either overweight or obese.
Excessive weight increases the risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease and type II diabetes.
While issues like metabolic syndrome could make it difficult to lose weight, the reward at the end is a highly stimulating one. Depending on your current weight, attempting to lose about five percent of it on a monthly basis is a solid goal. Don’t try to get rid of too much too fast. If you do, you risk running into problems like yo-yo dieting that aren’t doing anything good for your body or your weight.
Most people see working out as going to the gym but this doesn’t have to be the case.
The latest Harvard study shows that 30 minutes of physical activity per day will be sufficient to increase your lifespan.
These 30 minutes could consist of dancing, a bike ride, a quick walk in the park or climbing stairs. You can swim, roller skate, go on a hike, climb a mountain. Such outdoor activities come with added benefits, especially if you manage to get out of the big city for a little while.
Maintaining such a level of physical activity reduces the risk of developing chronic health problems. Something as simple as a brisk walk every single day is defined as a moderately intense activity that’s good for your heart and your overall health.
Eat a Balanced Diet
The final element needed for a long and healthy life is balanced nutrition. Your body needs diversified foods, minerals and vitamins to function properly. Severe restrictions for the sake of losing weight do not qualify as a balanced diet.
Stick to nutrition-dense foods and meals you cook at home rather than convenience and fast foods. Your meals should feature proteins, vegetables and healthy complex carbs like brown rice or wholegrain bread.
Limiting unhealthy fats, too much salt and sugar are the only restrictions to introduce for the sake of being healthier.
These are the five key changes needed for a longer life. The latest Harvard study found out that people incorporating all five in their lifestyle could add 11.4 years to their life (at the age of 50). The researchers also found out that those who adhered to a healthy lifestyle strictly could add up to 20.5 years to their life expectancy at the age of 50 in comparison to those who didn’t have any of the healthy habits.
While some changes may be difficult to introduce, slow and gradual adjustments will pay off. You don’t have to give up all of your little treats and temptations. You can also have a cheat day that you spend indoor and watch TV. What matters is adopting the mindset of a healthy, more dynamic and active life.
So, go for a walk right now and have a healthy snack of fruits instead of a candy bar. If you find the inner motivation, these changes will be exciting rather than daunting. Set some small milestones and celebrate the accomplishment of each one. When you turn the process into a health celebration, you will be motivated to keep on going.