By 2030, people in many industrialized countries can expect to live to age 85 years or more. While longer life (life expectancy) is due in part to healthcare, important personal lifestyle factors also impact length of life. These include not smoking, being physically active, avoiding excess weight gain, and getting enough sleep. However, until now we did not know if changing lifestyle as we get older really matters, especially for individuals with pre-existing conditions like diabetes.

Improving lifestyle helps middle to old age people live longer

Now researchers from Japan have looked at whether adopting a healthy lifestyle increases the lifespan of individuals from middle to old age, regardless of major health problems at each life stage. They examined 20,373 men and 26,247 women aged 40-80 years and looked at the impact of eight lifestyle factors: consumption of fruit, fish and milk; walking and/or sports participation; body-mass index; smoking; drinking alcohol;  and hours of sleep. Each healthy lifestyle factor scored one point, for a high score of eight points.

As they monitored people’s health over 21 years, researchers found that life expectancy (the age at which you are likely to die) at 40 years for people with 7-8 health lifestyle points was 46.8 years for men and 51.3 years for women. In other words, the healthier one’s lifestyle, the longer one lives. In people with 5 or more lifestyle points, these benefits continued over the age of 80 years or more, particularly in older men. The benefits were even greater in patients of any age with major illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disease.

Improving one’s lifestyle to live longer is important even among older patients and/or those with diabetes and other chronic diseases.


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