According to a recent study, adhering to a healthy lifestyle is directly associated with a longer life expectancy free from major chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. The study’s results are extremely noteworthy, because they show how just how important it is to live healthily in the present in order to benefit hugely in the future.
This study actually first began in 1976. Researchers selected more than 121,000 female nurses between the ages of 30 and 55-years-old and gathered important lifestyle and medical information. Just years later, over 143,000 additional men and women were selected for participation – and over the next few decades, researchers conducted routine follow-ups to accumulate even more information. The average life expectancy around the globe has been steadily increasing over the years. In the United States for example, the average life expectancy is 78.69 years; only twenty years ago, it was 76.64 years of age. Researchers have long known that healthy lifestyle choices lead to longer life, but only recently have they been able to confirm what some of the exact medical benefits are.
Despite the increase of the average life expectancy, many people live with disabling chronic diseases that affect their quality of life. These conditions also result in an overall loss in life ranging from 7.5 to 20 years, depending on what condition(s) a person has and what treatment methods are (or are not) used. There is good news, though: making modifiable lifestyle changes lead to far better chances for living a longer – and healthier – life. Some of these modifiable lifestyle changes include:
In fact, research has shown that inactivity, smoking, poor diet quality, and heavy alcohol consumption contribute to somewhere between 7.4 and 17.9 years lost in life expectancy – and also play a part in up to 60% of total premature deaths.
Chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease cause a variety of medical complications and problems. They can also be fatal. Individuals with cancer often experience symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, brain and nervous system problems, general pain, nausea, and diarrhea. Some of the most common complications associated with cardiovascular disease include heart failure, stroke, heart attack, aneurysm, and peripheral artery disease, and people with diabetes are prone to experiencing:
Researchers found that women who observed four or five low risk lifestyle factors (e.g. optimal diet, ideal body weight, not heavy alcohol consumption, non-smokers, etc.) had 10.6 years of longer life expectancy free from major chronic diseases than women with zero low risk lifestyle factors. For men with four or five low risk lifestyle factors, there was an observed increase of approximately 7.6 years of life free from major chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular disease. Put simply, the medical benefits people accrue from adhering to low risk lifestyle choices are huge.
It is ideal to begin making healthy lifestyle choices as early on as possible – but it is also never too late to make lifesaving changes that can help improve a person’s overall quality of life. Starting to adhere to low risk lifestyle factors like not smoking cigarettes, eating a healthy diet, maintaining an optimal weight, being physically active, and avoiding high rates of alcohol consumption in your 30s is one of the best ways to avoid developing chronic conditions that are known to decrease someone’s life expectancy. If you want to start making healthy lifestyle changes, consult a doctor who can help you come up with a safe plan. If you have any additional questions, contact a representative at our firm directly.
With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.