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Want to live up to an additional 24 years? Just add eight healthy lifestyle choices to your life at age 40 and that could happen, according to a new unpublished study analyzing data on US veterans.
Starting at age 50 instead? No problem, you could prolong your life by up to 21 years, the study found. Age 60? You’ll still gain nearly 18 years if you adopt all eight healthy habits.
“There’s a 20-year period in which you can make these changes, whether you do it gradually or all at once,“ said lead study author Xuan-Mai Nguyen, a health science specialist for the Million Veteran Program at the VA Boston Healthcare System.
“We also did an analysis to see if we eliminated people with type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke, cancer and the like, does it change the outcome? And it really didn’t,” she said. “So, if you start off with chronic diseases, making changes does still help.”
What are these magical healthy habits? Nothing you haven’t heard before: Exercise, eat a healthy diet, reduce stress, sleep well and foster positive social relationships. On the flip side, don’t smoke, don’t drink too much and don’t become addicted to opioids.
“The earlier the better, but even if you only make a small change in your 40s, 50s or 60s, it still is beneficial,” Nguyen said. “This is not out of reach — this is actually something attainable for the general population.”
The study, presented Monday at Nutrition 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, looked at the lifestyle behaviors of nearly 720,000 military veterans between