A recent study by BMJ suggests women can gain 10 years and men 7 years life free of cancer, heart problems and type-2 diabetes from a healthy lifestyle.
Regular exercise, drinking in moderation, maintaining a healthy weight, a good diet and not smoking is a must.
This US research is based on 111,000 individuals over a 20 year period.
Dr Frank Hu, Lead author at Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston, said the study had “a positive message for the public”.
“They gain not just more years of life but good years through improved lifestyle choices.”
What is a healthy lifestyle?
At the age of 50, study participants were asked if they met at least four of these five criteria:
- never smoking
- a healthy, balanced diet
- 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity every day
- a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9
- no more alcohol than a small glass of wine a day for women and a pint of beer for men
Women who said they met four out of five lived an average of another 34 years free of cancer, cardiovascular disease (such as heart attack and stroke) and type-2 diabetes – more than 10 years longer than those who did not.
For healthy men, it meant another 31 years of disease-free life – more than seven years extra than unhealthy men could expect.
Not only did a healthy lifestyle reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes, it also improved survival if men and women were diagnosed with any of the diseases.
“The benefits add up for men and women,” Dr Hu said.