Four common bad habits combined - smoking, drinking too much, inactivity and poor diet - can age you by 12 years, sobering new research suggests.
The findings are from a study that tracked nearly 5,000 British adults for 20 years, and they highlight yet another reason to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Overall, 314 people studied had all four unhealthy behaviors. Among them, 91 died during the study, or 29 percent. Among the 387 healthiest people with none of the four habits, only 32 died, or about 8 percent.
The risky behaviors are: smoking tobacco; downing more than three alcoholic drinks per day for men and more than two daily for women; getting less than two hours of physical activity per week; and eating fruits and vegetables fewer than three times daily.
So, Dr. Devine said he commonly uses the term HALT for patients to focus on the following: hunger, Anger, lonely, or tired; these emotions/responses should be "fixed" in a timely fashion to improve healthy living.
These habits combined substantially increased the risk of death and made people who engaged in them seem 12 years older than people in the healthiest group.
The healthiest group included never-smokers and those who had quit; non alcoholic drinkers, and women who had fewer than two drinks daily and men who had fewer than three; those who got at least two hours of physical activity weekly; and those who ate fruits and vegetables at least three times daily.
The current US recommendations for adults are four cups of fruits or vegetables daily, 2½ hours of exercise weekly, non smoking and less than two alcoholic drinks per day
Experts say that overall the findings don't mean that everyone who maintains a healthy lifestyle will live longer than those who don't, but it will increase their odds substantially.