Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Simple Lifestyle Changes Extend Lives

Perhaps hardly surprising but a study of 20,000 Britons found that four simple lifestyle habits potentially extended life by 14 years. The group that decreased their chance of death simply didn't smoke, had five servings of fruits and vegetables, exercised regularly, and drank alcohol in moderation.

  • The study included healthy adults aged 45 to 79. Participants filled in a health questionnaire between 1993 and 1997 and nurses conducted a medical exam at a clinic. Participants scored a point each for not smoking, regular physical activity, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and moderate alcohol intake.
  • Until 2006, the researchers tracked deaths from all causes, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and respiratory diseases. People who scored four points were four times less likely to die than those who scored zero, the research showed.
Simple small changes made a big difference. If five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is too hard, start with more humble goals, perhaps two servings twice a week and build up to the goal of five servings everyday.

Why don't people adopt these practices? Maybe because the things that make the most sense often aren't particularly exciting or sexy, but require a little common sense, a little bit of work to make it happen, and then persistence to make it a healthy habit.

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