London, July 21 (IANS) Want to add years to your life? People who quit smoking, reduce weight and refrain from heavy alcohol intake are likely to live seven years longer in good health than the general population, a study has showed.
The findings showed that people who never smoked and were not obese lived four-five years longer than the general population, and these extra years were free of disability.
Further, individuals who also consumed alcohol moderately lived seven more disability-free years than the general population, and had an increased total life expectancy.
“The study showed that a healthy lifestyle, which costs nothing, is enough to enable individuals to enjoy a very long and healthy life,” said Mikko Myrskyla, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock, Germany.
In addition, men who were not overweight, had never smoked, and drank moderately were found to live an average of 11 years longer than men who were overweight, had smoked, and drank excessively.
For women, the gap between these two groups was found to be even greater, at 12 years, the researchers said in the paper published in the journal Health Affairs.
“A moderately healthy lifestyle is enough to get the benefits. Avoiding becoming obese, not smoking, and consuming alcohol moderately is not an unrealistic goal,” he added.
“Our results show how important it is to focus on prevention. Those who avoid risky health behaviours are achieving very long and healthy lives. Effective policy interventions targeting health behaviours could help larger fractions of the population to achieve the health benefits observed in this study,” the researcher emphasised.
For the study, the team used data of more than 14,000 individuals aged 50-89.
The researchers analysed the ages at which the individuals with these healthy behaviours first became disabled, how many years they lived with disability, and their total life expectancy.