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Exercise and other lifestyle habits that may add over 10 years to your life

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Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining the right body weight, not drinking too much alcohol, and not smoking during adulthood may add over a decade to the life expectancy of a person, a US study claims.

Researchers led by Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health also found that US women and men who maintained the healthiest lifestyles were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer when compared with those with the least healthy lifestyles over the course of the roughly 30-year study period.

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The study published in the journal Circulation is the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of adopting low-risk lifestyle factors on life expectancy in the US. Researchers analysed 34 years of data from 78,865 women and 27 years of data from 44,354 men.

They looked at how five low-risk lifestyle factors – not smoking, low body mass index (18.5-24.9 kilogramme per square metre), 30 minutes or more per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, moderate alcohol intake (up to one glass of wine per day for women, or two glasses for men), and a healthy diet – might impact mortality.

For study participants who did not adopt any of the low-risk lifestyle factors, the researchers estimated that life expectancy at age 50 was 29 years for women and 25.5 years for men.

However, for those who adopted all five low-risk factors, life expectancy at age 50 was projected to be 43.1 years for women and 37.6 years for men, researchers said.

Women who maintained all five healthy habits gained, on average, 14 years of life, and men who did so gained 12 years, compared with those who did not maintain healthy habits, they said.

Compared with those who did not follow any of the healthy lifestyle habits, those who followed all five were 74% less likely to die during the study period.

The researchers also found that there was a dose-response relationship between each individual healthy lifestyle behaviour and a reduced risk of early death.

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