Here’s a sobering fact: cardiovascular disease and cancer are the two leading causes of death in Australia. Now, here’s a comforting notion: a new report suggests that five, very simple habits can lead to a longer life. These are:
- Not drinking too much alcohol
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Never smoking
Researchers discovered that adults who regularly practice these five habits can extended their lifespan for as much as up to 14 years. Participants of the study were 82 per cent less likely to die from cardiovascular diseases and 65 percent less likely to die of cancer. The study, which involved 34 years of data, also noted that when maintaining these lifestyle habits at age 50, men could live an extra 12.2 years and for women, another 14 years.
The global average life expectancy is at 80. For Australians, we rank 14th in the list of countries with high life expectancy rates at 82.3 years. Monaco is at number one with 89.4 years and Japan second with 85.3 years.
One medical professional has cited that never smoking is the most important factor, which may be a wake-up call for many Australians. According to the Cancer Council Australia, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the country.
Consuming alcoholic beverages is a line people must carefully walk. There are some benefits to the occasional glass of wine, some studies show. Aside from inducing a relaxing effect, moderate drinking can reduce the risk of death by heart attacks, clot-caused strokes and other cardiovascular issues. Red wine is one particular form of alcoholic beverage that fare better than most. Red wine has a high concentration of polyphenols that can reduce blood pressure.
The downside of drinking is going from moderate to binge drinking, which leads to inflammation of the liver, increased blood pressure, heart muscle damage, and several cancers, like breast, colon, mouth and liver.
Meanwhile, a healthy diet, as defined by the World Health Organisation, is defined as a balanced intake of energy or calories. The total fat should not exceed 30 percent of the total energy intake to avoid unhealthy weight gain. One should also decrease saturated fats and cut out trans fats. Free sugars should be limited to less than 10 percent of the total energy intake. Salt intake should be less than 5 grams per day to prevent hypertension and heart disease.
The ideal body weight is entirely individual and depends on factors such as height, gender, age, build and degree of muscular development. The body mass index (BMI) has been commonly used to measure the “healthiness” of one’s weight, but the BMI system has its flaws. The 200-year-old system does not account for age, sex, bone structure and fat distribution.
As for exercise, the Australian Heart Foundation recommends half an hour of physical activity each day, which reduces the risk of heart disease by 35 per cent. Alternatively, 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise is also recommended. For people who like to walk or who usually commute, 10,000 steps per hour a day or walking at a rate of 6 km/hour is also a great form of exercise.