Lifestyle Impact on Lifespan


May 17, 2024

A groundbreaking new study has uncovered compelling evidence that adopting a constellation of healthy lifestyle habits can significantly extend life expectancy. Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this landmark research leveraged data from the Million Veteran Program, a vast and long-running population study, to quantify the profound effects of eight specific lifestyle factors on mortality risk and longevity.

The Relevant Eight Lifestyle Factors

The study identified eight key lifestyle factors that collectively contribute to a longer lifespan: never smoking, regular physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption, restorative sleep, a nutrient-rich diet emphasizing plant-based whole foods, effective stress management, strong social connections, and the absence of opioid use disorder. By analyzing mortality rates and life expectancy estimates across varying combinations of these factors, the researchers unveiled a striking pattern.

A Continuous Decline in Mortality Risk

Remarkably, the study found that the more of these eight lifestyle factors an individual adhered to, the lower their mortality risk became – a continuous and incremental effect. Those who exhibited none of the eight factors faced a staggering mortality rate of 70.2 deaths per 1,000 person-years. In contrast, those who embraced all eight factors experienced a mere 6.8 deaths per 1,000 person-years, more than a tenfold decrease in mortality risk.

The Power of Physical Activity

Among the eight lifestyle factors, regular physical activity emerged as the most potent determinant of longevity, associated with a remarkable 50% decrease in mortality risk for men and 46% for women. This finding underscores the paramount importance of an active lifestyle in promoting long-term health and well-being.

Substantial Life Expectancy Gains

The study’s findings are particularly striking when translated into life expectancy estimates. At age 40, individuals who exhibited none of the eight lifestyle factors had a remaining life expectancy of 23 years for males and 27 years for females. In stark contrast, those who embraced all eight factors could expect to live an additional 24 years for males and 20.5 years for females, extending their life expectancy to an impressive 47 years and 47.5 years, respectively.

A Call to Embrace a Comprehensive Lifestyle Overhaul

While the study acknowledges certain limitations, such as the binary categorization of lifestyle factors and the potential for confounding factors, its overarching message is clear: adopting a holistic approach to lifestyle optimization can profoundly impact longevity. By embracing a constellation of healthy habits, individuals can significantly reduce their mortality risk and potentially gain decades of additional life expectancy.

This pioneering research not only quantifies the remarkable benefits of a healthy lifestyle but also serves as a powerful motivator for individuals to prioritize their overall well-being through conscious lifestyle choices. As the field of geroscience continues to advance, studies like this underscore the immense potential of preventative measures in promoting longevity and quality of life.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​