What are the 8 things to prolong your life? + video

A recent observational study has unearthed eight transformative lifestyle habits that, when embraced in midlife, exhibit the potential to significantly extend an individual’s lifespan. This study, presented by Xuan-Mai T. Nguyen, a health science specialist, and fourth-year medical student at Carle Illinois College of Medicine, analyzed data from over 719,000 participants in the Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program (MVP), a prominent health research initiative focused on the health and wellness impacts of genes, lifestyles, military experiences, and exposures on more than a million U.S. veterans.


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The Eight Identified Habits: A Path to Longevity

Between 2011 and 2019, the study observed U.S. veterans aged 40 to 99, with over 30,000 participants passing away during the follow-up period. Utilizing cox proportional hazard regression models and a multi-lifetable method, the research examined all-cause mortality and longevity, separately for male and female veterans.

The eight habits found to have a remarkable impact on lifespan are:

  1. Regular physical activity
  2. Avoiding opioid use
  3. Abstaining from smoking
  4. Managing stress
  5. Limiting excessive alcohol consumption
  6. Maintaining a healthy diet
  7. Prioritizing quality sleep
  8. Cultivating positive social relationships

What are the 8 things to prolong your life? + video


Veterans who embraced all eight of these habits experienced a substantial 13% reduction in overall mortality compared to those who didn’t adopt any. For men, adopting these habits at 40 led to a predicted average lifespan increase of 24 years, while women saw a 23-year increase.

Crucial Findings: Lifestyle and Lifespan

The study highlighted that low physical activity, opioid use, and smoking had the most significant negative impact on lifespan, correlating with a 30% to 45% higher risk of death. Additionally, stress, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, and inadequate sleep hygiene were associated with a 20-30% increased risk of death during the study period. Interestingly, a lack of positive social relationships exhibited a 5% increase in risk.

Mental health’s role in longevity was also underscored, with anxiety and depression linked to 8% of premature deaths. This insight prompts a reevaluation of the incorporation of psychosocial factors in future research.

Promoting Wellness and Mitigating Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, dominate causes of death and disability in the U.S. Over 80% of healthcare costs are connected to these non-communicable chronic diseases. Addressing these concerns, adopting a healthier lifestyle through “lifestyle medicine” becomes paramount. Dr. Yanping Li, a co-author of the study, notes the potential of lifestyle medicine to alleviate healthcare expenses stemming from prescription medicines and surgical procedures.

Age Is Not a Barrier to Positive Change

Remarkably, even adopting one or a few of these habits yields benefits. The research demonstrated that benefits persist even when adopting habits later in life, though the gains might be relatively smaller. Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine and infectious diseases expert, lauds this aspect of the study, emphasizing the tangible advantages of incremental changes.

Implications and Cautionary Notes

While the study contributes valuable insights, it’s crucial to acknowledge its observational nature, preventing the establishment of causality. Nguyen stresses that while confounding factors have been controlled, causal effects cannot be directly assumed from the findings. Despite these limitations, the study’s outcomes remain a convincing testament to the power of lifestyle choices in enhancing life expectancy.

The Call to Embrace Healthier Habits

In a world where quantifying the impact of healthier habits is vital, studies like these bridge the gap between clinical advice and patient understanding. Dr. Li asserts that the purpose is to elucidate the substantial differences in adopting these habits and communicate their importance to patients. The study’s outcomes are persuasive, indicating substantial life expectancy gains with the collective adoption of these habits.

In conclusion, this research not only provides actionable insights for individuals to enhance their lifespan but also underscores the value of lifestyle choices in promoting overall well-being.