How Many Years Could You Add to Your Life?
Science says that if you follow 7 habits, you will lengthen your life. So say British researchers who studied over 600,000 patients’ histories to find out the precise amount of time good habits can add to your life.
Although each of us is given an allotted time to live our lives, it never seems to be enough. Since the beginning of time, humankind has been trying to lengthen their lives. We have forever been searching for the fountain of youth. And it seems we’re getting closer. Scientists in the UK are now saying that they have calculated precisely how much longer our lives can be, if we adopt a few healthy life habits.
It’s actually quite striking that there is now certain evidence to confirm that specific habits impact our lives to such an extent as to make them longer. Even though most of these habits are not new, there is now statistical and quantifiable proof that they are powerfully effective.
British scientists examined the health records of over 600,000 subjects, correlating their life expectancies and projected longevity to their genetic information and health habits, linking each of the test subjects’ records with their parents’ records.
These findings were published in an article, “Genome-Wide Meta-Analysis Associates HLA-DQA1/DRB1 and LPA and Lifestyle Factors with Human Longevity” in the Journal Nature Communications. Previously, the same subjects had been in studies in over 25 projects in North America, Australia, Europe, and the UK Biobank which studies the impacts of lifestyle choices and genetics on health.
Co-author of the study, Jim Wilson, who is a professor at the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and informatics said,
“The power of big data and genetics allow us to compare the effect of different behaviors and diseases in terms of months and years of life lost or gained, and to distinguish between mere association and causal effect.”
Are you curious to know what the habits are? You’ll find seven of them below, along with a bonus taken from an earlier study.
- Not Indulging in Cigarette Smoking
Nonsmokers are ahead of the curve. If you smoke, try to become an “un-smoker”, the sooner the better. Smoking is the number one behavior that negatively influences your health. Understandably, smoking leads to a higher incidence of lung cancer as compared to nonsmokers.
There is a very specific life expectancy difference. On average, “smoking a pack a day reduces lifespan by seven years,” remarked Peter Joshi. Peter is one of the study’s co-authors, and a chancellor’s fellow at the Usher Institute.
- Lowering Cholesterol if
There is a gene that affects the level of one’s blood cholesterol. Scientists have examined the presence of this gene in their test subjects. Those who have the gene had about eight months’ reduction in their life spans. Although there is no way to control the gene, you do have control over your diet which can affect your cholesterol level.
- Losing Excess Body-Weight
When the scientists took a look at those subjects who had been overweight and who had also altered their lifestyle to lose weight, specific results emerged. In effect, there was a two-month’s increase of life- span for every kilo (2.2 lb.) that the subject had lost. So, how long have you been talking about losing those stubborn pounds? By focusing on making a few adjustments, you could add a year to your life by reducing your weight by 20 pounds or so.
- Quitting Cigarette Smoking
The more you smoke, the more years you deprive yourself of your life. So, if your life is important to you and you want to be around to see your grandchildren graduate, here is some top-notch advice for you. If you’re a smoker, no doubt you’ve heard it all and everyone around you has probably quit trying to get you to quit. But this might be some good news for you. Researchers are saying that there is a point at which a smoker can quit that is long enough to be able to offset those lost years and to even regain the lifespan of a person who has never smoked.
- Being Broad-Minded and Interested in Experiencing New Things
Call it being young at heart. It’s a state of mind. And, although it’s possibly the least measurable habit studied by the researchers, those subjects that exhibited “a personality trait reflecting curiosity vs. caution”, according to the study, added years to their lives. (According to the study authors, this information on whether or not the subjects were curious or cautious was based on the results of self-reported data from a questionnaire.)
- Getting More Educated
This information should encourage lifelong learning. Test subjects added 11 months to their lives for every year they spent studying beyond secondary school. The reasoning behind this is still not known. Whether longevity is influenced by the higher learning itself or whether educated people and people with more education are less likely to spend their time in unhealthy behavior –like smoking for example– still remains a question.
- Lowering Your Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the second biggest impact on longevity. Right after smoking, systolic blood pressure was what the researchers found causes the highest impact on the length of our lives. High blood pressure has “causal life-shortening effects” of an average of 5.2 years. Since blood pressure control has to do with diet, exercise, and even medication at times, there are several habits that can be applied to this situation.
(Bonus Addition) Being Physically Active
The daily physical activity of 5,823 adults was examined by researchers at Brigham Young University in a separate study.The researchers discovered that the subjects who were physically active for 30 to 40 minutes of fast walking or jogging five times a week actually became younger. At the cellular level, their cells had an average telomere length of people nine years younger than them.In effect these adults walked themselves almost a decade younger.
By combining these habits, the effects are bound to be encouraging. The results of the test subjects should provide some extra motivation for those who want to lengthen their lives on this planet.