Four keys to successful aging

A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that engaging in multiple healthy activities such as eating fruits and vegetables daily, not smoking, drinking only in moderation, and getting some exercise add up to significant health and longevity in the aging process.

The study looked at  5100 British men and women aged 42 to 63, who were free of coronary artery disease, cancer and stroke at the time of assessment (from 1991 until 1994).

Healthy behaviours included nutritious eating, exercise (2.5 hours of moderate or 1 hour of vigorous physical activity per week), limited alcohol consumption and not smoking.

By the end of the study period, 549 participants had died while 953 participants qualified as aging successfully – meaning 16.3 years after the study began they were still free of disability, mental health problems, chronic disease and had good physical, cognitive, respiratory and cardiovascular functioning. The remaining participants were found to have been aging normally.

People who engaged in all four healthy activities were 3.3 times more likely to age successfully than those who hadn’t. While engaging in one healthy behaviour may have some protective benefits, the combined impact of all of them together is significant.

“Our study shows the cumulative impact of healthy  behaviours on successful aging – the greater the number of healthy behaviours, the greater the benefit,” study author Dr. Séverine Sabia, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London wrote in the report.

“Although individual healthy behaviours are moderately associated with successful aging, their combined impact is quite substantial. Multiple healthy behaviours appear to increase the chance of reaching old age disease-free and fully functional in an additive manner,” the study concluded.

Successful agers were also more likely to be married and have a higher level of education.

Source: CMAJ

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