Up to 14 years for women and 12 for men
Scientists have been saying for years that we can add years to our life just by making changes in our lifestyle and habits.
That conclusion has recently been validated by a Harvard University study that found that by making just five changes in your daily routine, you can increase your life expectancy by an average of 14 years if you’re a woman and 12 if you’re a man.
The study, which lasted 34 years and had more than 100,000 participants, found that the five main factors for a long life are:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Keeping a healthy weight
- No smoking
- Not drinking too much alcohol
Each of these five factors has to do with our behavior and the decisions we make every day.
This is important because according to the National Institutes of Health, your lifestyle can outweigh the genes you inherited from your family. Researchers have found that our genes are only a third of the equation of how much we are going to live; the other two thirds are tied to lifestyle.
Therefore, if conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure or diseases like cancer are present in the family, there are specific steps that can be taken to fight that “factory programming”.
What if I cannot follow them all?
Changing behaviors is not easy. So instead of trying to bite more than we can chew, it may be more effective and realistic to choose two of the five factors first. For example, if you are overweight, your best strategy is probably to work on eating healthier and adding physical activity into your daily routine.
Now, if you are a smoker, quitting tobacco is the most important thing you can do for your health. A good strategy to manage your stress is to exercise, something that can also help you avoid gaining weight when you stop smoking.
Physical activity, according to the National Institutes of Health, is a priority because it not only helps us to live longer, but also to live better: preventing physical illnesses, maintaining a strong body, balance and coordination, and improving our mental and emotional health.