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8 therapeutic habits for a longer, healthier life

New research points to eight healthy lifestyle habits that could add years to your life.

In a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, researchers found that men who had adopted all eight habits by middle age lived 24 years longer than men whose lifestyle included few or none of the habits. Women’s life expectancy increases by 23 years for those who have adopted the eight habits compared with women who have not.

The study was based on data from nearly 720,000 US veterans 40 and older, which is considered a nationally representative sample. Described by the researchers as “therapeutic lifestyle factors,” the eight key habits were:

  • Not smoking.
  • Being physically active.
  • Managing stress.
  • Eating a healthy diet.
  • Having good sleep hygiene.
  • Avoiding binge drinking.
  • Not being addicted to opioids.
  • Having positive social relationships.

Overall, people who adopted all eight were 13 percent less likely to die for any reason during the study period of about eight years, researchers said, and the mortality rate for participants declined as the number of healthy habits they followed increased.

The greatest mortality risk was linked to smoking, low physical activity and opioid use. The researchers categorized adopting healthy behaviors such as the eight habits as “lifestyle medicine,” which focuses on addressing “the underlying causes of chronic diseases rather than their symptoms.”

Lifestyle medicine also could help ease health-care costs, the lead researcher said in a statement released by the American Society for Nutrition.

This article is part of The Post’s “Big Number” series, which takes a brief look at the statistical aspects of health issues. Additional information and relevant research are available through the hyperlinks.

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