Find Your Healthy Routine
How can I lead a healthy lifestyle?
To a greater or lesser extent, we all know what lifestyle habits we should adopt in order to be healthier. Moving more, not smoking or drinking alcohol, eating a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables, or improving our sleep are some of the actions that we know are essential to reach adulthood healthy. But what real impact does following a healthy lifestyle have on life expectancy?
A recent study of more than 45,000 people found that those who ate a balanced diet, did not smoke or drink alcohol, had a healthy body mass index (normal weight range), slept 6-7.5 hours, and engaged in regular physical activity, lived 6 years longer on average than those who did not follow a healthy lifestyle (1). It is worth noting that the greatest benefits were obtained in the case of people with a disease. That is, if people were ill (e.g., cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or kidney disease), leading a healthy lifestyle increased life expectancy compared to patients who did not have healthy habits. For example, a woman with cancer who maintained a healthy lifestyle could live up to 11 years longer than a patient who smoked, drank alcohol, was sedentary or ate ultra-processed foods. In fact, cancer survivors with unhealthy behaviours have an increased risk of mortality, highlighting the importance of a healthy daily routine among cancer survivors (2). Despite this evidence, adherence to multiple lifestyle behaviours recommendations is low among cancer survivors (3). On the positive side, a high proportion of cancer patients and survivors have a desire to make positive lifestyle changes (4).
What actions can you take to follow a healthy lifestyle?
- Get moving, limit your sitting or lying down, and strengthen your muscles. Walking outdoors whenever environmental conditions permit. Try to analyse what your daily routine is like and think about what you can change that is really feasible for you. Can you walk to work? Do you have the possibility to take a walk at any time of the day? Can you do any work meetings standing and/or walking instead of sitting?
- Maintaining a balanced nutrition (rich in seasonal fruits and vegetables and limiting ultra-processed foods). Planning the week's meals in advance will help you to eat a balanced diet.
- Maintaining adequate sleep quality. Try to avoid exciting activities before going to sleep and practice relaxation and/or meditation to promote a good night's sleep.
- Avoid harmful substances such as alcohol, tobacco or drugs.
Author: Javier S. Morales, UCA
- Sakaniwa R, Noguchi M, Imano H, Shirai K, Tamakoshi A, Iso H, et al. Impact of modifiable healthy lifestyle adoption on lifetime gain from middle to older age. Age Ageing. 2022;51(5).
- Jeong W, Park EC, Nam CM, Park S, Nam JY, Jang SI. Health behavior changes and mortality among South Korean cancer survivors. Sci Rep. 2022 Sep 26;12(1):16011.
- Tollosa DN, Tavener M, Hure A, James EL. Adherence to multiple health behaviours in cancer survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Cancer Surviv. 2019 Jun;13(3):327-343.
- Pugh G, Hough R, Gravestock H, Fisher A. The health behaviour status of teenage and young adult cancer patients and survivors in the United Kingdom. Support Care Cancer. 2020 Feb;28(2):767-777.