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Study: 5 Healthy Habits In Middle Age Could Help You Live 10 Years Longer

(CBS Local) -- Healthy habits such as exercising for at least 30 minutes a day or drinking in moderation can help you stave off diseases for an extra decade, according to new research.

The study, published last week in the British Medical Journal, found that those who led a healthy lifestyle are more likely to be free of illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

A healthy lifestyle was defined by those with at least four of the following five factors: never smoking, a healthy body mass index (BMI) of 18 to 25, moderate alcohol intake (no more than a small glass of wine a day for women and a pint of beer for men), a healthy diet and moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day.

Based on data from about 110,000 people, researchers from The Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health then determined how long people could live free of cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes from the age of 50.

"We observed that adherence to a low-risk lifestyle was associated with a longer life expectancy at age 50 free of major chronic diseases of approximately 7.6 years in men and 10 years in women compared with participants with no low-risk lifestyle factors," the researchers concluded.

On average, the results showed that women leading a healthy lifestyle could enjoy 34.4 years free from those diseases, compared to 23.7 years for women who had none of the five healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Men who adopted at least four of the five healthy living factors could expect a further 31.1 years free from disease, in contrast to just 23.5 years for men who did not follow any of the healthy lifestyle factors.

"Given the high cost of chronic disease treatment, public policies to promote a healthy lifestyle by improving food and physical environments would help to reduce health care costs and improve quality of life," said senior author Frank Hu, Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology and chair, Department of Nutrition.

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