As important as practicing healthy habits is, discontinuing (or better yet never starting) poor health habits can add years to your life–twelve to be exact; this according to the findings of a recent study. Let’s see, twelve years ago I was…DANG that’s a long time! Check it:
The study tracked nearly 5,000 British adults for 20 years, and looked at the following four bad health habits:
- drinking too much
- poor diet
Researchers found that people partaking in these habits had a substantially increased risk of death, and they seemed 12 years older than people in the healthiest group. Doh!
Of the research subjects having all four habits (314 people), 29% died through the study period. The subjects having none of the habits (394), only 8% had died. The people involved in the study were adults aged 18 and older, but 44 years old on average. The most common cause of death among subjects was heart disease and cancer, both caused by the unhealthy habits studied.
The healthiest group included never-smokers and those who had quit; teetotalers, women who had fewer than two drinks daily and men who had fewer than three; those who got at least two hours of physical activity weekly; and those who ate fruits and vegetables at least three times per day.
“You don’t need to be extreme” to be in the healthy category, said lead researcher Elisabeth Kvaavik of the University of Oslo. “These behaviors add up, so together it’s quite good. It should be possible for most people to manage to do it.”
Tis true. It is one of the major premises in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health. Healthy habits are cumulative. Start slowly and add habits one by one. For example, start with bodywork, like chiropractic care, and get out of pain. Once pain starts to subside, start exercising. Cut out sodas next. Then start eating more fruits and vegetables, and so on. It doesn’t have to all be done at once. Pick up a few healthy habits, then go for the more challenging ones, like quitting smoking or drinking or mainlining speed. Having a foundation of a handful of healthy habits will get you through a lot easier than trying to kick a habit cold turkey with nothing to fill the void.
By reducing faulty health habits you could add twelve years to your life–no small amount once you start getting up there. Add to that a few healthy habits and woo-boy you might even tack on another twelve. Think of that. What will you do with the time?