5 Healthy Habits to Add 12 to 14 Years to Your Life

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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:




It all comes down to healthy lifestyle habits. There was a study published in Circulation that looked at these 5 healthy habits:

  1.  No smoking
  2.  Keeping a healthy body weight
  3.  Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day
  4.  Moderate alcohol intake (one glass per day max for women/ two glasses max for men)
  5.  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!




After 15 years as an educator in both the public K-12 setting and the University level in Special Physical Education, Stef made the leap to her true passion… the fitness world. She’s currently a personal trainer and wellness coach specializing in seniors, medical conditions, and injuries. Stef loves running, cycling, and being “Mugga” to her two favorite mini-humans — Punky and Marshmallow. ❤️

    12 thoughts on “5 Healthy Habits to Add 12 to 14 Years to Your Life

    1. Robert J. Riegler

      Wonderful post. Many Thanks! This past February after planning our cross-country RV trip(after 36 years of full time/full stress employment) I was miss diagnosed with congestive heart failure~~no cure. The very longest nite of my life. I had thought I was in fairly good shape fast walking an hour each day or swimming laps for the same time. Thankful for me(and my way better half) we received a 2nd opinion and all is well~~~for now with the 5 points you highlighted. Yes, it starts with getting up and out! Thanks so much for all your posts!

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Wow, Robert, that must have been a pretty terrifying experience… and such a relief to learn it was misdiagnosed! Thanks for your nice comment, and here’s hoping you stay healthy and never hear that diagnosis again. xoxo

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Nope we aren’t…. but! I haven’t eaten any meats besides poultry and fish since May 1995. 🙂

    2. Rick O.

      Chronic stress will rob years and health too. The five you mentioned help reduce stress, but some “type-A’s” will focus on them yet never manage their stress effectively. Getting adequate sleep is a another major need, as it helps your body process nutrients while resting, which repairs you physically, mentally and emotionally.

    3. Steve

      Thanks for posting this! The first one is not a problem for me. The other 4 have all been goals for me, with varying degrees of success. But I’m saving this article and will refer to it daily. I will convert these goals to reality!

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Committing to it is the first step; good for you! Because after all… 12 YEARS!!! xoxo

    4. Steve

      Thanks for the motivation. At the YMCA gym now! Any suggestions for a good exercise for stenosis lower back to do on the road?

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Planks! They work to stabilize isometrically, so no flexion/extension of the spine…more protective that way. And good for you for hitting the Y! Keep it up, Steve!

    5. Willie

      And don’t forget…..wear your seatbelt and put on the brain bucket when you ride your bike or motorcycle.

      Tramatic brain injuries are life altering, if not deadly.


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