Four habits for a long and healthy life

As a part of the study, the researchers developed a lifestyle score for each of the participants, ranging from 0 (least healthy) to 4 (healthiest), based on their diet, body mass index (BMI), amount of regular moderate-intensity physical activity and smoking status. Only 2 % of the participants satisfied all four healthy lifestyle criteria.

Red Apple with heartOf all the habits, smoking avoidance was the strongest protective factor of coronary heart disease and mortality. Actually, smokers who adopted two or more of the healthy behaviours still had lower survival rates after 7 years than did non-smokers who were sedentary and obese. Regarding diet, the researchers found evidence for maintaining a diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and fish. Besides, keeping a normal weight (BMI<25) and exercise regularly was found to be protective factors as well. “Regularly exercise” was defined as more than 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity physical activity or more than 75 minutes/week of vigorous intensity.

Once again stated: there are no shortcuts to a healthy life. However, the different factors often interact with each other, making it easier to make healthy choices. For instance: do you feel like smoking after a hard training session? Or gobble up the largest burger ever? Probably not – and as a side effect, your weight stays healthy. Starting lifestyle changes with exercise may therefore be smart – hopefully, it gives you more energy and motivation to change the other unhealthy behaviours.

Maria Henningsen, CERG