A new study shows that people affected by two or more chronic diseases can increase their life expectancy by adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors. This is in agreement with recent data showing that the key to longevity lies in healthy lifestyle changes.

A 2012 report showed that life span could be increased by up to 3.7 years just by modifying one bad habit, such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, improving diet, lowering stress or engaging in physical activity. Some years later, in 2016, the EU and the US Consortium on Health and Aging released a study comparing life expectancy in 50- year olds with favorable vs poor lifestyles. Researchers saw that those who didn’t smoke and were physically active lived between 7 and 15 years longer than those who smoked and were sedentary; in particular, those who remained non-smokers had major benefits in life expectancy. In 2019, different groups of international researchers ascertained that Americans had a shorter life expectancy compared to almost all other high-income countries and analyzed how much poor behaviors affected life expectancy in the US population. The results are consistent with all the previous ones: Adopting a healthier lifestyle and decreasing risk factors associated with alcohol and smoke abuse, led men and women in their fifties to live an average of 13 years more.

Asian old senior workout exercise and doing yoga at home
Non smokers and those who are physically active tend to live longer.

Thus, there seems to be a link between overall improvements in lifestyle and increasing the number of years to live. What has been poorly investigated is the possibility to extend life expectancy in people who are affected by two or more chronic pathologies. This new study closed this gap, collecting information about the age and lifestyle of more than 480,000 British people affected by multimorbidities, across ten years. The word ‘multimorbidity’ refers to being affected by two or more chronic diseases. The people in the study were mostly white men and women between 38 and 73 years old. The researchers considered a total of 36 pathologies, the most common ones across the United Kingdom, including asthma, thyroid problems, anxiety, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, migraine and hypertension. The results validated the correlation between lifestyle habit amelioration and lifespan increase even in people suffering from multiple conditions. However, not all lifestyle factors affected longevity in the same way!  Smoking was the most negative factor of all, reducing life expectancy by 5-6 years compared to non-smokers with multimorbidities. In comparison, those who favored physical activity over a sedentary lifestyle had a lifespan increase of 1 to 2.5 years. Overall,  an active life free of smoke and excessive alcohol, plus a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables allowed men and women to live 6.3 and 7.6 years longer, respectively, despite the presence of multimorbidities.

Smoking reduces life expectancy by 5-6 years, according to recent study.

The results of this study correlate with the 4 factors that have been considered crucial for improving health, according to the United Kingdom National Health Service:

  1. Engaging in physical activity: walking but also swimming, biking, bowling, and home maintenance activities (weeding, lawn mowing, digging) for a total amount of 150 minutes if the activity is mild, and 75 minutes if it’s heavy

  2. Quitting smoking

  3. Consuming 5 servings/day of fruits and vegetables

  4. Reducing alcohol consumption

These are akin to the 5 pillars of health you’re already familiar with! Adopting a healthy lifestyle extends your life and may counterbalance the negative effects of any illnesses you might have.  Tracking your progress can help. Keep count of your consumption of healthy plants and your physical activity with the LIFE Extend app.  You can also use it to see how your biological age changes with the healthier decisions you make in your daily life. You might end up living longer because of it.

The 5 Pillars of LIFE Extend