The science is real: how long you live is actually more related to your lifestyle than your genetics, researchers say.
Although some people are genetically predisposed to conditions like cancer and heart disease which contribute to a lowered life expectancy, these factors are not always a death-wish. Despite the impact of genetics on declining health, lifestyle variants contribute even more to assumed life-span. According to a family study which assessed the differences in genome among siblings and compared it to their respective lifespans, it was concluded that only 20-30% of variation in lifespan is contributed to by genetic factors. The other 70-80% is determined by lifestyle.
With more research focused on prevention, we are given more insight into more effective ways to enhance the way our body functions. With these tokens of knowledge, we may be able to have an actual impact on how long our longevity. In fact, the three countries with the highest life expectancies according to the World Health Organization – Japan, Switzerland, and Singapore – are notorious for living lifestyles which align with lifespan-related research. There may be no real “fountain of youth,” but there are certain things you can do that may greatly impact your aptitude to enjoy a long, healthy, & happy life.
According to a study from Harvard University called “Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population” (2018), researchers found a correlation between “healthy” lifestyles and a lower mortality rate. Notably, participants in this 34-year-long study adhered to the 5 specific low-risk lifestyle traits, below, resulting in an increased life expectancy at age 50 by 12-14 years in comparison to those who did not engage in these low-risk lifestyles.
1. Moderate-vigorous physical activity
Regular engagement in physical activity has an arsenal of proven benefits, so it’s no shock that this would be one of the key factors in ensuring longevity. From its key role in the stimulation of muscles to its ability to reduce the risk of chronic disease, hitting the gym is absolutely a great way to keep healthy. Plus, it keeps your skin looking young and your organs working strong; what’s not to love?
2. Never smoking
Smoking tobacco has been shown to decrease the function of the lungs and increases risk of many cancers. Thus, staying away from this substance is your best bet to avoid such hardships.
3. High diet quality
“High diet quality” in the study was defined by the frequency which people consumed certain foods, including fruits and vegetables, but also included the use of things like multivitamins
4. Moderate alcohol intake at most
When consumed in moderation, alcohol can reap many health benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Some alcohols, like red wine, even have antioxidant properties. However, binge drinking alcohol can deteriorate the skin, increase weight, damage vital organs and more.
5. Keeping one’s Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9
The acquisition and maintenance of a healthy Body Mass Index (between 18.5 and 24.9) can be achieved through some of the aforementioned low-risk lifestyle traits and is arguably the most important one of all. Having a healthy BMI reduces the risk of diseases, increases energy, relieves joint tension, increases self-esteem, and overall supports general welfare.