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Okay, gang, I’ve got a question for you:
If it was possible to buy a pill that would give you an extra 12 to 14 years of life and health, how much would you pay?
Say the pill was a million dollars, which sounds like a total bargain when you consider what you’re getting, would you do anything possible to scrounge up the money and get yourself one?
I’m pretty sure it would be safe to bet most people would answer, YES. They’d do anything they could for that pill and those extra years.
If this mythical pill existed, you’d certainly find me at the front of the line to buy it (well, after getting a loan at the bank). I want to be around to have more adventures, learn more things, and see my loved ones grow & flourish as long as I possibly can!
But alas, there is no longevity pill that gives us another decade of life. It’s simply the stuff of fiction-writers and sci-fi movies.
So now that I’ve depressed you by getting you to contemplate your own mortality, let’s cheer things up a bit:
YOU CAN HAVE 12 TO 14 YEARS MORE WITHOUT PAYING A MILLION DOLLARS!!!
It all comes down to healthy lifestyle habits. There was a study published in Circulation that looked at these 5 healthy habits:
- No smoking
- Keeping a healthy body weight
- Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day
- Moderate alcohol intake (one glass per day max for women/ two glasses max for men)
- Eating a healthy diet
The study found that if you’re following all 5 of these healthy habits when you’re 50, you’re going to live an average of 43.1 years longer for women and 37.6 years for men. But! If you choose to ignore these habits, you’ll live 14 years less for women and 12 years less than that for men.
Not that this is truly surprising to any of us; but it’s nice to see more and more research validating what we already thought we knew about living healthfully. And I’d like to point out, these 5 habits aren’t the ONLY healthy habits, they just happen to be the ones involved in this particular study. I believe that good sleep, stress management, and strong social relationships all play a significant role in longevity, too.
Back to the study, here’s something crazy I learned:
Only 8% of adults in the US are actually adhering to all 5 of these habits (according to one of the study’s co-authors, Dr. Meir Stampfer).
I had no clue the statistics were that low, that just blows my mind…8%!!! Though, when we consider that Americans have a shorter average life expectancy (79.3 years) than almost all other high-income countries, perhaps it makes sense.
So now, back to that first question… “Would you buy a pill to give you more years of life?” Here’s my challenge to you:
Look at these 5 habits as that million dollar pill. In place of forking over cash for those years, you’ll fork over a little effort instead. Start by identifying your biggest weakness of the 5 habits. From there, come up with some goals for how you can create change in that one area. Once you’ve got that one under your belt, move on to the next biggest weakness.
One of my own personal strategies to stay motivated is to continue educating myself on healthy practices. In fact that’s how I came upon this study in the first place, and I encourage you to continue doing your own reading and researching, too. To read more on the study I’ve mentioned here, go to THIS LINK to download the whole thing. It’s pretty fascinating, I hope you will!
A closing thought while I’ve still got your attention:
We would all like more years, and we want those to be healthy years, too. By choosing to follow some simple healthy habits, you’ll significantly increase both your health and your longevity, and it’s hard to put a price tag on that. Here’s hoping you can continue to improve your own healthy practices, and in doing so, you’ll be adding time to your one very precious life. Those 12 to 14 years are available to you – it’s up to you to put in the effort to get them.
As always, I’m rooting for you!