Americans know the effects that smoking, drinking, poor diet and little exercise can have on one’s health, but the combination of all four can severely impact one’s life expectancy.
One study followed the lifestyle patterns of 4,886 participants for 20 years and found that those who engaged in all four bad habits (smoking, drinking, eating junk food and lack of exercise) reduced their life expectancy by 12 years, according to the Archives of Internal Medicine.
During a follow-up study, research showed that 319 participants exhibited all four unhealthy behaviors and 91 of those participants died. The most common causes of death related to the unhealthy behaviors were cardiovascular disease and cancer, the Boston Globe reports.
“The findings don’t mean that everyone who maintains a healthy lifestyle will live longer than those who don’t, but it will increase the odds,” University of North Carolina public health researcher June Stevens says in the Globe article.
People are also more successful at changing habits when they attack one at a time. Adding more exercise into your day and cutting back on junk food are certainly areas that can be easier than handling an addiction such as smoking. However, those times that you are swimming or riding a bike are generally when you are not smoking so you may be cutting down whether you realize it or not.
Probably the most important aspect of developing a more healthy lifestyle is also creating a positive attitude; it is obviously the key to everything that we do. To do that, try to remember that every negative thought that you choose actually creates the suffering that you may experience. That action alone will surprise you when it comes to living a life that you will feel good about.
John Dryden comments that “we first make our habits and then our habits make us.”
Lifestyle choices are one of the main factors in preventable diseases and health conditions. Individuals should make a conscious effort to make healthy choices in order to avoid paying higher premiums for health and life insurance and increase their longevity.