Americans are aware of the negative effects that smoking, drinking, poor diet, and lack of exercise can have on one’s health, but the combination of all four can have a significant impact on one’s lifestyle and life expectancy.
According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, one study followed the lifestyle patterns of 4,886 participants for 20 years and discovered that those who engaged in all four bad habits (smoking, drinking, eating junk food, and lack of exercise) reduced their life expectancy by 12 years.
A follow-up study revealed that 319 participants engaged in all four unhealthy behaviors, and 91 of them died. According to the Boston Globe, the most common causes of death associated with unhealthy behaviors were cardiovascular disease and cancer.
“The findings don’t mean that everyone who maintains a healthy lifestyle will live longer than those who don’t, but it will increase the odds,” University of North Carolina public health researcher June Stevens says in the Globe article.
When people attack one habit at a time, they are more successful at changing it. Getting more exercise and cutting back on junk food are certainly easier than dealing with an addiction such as smoking. However, when you are swimming or riding a bike, you are generally not smoking, so you may be cutting down whether you realize it or not.
Creating a positive attitude is probably the most important aspect of developing a more healthy lifestyle; it is obviously the key to everything we do. To do so, keep in mind that every negative thought you choose causes the suffering you are experiencing. That action alone will take you by surprise when it comes to living a life you will be proud of.
John Dryden comments that “we first make our habits and then our habits make us.”
One of the most important factors in preventable diseases and health conditions is lifestyle choices. Individuals should make a concerted effort to make healthy choices in order to avoid paying higher health and life insurance premiums and to live longer.