Live up to Six More Years by staying Physically Active and Socially Involved

credit: National Cancer Institute PD

(Best Syndication News ) - Making healthy lifestyle choices in old age can increase lifespan by up to six years for men and up to five more years for women, according to a Swedish study published in the online edition of BMJ. Healthy lifestyle choices include not smoking, eating right, staying physically active, and staying socially.

The researchers wanted to see if having healthy habits were just as important after a person turns 75. They wanted to see if there was an extension on a person's lifespan.

To investigate, the researchers studied 1,800 participants that were tracked from 1987 to 2005. Over the 18-year period, the participants were documented for their age, sex, occupation, education, lifestyle habits, what they did in their leisure time, and their socializing network.

Ninety-two percent of the participants were dead at the follow-up period of the survey. Around half of the participants lived to be over 90 years old. The ones that did survive for the follow-up period were more often women that were highly educated. These women also tended to have healthy lifestyle habits and a good social network of friends and family. They tended to take part in more leisure time activities compared to those who died.

The researchers found that smokers died an average of one year sooner than non-smokers did. Those smokers who quit had a trend that looked more like the people who never smoked. The researchers said that quitting smoking in midlife could be beneficial for increasing lifespans.

Even more important for surviving was physical fitness, which was grouped in with the leisure activities. The study participants who swam, walked, or did gymnastics regularly lived around two years more than those who did not keep physically active.

The researchers found that those participants who had done the healthy lifestyle and behaviors lived an average of 5.4 years more than those who lived the unhealthy way – no leisure time activities, and very little or no social network.

Participants over 85 years of age with chronic health conditions also benefited from healthy lifestyle habits. They lived four years more compared to those who had lived the unhealthy way.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Reporter

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