We’ve all been there… New Year’s day, reflecting on a year
that has gone by and we decide to make some changes to our lives.
Out comes the pen and paper, and we start a little list of
resolutions for the year ahead. A few months (sometimes even
weeks or days) down the line and those resolutions are all
forgotten, and we’re back in the hamster wheel of old habits.
It’s not easy to change life-long habits. However, a new
study shows that it is never too late to make
positive changes and to reap the benefits.
Sixty going on seventy
Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute analysed the
lifestyles of 1,810 people all over the age of 75. The
results, published on the British Medical Journal website,
showed that men with the healthiest lifestyles lived six
years longer while women had five extra years added to their
During the 18 year follow up period, 92 per cent of
participants died, but half of the survivors lived longer
than 90 years – with women more likely to have survived. The
researchers suggest that encouraging a healthy lifestyle,
even after 75, may enhance life expectancy. They found that
swimming, walking and gymnastics increased life expectancy
by around two years. People who were socially more active,
with a large circle of friends lived a year and a half
longer than those who didn’t.
When the researchers combined figures for healthy, low risk
lifestyles, they found that men could extend their lives by
six years, and women by five years, by adopting the most
healthy options. Smokers shortened their life expectancy by
a year, but people who quit smoking in their middle ages
lived almost as long as those who had never smoked.
The researchers also found those aged 85 or older with
chronic conditions and a low risk profile added four years
to their lives compared to participants with a high risk
profile. A high risk health profile includes living a
sedentary life, unhealthy eating habits, drinking
excessively, smoking and being isolated.
Obviously, many people would make healthy lifestyle
decisions long before their 75th birthday, however, the
results of this study certainly put a spring in my
step. It only goes to show that is never too late to reap
the benefits of healthy lifestyle positive changes.
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I made nine months ago…
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Active pensioners ‘add six years’, published online