5 Habits of Longevity

I’ve been struck recently by how incredibly resilient we are on the one hand, yet so fragile on the other. Neuroscientists and doctors are alerting us to the permanent damage caused to children when they are separated from their parents. This certainly has long-term implications for young children raised in single parent homes or the recent federal policy that has separated the young from their parents. And while that is certainly an issue and a challenge for society today, it is not my focus for this Friday musing.

I have come across a significant research study whose findings were recently published in Circulation. This study looked at data from over 123,000 men and women collected over 34 years. The results were hopeful….and I felt we likely all needed a bit of hope during these uncertain days.

The study looked at 5 behaviors, not smoking, regular exercise, healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption and the maintenance of normal weight. The scientists calculated that on average, a 50- year old man who adopted all of these practices would live 12 years longer than a man who took on none. The findings were even more striking when it came to women. Women who embraced these 5 behaviors would live an incredible 14 years longer than someone who did none.

Not surprising, if someone practiced only a few of the 5 behaviors, their longevity reflected this as well. For instance, a 50 year old woman with 4 health factors could expect to live on average to 89, those with 3, 87 and those with just 2, 84.

Less than 2% of the population studied practiced all 5 low risk habits and a third had only 2 or fewer.

We often talk in PathNorth about living a holistic life, where body, mind and spirit are in harmony. Research continues to underscore the value of this approach to living.