Okay, the findings may not be exactly earth-shattering, but the evidence supporting them is impressively convincing. I’m referring to the outcomes of a study involving more than 5,000 middle-aged British civil servants whose healthy behavior in four key areas were tracked for 16 years.
The good-health behaviors seem commonsense “no-brainers” – non-smoking, regular exercise, daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, and moderate alcohol consumption. For that, though, results were no less striking – consistently healthy behaviors increased the likelihood of avoiding disability, chronic diseases, and mental health problems fully three times in comparison to a control sample of those living a less healthy lifestyle. While each healthy behavior alone (non-smoking or exercise by itself, etc.) had a positive effect on health, it was the combination of behaviors that produced a dramatically compounding long-term impact.
So here’s the key to both “successful aging” and driving down health care costs over the long run – an overall healthy lifestyle that prevents chronic disease and disability. In the words of the study’s lead researcher, Séverine Sabia, Ph.D., an epidemiology and public health researcher at University College London – “Multiple healthy behaviors appear to increase the chance of reaching old age disease-free and fully functional.”
Astounding revelation? Perhaps not. But simple truth rarely is.