Exercise and healthy diet can add fifteen years to a woman’s life and 8.5 years to a man’s life. Study conducted by researchers of Maastricht University has proved that a healthy lifestyle that does not include habits such as smoking can enhance life by several years. The study concentrated on the middle aged people and their exposure to the risk of early death. For the study, four factors were considered – weight, dietary habits, physical activity and nicotine use.
According to the author of the study, Piet van den Brandt, who is a Epidemiology professor at Maastricht University, this study is unique because it is one a kind that studies the influence of four factors on risk of early death. The use of combination of four factors for the study has not been done before. The emphasis was laid on consumption of a Mediterranean diet, which is low in fat and high in nutritive value. As per the study, the use of this kind of diet, which comprises of a mix of vegetables, nuts and moderate quantities of alcohol considerably reduced the risk of early death
120,852 people, belonging to both the sexes and aged between 55 and 69 years were considered for the study. The data was extracted from a study that was taken up in 1986 jointly by TNO Quality of Life and Maastricht University Department of Epidemiology. The direct source of data was the Netherlands Cohorts Study. Health grades beginning from zero for the least healthy to 4 for the healthiest were given for all the people in the case study.
The major pointers that were considered were no intake of nicotine in any form, a minimum of half an hour of exercise every day, keeping the BMI of the body in the normal range, i.e., between 18.5 and 25 and regular intake of Mediterranean diet. Typically, a Mediterranean diet comprises of a large quantity of legumes, vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, monosaturated fats, fish, low quantities of meat and half a glass to two glasses of alcohol per day.
As per the results of the study, a profound connection was found between early mortality and lifestyle. People who scored the highest ran the least risk of early mortality. Interestingly, Mediterranean diet had a greater impact on the long life of women in comparison to men. When the lowest scores were compared to the highest scores, it was concluded that women with high scores were four times less likely to suffer early mortality when compared to women with low scores. In men, it was found that those who scored the highest were two and a half times less likely to suffer early mortality than those with low scores.