It’s not rocket science: Take care of yourself and you will live longer

A study just published online in the BMJ (or should that be “by” the BMJ, or maybe even “on” the BMJ; whatever) analyzed data from the many long-years of the fabulous Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the equally fabulous Health Professionals Follow-up Study (the former is composed of only women, the latter only men but we have come a long way since then in naming studies, I would hope), and concluded as anyone with even a few functioning brain cells would that if you live a healthy lifestyle, you are likely to have more disease-free years ahead of you than does someone who doesn’t follow a healthy living regime.

Specifically, based on 34 years’ worth of data from the NHS and 28 years from the HPFS, the researchers looked at the effect on the rates chronic diseases from five healthy habits: smoking, a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and drinking only moderate amounts of alcohol at most.

And no shock, I’m sure: women who followed at least 4 of those 5 healthy habits at age 50 got on average 34.4 more years of healthy living as a present, that is, a life free from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, while women who followed none of those healthy habits only had 23.7 more years of disease-free living left.

For men, the numbers were slightly less positive: 31.1 disease-free years to the healthiest guys, 23.5 to those who did none of the things they know they should have done and now that they’re older and wise, I’m sure they regret not having done them.

The worst lifestyle factors?

For men, smoking; for women, being obese.

No Nobel prize here: If you want to lower your risk of chronic illness as you get older, start paying attention to all those things I consistently natter you about.

You will eventually thank me for this, even if I won’t be around to hear your thanks.