There is no point in speculating, when there is now so much research available which indicates the difference any individual can make to their own lifespan and, particularly, healthspan figures.
Yet we have to accept there is an inevitable level of impreciseness in the figures.
- First off, let’s quickly look at some of the research. It is worth noting that we haven’t been able to find any research which substantially deviates from the summary below.
- In a 2018 study, an international group of researchers led by scientists at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that adopting five healthy habits suggest that women can extend their disease-free life expectancy after age 50 by about 10 years, and men can add about eight years more, than people who don’t have these habits.
- A study by the Jama Network, published in 2020 found that a high overall healthy lifestyle score and various lifestyle profiles characterized by 4 optimal lifestyle factors were associated with significant gains in years lived without major noncommunicable diseases between ages 40 and 75 years in both sexes.
Comparing the best with the worst lifestyle score was associated with approximately 9 additional years without chronic diseases.
- A US study published by the British Medical Journal in 2021, found that those who avoid smoking, being overweight, and who exercise regularly benefit from longer life expectancy from the age of 50.
The researchers analysed data on 73,196 registered female nurses and 38,366 male health professionals in the US who were free of major disease at the time of enrolment.
The volume of research around these lifestyle/extra years is increasing and becoming more widespread and across many territories and cohorts.
The findings are remarkably consistent.
It is easy to see therefore that if you compare healthy lifestyle with the opposite, there is a meaningful gap, averaging around 7-10 years, slightly dependent on gender.
This conclusion is that a simple approach of adopting the generic and positive healthy lifestyle policy radically alters your ‘odds’ of suffering ill-health.
Yet, there is a rapid development going on in two ways which could extend this even further.
– One is the understanding of the role of genetics. Coupled with an ability for individuals to find out more about their genetic disposition.
– Second, the understanding (possibly related to the point above) of the nature of the individual themselves, in other words different individuals benefit more or less from different interventions.
If you were prepared to use modern genetic testing options, coupled with learning as much as you could about your own constitution, for example what you may be predicated towards (e.g. certain cancers, heart problems, diabetes etc.) you could take further tailored measures to your diet, exercise and check-ups, which could move the odds even further.