A recent study published in the Journal Circulation found that adopting the following six healthy lifestyle habits can extend lifespan by about 13 years and quality of life, on average:
1) Not smoking
2) Getting adequate, restful sleep (7 – 8 hours)
3) Maintaining a healthy BMI
4) Not drinking excessively
5) Doing at least 30 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity
6) Eating a healthy diet (loosely defined – assumed as a minimally processed diet consisting of both plant and animal foods)
That’s no small effect! 13 years is a long time. Nothing fancy here and no magic bullet sold by a superficial instagram model. Doing healthy habits consistently is what increases longevity and health.
I would even add to this list and put in:
– stress management techniques
– having meaningful social connections with family and friends
– having fun and spending time in the sun and nature
Despite this information, very few Australians are engaging in this list of the top six health behaviours. We know this because when these behaviours are not followed, chronic disease ensues and chronic disease is our major health concern at the moment.
Chronic diseases like dementia, heart disease, cancer and lung diseases caused by smoking are the main causes of death in the developed world. Not shark attacks, not car crashes and not pianos falling on people’s heads. The main thing that is killing us prematurely are chronic diseases that are largely in our control to prevent. They can be significantly reduced and also TREATED by doing healthy diet and lifestyle habits consistently. And while it is true that despite the chronic disease rates, the average lifespan has increased due to medical advancements that keep us alive, however our quality of life into our old age is reduced by fragile bodies and minds.
But why do people struggle to follow these simple habits?
Most people KNOW they should be engaging in these behaviours. It has been repeated to us over and over again through various sources.
I can guarantee you that anyone who smokes these days know that it increases their risk of disease and death significantly. They just need to look at the packaging.
So why is it so uncommon that these behaviours are followed?
The problem is not the INFORMATION, it’s BEHAVIOUR. And the mistake we’ve made—and continue to make—is assuming that just providing more information is enough to change people’s behavior. However, that is not it, we need health practitioners and health programs (in schools and workplaces) that are willing to engage with people in treatment plans that help the CHANGE their behaviours, which are hard to do, despite people knowing the information. The choices we make around our health are not always logically driven, which is why people engage in unhealthy behaviours. Therefore, providing “logical” information is not the answer, we need to help people change their behaviour cycles.
Simply telling people in a consult room (under time pressure) that their behaviours are unhealthy and they need to change them is not going to elicit the desired result. It is not like they haven’t heard it before.
What people really need is to be coached on HOW to change their behaviours in measurable and sustainable manner. This is the future of medicine. No magic pills and no shmick products sold by profit driven companies
This also takes time, more than a quick 15 minute consult, which most doctors have for consults. So even if they wanted to help people change behaviors, they are pressured for time, especially in bulk billing services where they must hit a certain number of patients per day for government funding.
Changing your diet and lifestyle ain’t fancy and it can’t be “sold” as a product, but it will work. Better yet, it will save lives, increase longevity and health into our old age. The combination of modern medicine with healthy diet and lifestyle behaviours is a recipe for a long life! consistency and time
I often wonder what is the point of life. I will never know the answer, however one thing is for sure, seeking out the things that make me happy sure does feel good and I would love to live as long as possible to enjoy all the goodness with an abled body and mind. Because really, at the end of the day, through all the materialism and crap of our modern world, if you don’t have your health, what do you have? Without your health, you can’t live your best life, even if you had all the money in the world. This is why I love helping people change their behaviours to increase their lifespan, longevity and quality of life.
It is not too late to change these behaviours, extended your lifespan and decrease the risk of disease. Start now by finding someone who can help you change your habits.