Making positive lifestyle
changes in older age can years to your life, according to new research from Sweden
They discovered the following:
- Half of the participants survived longer than 90 years of age
- Not surprisingly, women and nonsmokers lived longer than men and current smokers
- Subjects who regularly engaged in physical activity lived a median of two years longer than those who did not
- Those who consumed alcohol lived a median of 1.3 years more than those who were never drinkers.
Men and women who had a low risk profile, characterised by healthy lifestyle behaviours; participation in one or more leisure activities and having a rich social network (defined as living with a spouse, being in regular contact with children, and having daily to weekly contact with relatives and friends) or a moderate social network (defined as having two of the three elements of a rich social network) lived a median of 5.4 years longer than those who had a high risk profile that included none of these factors.
When the subjects were analysed according to gender, men with a low risk profile lived a median of six years longer and women five years longer in comparison with those who had a high risk profile. And in an analysis of those 85 years of age or more, a low risk profile still conferred a median age
of death that was 4.7 years older than that of subjects with a high risk profile.
The researchers conclude: “To the best of our knowledge this is the first study that directly provides information about differences in longevity according to several modifiable factors,” the authors write. “Our results suggest that encouraging favourable lifestyle behaviours even at advanced ages may enhance life expectancy, probably by reducing morbidity.”
Dr Debora Rizzuto from the Institutet commentsL “Studies have shown that lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and body weight (both underweight and overweight), can predict mortality in elderly people.
“However, it is uncertain whether these associations are applicable to the oldest old. Indeed, studies have indicated that the relation between certain lifestyle factors and mortality may differ among those aged 75 or older compared with younger adults.”