While a number of studies have shown associations between individual lifestyle factors and a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers, few studies have investigated how a combination of lifestyle factors might influence mortality.
A large-scale study from the Harvard School of Public Health now shows that women who chose a combination of healthy lifestyle factors had a dramatically lower risk of dying from all causes during the two-and-a-half decades of the study. Their risk reduction surpassed that of following any single healthy factor alone.
The lifestyle factors for healthy aging included:
- Not smoking
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Partaking in regular physical activity and
- Maintaining a healthy diet
In the study, researchers analyzed data from 77,782 women and their responses to questionnaires about lifestyle and health conditions over a 24-year period, beginning in 1980. During the follow-up, 8,882 deaths were recorded, including 1,790 from cardiovascular disease, and 4,527 from cancer.
They estimated that 55% of deaths from all causes, 44% of cancer mortality, and 72% of cardiovascular mortality could have been avoided if participants had engaged in regular physical activity, avoided becoming overweight, ate a healthy diet, and never smoked.
For individual factors, researchers found that 28% of deaths could be attributed to smoking, 14% to being overweight, 17% to lack of physical activity, and 13% to an unhealthy diet. For nonsmoking women, 22% of deaths could be attributable to being overweight.
Findings suggest that the combination of lifestyle factors has a substantially larger impact on survival than any single factor.
Researchers noted that making even modest lifestyle changes such as 30 minutes per day of brisk walking can significantly reduce risk of premature death.
Regular massage therapy can also help promote a lifestyle. For more information about Acupuncture & Massage College’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs call Joe Calareso, Admissions Director, at (305) 595-9500.