The Rewards of A Healthy Lifestyle
Don’t smoke. Don’t become obese or diabetic. Keep your blood pressure under control. And exercise regularly, about two to four times weekly.
Do all the above and you’ll have a more than 50% chance of living into your 90s. Those are the findings of a newly published 25-year-long study from Harvard University’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.*
In the early 1980s, the researchers began following a group of 2,357 men who at the time were in their early 70s. Forty-one percent of the men lived to be 90 and older.
Those men who in their early 70s did not smoke, weren’t obese, had normal blood pressure, were diabetes-free, and exercised regularly had a 54% chance of living at least another 20 years.
But among men in their early 70s who smoked, were obese, had hypertension and diabetes, and were not physically active, a mere 4% reached age 90.
What’s more, the men with the healthy habits not only enjoyed a longer life; they enjoyed a much better quality of life. Compared to their shorter-lived peers, they had better physical function and better mental well-being, reported lead author Dr. Laurel Yates and colleagues. Nearly 70% rated their late-life health as excellent or very good.
Regular exercise, in particular, was associated with significantly better late-life physical function.
“This study suggests that adherence to sound medical management and lifestyle management pays enormous dividends,” wrote Dr. William J. Hall of the University of Rochester School of Medicine in an editorial accompanying the study.
* Archives of Internal Medicine, 2008; 168 (3): 284.