Fourteen years is about 5,100 days. What is that concept? Talk to your friends all night, spend a whole day with your family, go out for a month… . 5100 days, you can do many things long for. According to a new study, you can do as much as you want to keep healthy well into your 50s.
After 34 years of big data from 123,000 subjects at Harvard University, combined with the results of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and previous cause-death statistics, they have come up with a “key to longevity” that anyone can hold:
- Need to exercise
Moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, such as brisk walking.
- Healthy eating
A balanced diet (the team measured the health of the participants with a questionnaire, and the top 40% were classified as “eating well”).
- The amount of weight
The body mass index (BMI) is maintained between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m square.
- Shallow pour wine
A maximum of 1 glass of wine per day for women and 2 glasses of wine per day for men (a glass is about 150cc). Editor’s note: Nearly half of Taiwanese have alcohol intolerance and the upper limit is likely to be lower.
- Don’t smoke
Even smoking one cigarette a day raises the risk.
These issues may seem cliched, but with scientific evidence to back them up, they are more likely to motivate people to adopt good habits.
Women who did none of these things lived an average of 29 years after age 50, compared with 43.1 years for those who did all five, adding 14 years to their life expectancy. Men, on the other hand, improved from 25.5 to 37.6 years, or 12.2 years, after age 50. And the report found that with each additional task, the risk of premature death went down one level, equivalent to a jump in life expectancy.
Over the study’s follow-up period, those who had five good habits had a 74 percent lower risk of early death than those who didn’t. If you just practice three of them, you can cut your risk by more than half.
The team goes on to point out that the two biggest killers of many Americans who live short lives and spend large sums of money on medicine are cardiovascular problems and cancer, “most of which are preventable!… but [the United States] spends most of its money and resources on developing new drugs and treating diseases rather than preventing them.” The analysis showed that doing so reduced the risk of dying from cancer by 65 per cent and the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 82 per cent (see chart).
There have been mountains of studies in the past telling people not to eat this and not to do that, delving into “risk factors”; The Harvard team reports in the journal Circulation that it is the first large study to try to estimate the health-promoting effects of “positive behavior.”
Even the authors admit to being surprised that the secret to a long life is so simple. Meir Stampfer, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard and a member of the team, said: “What struck me was the strength of the conclusion: simple actions have such a dramatic effect on longevity.”
Stampfer notes that it’s never too late to start putting the numbers into practice. “Obviously, it’s much better to start doing these healthy behaviors from childhood, but if you’re over 50, 60, or even 70, it’s not too late,” he says.
The big environment is also a driving force for people to live well and for a long time
Frank Hu, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, said that in the United States, “[the percentage] of healthy lifestyle practices is very small.” Stampfer adds that only 8 percent of the country’s population does so. Mr Hu called for public policies to support and promote healthy eating and living habits by encouraging the production of healthy food and building a better urban and social environment.
The five keys to a long life provide the direction for the general public who want to live a long and good life. This experience of “treatment is more important than prevention” is also a wake-up call for Taiwan, which spends 500 to 600 billion yuan annually on health insurance to cure diseases and spends relatively little money on prevention.