Healthy Behaviors Equal Successful Aging
(Ivanhoe Newswire) –In a 16-year study looking at aging, scientists have found that engaging in a combination of healthy behaviors, such as not smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, exercise, and eating fruits and vegetables daily, makes it significantly more likely that people will stay healthy as they age.
"Our study shows the cumulative impact of healthy behaviors on successful aging — the greater the number of healthy behaviors, the greater the benefit," Dr. Séverine Sabia, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL (University College London), UK, was quoted as saying.
Successful aging was defined as maintaining the ability to function well with good mobility, cognitive skills, respiratory function, mental health and no chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke or disability at age 60 years or older. Normal aging included people who were alive at the end of the 16-year study but who had chronic disease and/or lower scores on functioning and mental health.
"Among members of a large cohort of British men and women 42-63 years of age at baseline, all 4 healthy behaviors examined during midlife were associated with greater odds of successfully aging during a 16-year follow-up," write the authors. "Compared with participants who engaged in no healthy behaviors, those who engaged in all 4 healthy behaviors had greater odds of aging successfully."
The study, conducted by researchers in the UK and France, involved 5,100 men and women from the Whitehall II study who did not have cancer, heart disease or stroke in the assessment phase during 1991-1994 and were followed to 2007-2009. Of the total participants, 549 died during follow-up, and 953 were classified as successfully aging while the remaining people aged normally. People in the successfully aging group were younger than the normally aging group (mean age 49.7 v. 51.3 yr), and 81% were married compared with 78% in the second group and 71% in the deceased group. Successful agers were more likely to have higher education than the normally aging group (32% v. 24%) and 18% in the deceased group. In the study population, 5% of people did not engage in any of the 4 healthy behaviors.
"Although individual healthy behaviors are moderately associated with successful aging, their combined impact is quite substantial. Multiple healthy behaviors appear to increase the chance of reaching old age disease-free and fully functional in an additive manner," conclude the authors.
Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal, October 2012