A new study on increasing lifespan was presented this week at Nutrition 2023, the flagship annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Boston.

Researchers discovered that by adopting just eight healthy lifestyle choices by age 40, you can live 23 years longer in you’re a woman and 24 if you’re a man, compared to those who adopt none of the habits.

Don’t worry though; a change at any age may impact positively on your lifespan. According to the data, a 60-year-old who adopts all eight healthy habits could expect to see around 20 years’ gain, and an 80-year-old around 10 years. A 40-year-old with just four of the healthy habits saw about a 10-year increase in life expectancy, and an 80-year-old around five years.

The new, unpublished study analyzed the lifestyle behaviour data of nearly 720,000 U.S. military vets between the ages of 40 and 99. The study could only show an association, not a direct cause and effect. Additionally, the study focused on US veterans, so the findings may not translate precisely to the general Canadian population.

At The Health Insider we feel the findings are sensible and may simply confirm what many have suspected about the power of lifestyle medicine. Ramping up healthy habits and decreasing unhealthy ones seems to lead to a (much) longer lifespan.

Eight Healthy Habits for Longevity

According to the study, both women and men saw significant gains in lifespan by adopting 8 healthy habits identified in the report.

Many experts say this is one of the most important behaviours anyone can do to improve their health. Experts say about an hour of movement – light, moderate or vigorous activities are all better than just sitting on the couch.

1. Exercise

Many experts say this is one of the most important behaviours anyone can do to improve their health. Experts say about an hour of movement – light, moderate or vigorous activities are all better than just sitting on the couch.

2. Not becoming addicted to opioids

Not becoming addicted to opioids was the second most important contributor to a longer life. With Canada in the midst of an opioid crisis that has touched many families, this is an important point to pay attention to.

3. Never using tobacco

Never using tobacco reduced risk of death by 29 per cent, the study found. However, stopping smoking at any point in life confers major health benefits, experts say.

4. Managing Stress

Managing stress reduced early death by 22 per cent, the study found.

5. Eating a plant-based diet

Eating a plant-based diet may raise your chances of living a longer life by 21 per cent, the study found. This does not suggest you need to go fully vegetarian or vegan. Try to follow a healthy plant-based plan such as the Mediterranean diet and incorporate whole grains and leafy green vegetables daily if possible.

6. Avoid binge drinking

In fact, alcohol has gotten a very bad rap in Canada as of late. In 2023, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released guidelines stating that no amount of alcohol was safe.

7. Sleep

Getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night reduced early death from any cause by 18 per cent, according to study authors. Numerous studies have linked poor sleep to a variety of poor health outcomes.

8. Positive Relationships

Being surrounded by positive social relationships helped longevity by 5 per cent, the study found.

If this all sounds overwhelming, fear not. While adopting all eight habits by age 40 is ideal, adopting even one—or a few—at any point in life helps.

If you start making incremental changes today, you can make a huge difference. Every change has a synergistic effect. The more changes you make, the more you will want to make.

Let us know how you’re doing with your health journey on our social media channels, we’d love to feature you if you’ve made a positive change to your life!

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