How to help yourself live longer

By | December 27, 2018

How could you improve your lifespan?

Are You…

Male

Female

Where do you live?

in have an average healthy life expectancy of

Source: WHO (2016)

But could your habits be affecting your lifespan?

Find out by answering these nine questions…

Smoking

Do you smoke?

Never

Used to

1/day

More than 1/day

Your result

Tip

Good job! Life expectancy for nonsmokers is at least 10 years longer than for smokers.

Source: CDC

Keep up the good work. You’re lowering your risk of respiratory conditions, heart disease and cancers linked to smoking.

Source: CDC

Nice work! Adults who quit before they’re 40 reduce their risk of early death from the habit by 90%. But there are benefits at ANY age.

Keep up the good work. Smoking is linked to premature death from a range of diseases, such as respiratory conditions and heart disease.

Source: CDC

Smoking just one cigarette a day still has a greater risk of cardiovascular diseases. Research suggests there is no safe level of smoking.

Source: British Medical Journal (2018)

You’re so close! Why not try quitting? Research shows that 10 years after you stop smoking, your risk of dying from lung cancer could halve.

Source: CDC

The severity and risk of diseases from smoking, like heart disease or cancer, are linked to the number of cigarettes smoked each day.

Source: CDC

How about cutting down to one a day and then quitting? Research shows signifcant benefits to quitting at ANY age.

Source: The New England Medical Journal (2013)

Alcohol

Do you drink alcohol?

No

1-6 drinks/week

more than 6 drinks/week

Your result

Tip

Good job: Research suggests that there is no “safe” level of alcohol consumption.

Source: The Lancet (2018)

Keep it up! Why not try juices and smoothies with ingredients that could further benefit your health? But watch out for the sugar!

You are within the recommended drinking limits of most countries, but having just one drink per day can shorten your life expectancy.

Source: The Lancet (2018)

Why not try cutting down just a little? This could reduce your risk of a range of diseases, including stroke or heart failure.

Source: The Lancet (2018)

One drink a day has been shown to reduce life expectancy by up to six months. Up to three drinks a day can reduce it by four or five years.

Source: The Lancet (2018)

Why not swap out one of your weekly cocktails with a mocktail, or stay more hydrated with water?

Source: The Lancet (2018)

Exercise

How often do you do moderate to vigorous exercise?

Never

less than 30 min/week

less than 2.5 hrs/week

2.5 – 12.5 hrs/week

more than 12.5 hrs/week

Your result

Tip

This is not ideal. Exercise can reduce risk of early death by 22% if you stick to recommended exercise levels (2.5 hours per week).

Source: The Lancet (2017)

Why not try walking to more of your destinations? Brisk walks of up to 75 minutes a week could add up to 1.8 years to your life.

Source: PLOS Medicine (2012)

Good effort. Even a small amount of exercise can reduce risks of premature death by up to 20%.

Source: JAMA Internal Medicine (2015)

Why not try fun activities like walking, cycling or classes? Exercising for 2.5 hours per week can reduce mortality risk by a further 11%.

Source: World Health Organization

This is great but not quite the recommended level. Exercising 2.5 hours a week has been shown to lower your risk of early death by 22%.

Source: The Lancet (2017)

Try reaching 2.5 hours per week, perhaps by hitting the gym, cycling or walking more.

Source: The Lancet (2017)

Good job. You are exceeding minimum exercise limits! Exercising up to five hours per week can lower your mortality risk by 31%.

Source: PLOS Medicine (2012)

Keep up the good work! The more exercise, the more health benefits.

What an achievement! The more you sweat, the more you benefit. Exercising to this extent can reduce your risk of early death by 37%.

Source: The Lancet (2017)

Job well done. Continue what you’re doing! Or try challenging yourself even more.

Environment

Where do you live?

Urban, not near a park

Urban, near a park

Suburban

Rural

Your result

Tip

Not an ideal location. Spending time among pollution and not around greenery can remove years from your life.

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives (2016)

Find your nearest park. Studies in women show that living near greenery can lower depression rates and reduce mortality risk by up to 12%.

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives (2016)

Good choice. Studies in women have shown that living near greenery can lower depression rates and reduce risk of mortality by up to 12%.

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives (2016)

Spend a good amount of time in nature near you. A 90-minute walk in nature can improve mental well-being.

Source: PNAS (2015)

The suburbs are great, but are you near nature? Studies in women show that greenery can lower risk of early death by up to 12%.

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives (2016)

Spend more time in nature. It can lower your risk of depression as well as early death, especially from cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives (2016)

Research says that having green spaces around you can lower your risk of early death, most notably from respiratory and cancer mortality.

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives (2016)

Spend time outdoors to improve your mental and physical health. A 90-minute walk in nature can improve mental well-being.

Source: PNAS (2015)

Community

How connected do you feel to your family, friends, community?

Not at all

A little

Very

Extremely

Your result

Tip

Loneliness has been linked to a greater risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, increasing mortality risk by up to 26%.

Source: Perspectives on Psychological Science (2015)

You can limit this risk to your health by reconnecting with friends and family or forming some new relationships.

Close social ties have been shown to delay mental and physical decline, keeping people happy throughout their lives.

