Researchers have discovered a number of factors that determine how long you will live — from a genetic predisposition, to cholesterol problems, to whether or not you have diabetes.
They even found that every year you spent studying after high school will likely add an extra year to your life (good news for you PhD’s out there).
But most importantly, they have found two lifestyle factors that can help you live longer that are completely within your control…
The study out of the University of Edinburgh analyzed the genetic information from more than 600,000 people alongside records of their parents’ lifespan.
Because people share half of their genetic information with each of their parents, the team was able to calculate the impact of various genes and lifestyle choices on life expectancy.
And, thanks to their research, they revealed changes we can make that can significantly prolong a healthier life. If you’ve already made these changes — you’re years ahead of the game.
The lifestyle-lifespan connection
You may not know this but your lifestyle choices are influenced to a certain extent by your DNA. For example, genes have been linked to increased alcohol consumption and addiction.
By using a method designed to rule out the chances that any observed associations could be caused by a separate, linked factor, the researchers were able to pinpoint exactly which lifestyle factors cause people to live longer, or shorter, lives.
And, the lifestyle choice that they found to have the greatest impact on shortening lifespan?
You guessed it…
In fact, the study showed that smoking a packet of cigarettes per day over a lifetime knocks an average of seven years off your life expectancy.
But for you smokers out there, there was good news too. The researchers also found that smokers who give up smoking can eventually expect to live as long as somebody who has never smoked.
That’s right, the damage smoking does to your longevity is reversible if you just kick the habit.
And, the researchers also found another factor that has a negative influence on your life expectancy…
High body fat – meaning that the more overweight you are, the more likely you are to die early.
Luckily, that finding also had a bright side. The study reported that for every 2.2 pounds you lose, you can extend your life by an average of two months.
Think about that, if you drop that extra 15 pounds you’ve been carrying around, you could add over a year to your life.
Healthy choices to live longer
So, if you want to live longer and have more time with your family, it’s time to make healthier choices.
For you smokers out there, there are some things you can do that make giving up smoking easier:
- Try meditation – Meditation can help you “wait out” your desire to smoke, until, eventually it’s gone.
- Pick up a new hobby – Having something to do or think about besides those cigarettes can be a big help.
- Know your triggers – Know what your triggers are, like stress, and take steps to avoid them.
- Help your body make repairs – Pyrroloquinoline quinone, found in supplements, is a nutrient that helps support healthy cellular aging, something that years of smoking accelerates.
For those of you who need to lose weight:
- Watch your portion sizes – No matter what diet you try, you won’t lose weight if you eat too much. Portion out your plate in the following way: ½ plate vegetables, ¼ plate protein, ¼ plate healthy starches (such as brown rice of sweet potatoes).
- Avoid white foods – Breads, pastas, white rice and potatoes can have an unhealthy effect on your blood sugar so avoid them whenever possible.
- Get active – From burning more calories to lowering food cravings, exercise is a vital part to any weight loss program. This kind of exercise can help you lose inches and build muscle.
The things you choose to do each day can either shorten your life or help you live longer. What will you choose to do today?
- Learning and staying in shape key to longer lifespan, study finds — University of Edinburgh