Four Simple Healthy Lifestyle Habits May Extend Life, Lower Heart Risk For Older People

Can adopting a healthier lifestyle later in life help -- or is it too late? This was the question researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston wanted to answer. In the study results published in the July issue of The American Journal of Medicine, the researchers found that these middleaged people, ages 45 to 64, who added healthy lifestyle behaviors could substantially reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease and reduce their death rate.

Once these people achieved four healthy behaviors, investigators saw a 35 percent reduction in CVD incidence and a 40 percent reduction in mortality compared to people with less healthy lifestyles. The four necessary healthy behaviors are:

1. Eating at least five fruits and vegetables daily.

2. Exercising at least 2.5 hours per week .

3. Maintaining a Body Mass Index between 18.5 and 30 kg/m (Note: a person 5'8" weighing 197 pounds would have BMI of 30. Have your physician check yours).

4. Not smoking.

"The potential public health benefit from adopting a healthier lifestyle in middle age is substantial," writes Dana E. King, MD, MS. "The current study demonstrated that adopting four modest healthy habits considerably lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality in a relatively short-term four-year follow up period. These health findings emphasize that making the necessary changes to adhere to a healthy lifestyle is extremely worthwhile, and that middleage is not too late to act."

There were three key findings from the study :

? First, the benefit of switching to a healthy lifestyle past age 45 became evident even in the fouryear, short-term follow up.

? Second, the beneficial impact of the changes occurred despite the relatively modest changes in health habits.

? Third, the healthy lifestyle was beneficial when compared to all persons with three or fewer healthy habits, not just in comparison to people with none or one habit.

Healthy living is a lifestyle and not a phase one should move in and out of. Although A complete change of life-style may not be the answer at any age these four simple habits may start you in the right direction.