Source: Harvard Study of Adult Development

Why not engage with your family, friends and community more? Or form new relationships through community classes or events.

Source: PNAS (2016)

Great. Close relationships have been suggested to keep us even happier than money or fame.

Source: Harvard Study of Adult Development

Stay connected to your community. It can benefit your health and keep you happy throughout your life.

Source: Harvard Study of Adult Development

Great job! A study suggests that people happiest about their relationships at age 50 were also the healthiest at 80.

Source: Harvard Study of Adult Development

Make sure that you keep those close ties throughout your life as you may then experience less mental deterioration in older age.

Source: Harvard Study of Adult Development

quiz continues

Transport

How do you typically get around?

Walk

Cycle

Public Transport

Drive

Your result

Tip

Great choice! Walking to places can boost your health and experiencing nature by seeing trees or the sky can benefit for several hours.

Source: Preventive Medicine (2014)

Keep on walking. Just 75 minutes of walking per week could add 1.8 years to your life.

Source: Preventive Medicine (2014)

Smart choice! Cycling to work can lower risk of death by 41% compared with commuting in a car or on public transport.

Source: Preventive Medicine (2016)

Keep on cycling! It helps with weight control and diabetes prevention – and keeps you fit!

Good. Public transport can boost overall public health by allowing everybody easy access to destinations and encouraging more walking.

Source: British Medical Journal (2017)

Why don’t you try walking short distances? Being active even part of the way has benefits, including psychological well-being.

Source: Preventive Medicine (2018)

Commuting by car limits opportunities for exercise and could lead to reduced psychological well-being, increasing with commute times.

Source: Preventive Medicine (2014)

Swapping even some of your car journey to include walking or cycling will benefit your health siginifcantly.

Source: British Medical Journal (2017)

Fruit, veg & grains

How often do you eat fruit, vegetables, grains?

Daily

A few times a week

Hardly ever

Your result

Tip

Great job! Sticking to this healthy eating style is believed to add years to your life.

Source: British Journal of Nutrition (2018)

The more healthy foods you eat, the more you could extend your life span, so why not add even more?

Source: British Journal of Nutrition (2018)

Well done! But eating these on a daily basis will further reduce your risk of major cardiovascular diseases and improve your lifespan.

Source: The Lancet (2017)

Why not try to incorporate at least one of these elements into your diet every day?

Source: British Journal of Nutrition (2018)

Uh oh. Diets high in these foods are known to lower risks of premature death and several diseases, including cardiovascular disease.

Source: PLOS ONE (2013)

Why not try to incorporate at least one of these elements into your diet every day?

Source: British Journal of Nutrition (2018)

Meat

Do you eat meat?

No

Only seafood

Sometimes

Often

Every day

Your result

Tip

Good choice. A plant-based diet can make you healthier by lowering your risk for obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Source: CNN (2018)

Make sure you eat enough protein and be careful not to rely on meat substitutes; high levels of salt are hiding inside some of them.

Source: Action on Salt (2018)

Seafood is rich in omega-3 fats, benefitting your heart and brain. Meat can be full of saturated fats, increasing your risk of obesity.

Source: JAMA (2017)

Guidelines recommend two portions of fish per week, including one of oily fish. Be sure to maintain a plant-based diet, as well.

Source: UK National Health Service

Great. You are lowering your risks of diseases like obesity and heart disease and alleviating the environmental burden of meat production.

Source: Nature (2018)

Try to include fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein in your diet along with some poultry, fish, milk and eggs, and a little red meat.

Meat is high in a number of essential nutrients such as protein, iron, vitamin B12 and zinc. But it can be full of saturated and trans fats.
Why not try to make your diet more balanced, with a good range of plant-based foods, which can improve your health and help the environment.

Source: Nature (2018)

Meat is high in a number of essential nutrients, but it can be full of saturated and trans fats. There’s no need to eat it every day.

Source: Circulation (2010)

Why not try to make your diet more balanced, with a good range of plant-based foods, which can improve your health and help the environment.

BMI

Your BMI is kg/m2

What is your Body Mass Index (BMI)?

Metric (kg / m)

Imperial (lbs / in)

Weight (kg)

Height (m)

Calculate my BMI

Your result

Tip

A BMI under 18.5 means you are underweight and have a higher risk of mortality than people in the normal weight category (18.5-24.9)

Source: The Lancet (2016)

Try looking into balanced, healthy diets that can help you increase your weight, including a variety of fruits, vegetables and fish.

Source: UK National Health Service

Great! This is within the healthy range of 18-24.9 for BMI. Studies show people in this category have the smallest risk of early death.

Source: American Cancer Society

Ensure that you eat a balanced and varied diet, which will help you maintain this optimal weight and can lower risks of up to 12 cancers.

Source: World Cancer Research Fund

A BMI over 25 means you are overweight. Excess weight increases the risk of conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Source: The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology (2018)

Why not try weight-control measures such as changing your diet to reduce calories or reducing saturated fat or sugar intake?

A BMI over 30 means you are obese, which has been shown to reduce life expectancy by 4.2 years in men and 3.5 years in women.

Source: The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology (2018)

Why not try weight-control measures such as changing your diet to reduce calories or reducing saturated fat or sugar intake?

Tap on a square to see how you fare

CNN.com – RSS Channel – Health