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Health Team

4 Healthy Habits = 14 More Years to Live

Posted January 21, 2008

Scientists say they have found four keys to a longer life – or at least four healthy habits that can add more than a decade to a person's life.

Researchers tracked the lives of 20,000 people and found that those who practiced those habits lived an average of 14 years longer. Those findings of the study were recently published in the Public Library Science Medical Journal.

"For people who are not doing this, just a little bit of change will go a long way," Tara Miller, a registered dietitian, said.

Scientists identified the four common factors in the lifestyles of the long-lived study participants as:

  • Not smoking.
  • Eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Drinking alcohol only in moderation.

These healthy habits are not necessarily hard to pick up, but even practicing one of them can make a big difference, researchers said.

"You don't have to be a marathon runner in order to get the benefits of exercise," Miller said. "You don't have to be a strict vegetarian in order to reap the rewards of eating five fruits and vegetables a day.

"You just have to make small, incremental changes, and you will see a big effect by this."

Charles Hendrick said that although he already lives that kind of lifestyle, the news that it could add more than a decade to his lifespan was  encouraging.

"I do really watch what I eat. I exercise every other day," Hendrick said. "It's good to know that some of the habits I've accumulated through the years are, I guess, confirmed to help people live a greater quality of life and longer."

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  • seeingthru Jan 23, 2008

    my husband family live to be 98 and I can tell you I would not want to live in that 98 yr old body its horrible

  • james004 Jan 23, 2008

    US Census and health tracking data has said for years that the South has the highest concentration of overweight Americans. Also, the South and Midwest has the highest concentration of smokers. As far as drinking, that's widespread everywhere, but the South does lead in average number of drinks per week per person or something like that. Go look up the statistics.

    An FBI crime statistic does show that the South has the 2nd highest rate of DWI however, followed by the Western part of the country. So I'd have to argue with the "responsible drinkers" in the South comment and you made earlier.

  • wolfpackfan15 Jan 22, 2008

    something we should all try to do, even though it might be hard to accomplish considering the society that we live in. but I will definitely be willing to give it a TRY! afterall, who doesn't want to live longer...?!

  • oldrebel Jan 22, 2008

    Where you live in the US as well as who you are makes all the difference in the world as to how long you may expect to live. Asian Americans can expect to live the longest with an age of 85 to look forward to while native Americans have the lowest at only 58, 27 full years less than the Asian subgroup.Low-income whites living in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa, Montana and Nebraska, come in second as a group with an average life expectancy of 79. the bulk of the population, have an average life expectancy of 78. Next, in rank order, come poor whites in Appalachia and the Mississippi Valley with an average life expectancy of 75, Western Native Americans, who live to an average of 73, and black middle America, also 73. Low-income Southern rural blacks and high-risk urban blacks, live to 71.Interesting is the differences between the District of columbia and Hawaii, with DC looking at 72 and residents of the Aloha state looking way on out to 80. Must be the ocean breezes and little umbrellas.

  • Rocknhorse Jan 22, 2008

    "Maybe that's why the South has the lowest average life span of anywhere in the USA. The smoking and drinking rate is higher than average, people are more overweight, and the "gym" craze only hit here 10 years ago when it was popular in the West and North for decades."

    WOW! Where did you live? I was born here, but grew up in Rhode Island. My grandmother is 98 and still going strong. My other grandmother lived well into her 90s. My husband's grandparents also achieved well above the average age. Wanna talk about drinking? I saw plenty of drinkers up north, many less responsible than here, so I'll argue that statement with you. Southerners more overweight? Wrong again-at least in the area of New England where I grew up. Slender was considered gaunt. Why did the gym craze only hit within the past 10 years? Perhaps b/c before then, many people down here enjoyed outdoor activities and/or worked hard, laborious jobs and didn't need treadmills for their physical activity.

  • CestLaVie Jan 22, 2008

    When I was in my 20's, 30's, & 40's, I wanted to be old and feisty.

    But with today's violence, hatred, stupidity & meanness running rampant in the whole world, I'm changing my thinking about this.

    Look at the story today alone of the 94-year-old murdered & his hand cut off. What a crying shame! I'm sure he must have done something right to live that long, to begin with - but for that horrendous way to die??

    I think of my father who lived to 94 - if he had died such a violent death, I'd be heartbroken. He, too, ate well & walked daily, didn't smoke & drank little. His life is a shining example to me & I try to follow his footsteps.

    Now I can see following these guidelines if for no other reason than to avoid high medical bills and care in old age. That's a goal; living to be 100 & enjoying it is questionable!

  • houndie Jan 22, 2008

    You hear many people say they want to live to be 100. Well, I work in healthcare and there are not a lot of things you can do when you are 100! So...enjoy the "good" years while you still have them.

  • james004 Jan 22, 2008

    Maybe that's why the South has the lowest average life span of anywhere in the USA. The smoking and drinking rate is higher than average, people are more overweight, and the "gym" craze only hit here 10 years ago when it was popular in the West and North for decades.

  • justmark Jan 21, 2008

    They left off these things to avoid as well... freak accidents....psycho people randomly shooting you in the mall or other public places...being hit by drunk driver...Staying away from those could also lead to a happier, healthier you!!..LMAO!!!