Boston, MA — Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight, not drinking too much alcohol and not smoking during adulthood can increase life expectancy by more than a decade, according to a new study led by Harvard T. H. Finding a healthy alignment includes five key lifestyle factors that are an integral piece for eating (living) and supporting our mind and body to maintain health, vitality and longevity. Inactive women found a 52% increase in all-cause mortality and a 29% increase in cancer-related mortality.5 These data alone support that regular exercise and physical activity produce significant health benefits. Poor sleep patterns can have short- and long-term effects on health and vitality.
Through hundreds of well-researched studies, scientists have identified the ways in which sleep serves multiple functions in the body.6 In those who experience inadequate or interrupted sleep, there is an increase in sleep deficit. This led to negative performance, poor working memory, loss of cognitive speed, and decreased precision.6 In addition, studies indicate that poor sleep can dramatically affect psychological well-being and psychosocial interpretation, which, when combined, can exacerbate stress levels.6Attitude is everything, and understanding that there is a deep-seated connection between the way we think and how we feel and the way our body responds (mind-body connection) is the final piece of the puzzle of total vitality and healthy living. Researchers suspect that those with a more positive outlook are more likely to protect themselves against inflammatory damage caused by stress, and studies also support that negative emotions can weaken the immune response.4 It has also been suggested that positivity can help people make better decisions about their health and lifestyle. A number of lifestyle factors can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. The percentage of subjects who do not achieve the recommended behavioral goals for the five lifestyle factors, by sex, is shown in Table 2.Public health programs designed to combat chronic diseases should always consider lifestyle factors as important prevention objectives. Considering individual lifestyle factors, BMI and smoking were lifestyle factors associated with the likelihood of multimorbidity.
In fact, BMI was the only lifestyle factor associated with the likelihood of multimorbidity in both sexes. We wanted to test the hypothesis that the accumulation of unhealthy lifestyle factors is associated with a greater likelihood of multimorbidity. We are investigating the relationship between lifestyle factors (individual and combined) and the co-occurrence of multiple chronic diseases. The crude dichotomous categorization of lifestyle factors could underestimate the true effect of the various risk factors. The specific prevalence of multimorbidity was estimated by the number of unhealthy lifestyle factors and gender. The objective of the present study was to analyze the association between individual lifestyle factors and their combinations with the occurrence of multimorbidity, as well as the effect of their accumulation on an individual.
The increased likelihood of multimorbidity, together with the combined effect of unhealthy lifestyle factors, can be used to hypothesize that the promotion of health-positive lifestyle factors could be an intervention in the fight against multimorbidity. The odd proportions of the additional independent effect of each lifestyle factor on the others on the presence of multimorbidity, adjusted for age, education, and socioeconomic class, are shown in Table 3.Additional studies will be needed to assess the association between lifestyle-related behaviors and multimorbidity in other locations or populations. Because of its association with chronic diseases, each individual lifestyle factor becomes an important element to consider in the prevention of these diseases. Because of the difference in the distribution of lifestyle adherence factors by gender, all analyses were performed separately for men and women.
In conclusion, it is essential to understand how individual lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise habits, sleep patterns, attitude towards life and body weight influence our overall health. By making small changes to our daily habits we can improve our quality of life significantly.