Published on 31/08/2012
It is never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle say researchers, as a new study shows that being active in your seventies can make a big difference to life expectancy.
Being sedentary, overweight, a smoker or a heavy drinker is already known to be bad for health and shorten life expectancy. But researchers said they did not know how big the effect would be after the age of 75.
To find this out, academics at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden analysed the lifestyles of 1,810 people for 18 years.
They discovered that smokers died a year earlier, but those who quit in middle age lived almost as long as those who had never smoked.
People who exercised by swimming or walking had an increased life expectancy of around two years, and participants with a wide social circle lived a year and a half longer than those without.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers concluded that men with the healthiest lifestyles lived six years longer and women five years. The report's authors said:
"Our results suggest that encouraging favourable lifestyle behaviours even at advanced ages may enhance life expectancy."
Even after the age of 85 a low risk life lifestyle prolonged life by four years. However, because many of these lifestyle changes would have been made by participants before their 75th birthday it is unclear how big a difference changes in later years could make.
Professor of public health at King's College London, Alan Maryon-Davis, said: "These results should put an extra spring in the step of everyone in later life.
"They provide good evidence that even in your seventies it's not too late to gain an extra few years to enjoy life by keeping active, living healthily and being involved in family and community."
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012Categories: Health