Americans could extend their lives with just a handful of healthy living habits, a large new study suggests.
At the moment, the typical 50-year-old American can live another 30 to 33 years to become government statistics. But based on the new study, those who maintain five lifestyles could contribute about ten years to that life expectancy.
The key factors include the usual suspects:; ; ; ; and only in moderation.
But researchers said the new findings put these lifestyle choices in a different perspective.
"Our findings have significant implications for public health because they demonstrate the great potential ofand lifestyle changes in improving ," Dr. Frank Hu. He is a nutritionist at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, agreed
"These five things can enable each of us to make a big difference," she said.
The habits are also realistic, remarked Steinbaum. For example̵
"That's not a crazy amount of movement," Steinbaum said. "It's not necessary that you join a gym."
Unfortunately, few Americans stick to this magical Five. According to the Hus team, only eight percent of adults in the US have achieved all five goals in recent years.
The US is also lagging behind in terms ofalmost all other wealthy nations the world for life expectancy at birth in 2015, according to the World Health Organization
The new findings come from two studies that over 123,000 US health professionals since the 1980s followed. Over the years, participants gave detailed information about their diet, exercise habits and other lifestyle factors.
By 2014, just over 42,000 participants had died. The Harvard team investigated how the five lifestyle factors contribute to people's longevity. They also used government health data to estimate the impact of these factors on the life expectancy of the US population.
On average, researchers found that the five healthy habits were 74 percent less likely to die during the study. versus those who did not retain any of these habits.
Those who followed all five good habits were also 82 percent less likely to die from heart disease or stroke, and 65 percent less likely to die from cancer, which showed results.  "Regular" exercise means moderate or vigorous activity for at least 30 minutes per day. Moderate drinking meant no more than one alcoholic drink per day for women, and no more than two per day for men.
Meanwhile, people were considered as a "healthy" diet if they scored in the top 40 percent on a standard
Hu said he could not give a precise description of what these healthy diets looked like.
But, he said, the scoring system gives people points for eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, fish, and poultry, as well as "good" fats from sources like olive oil and nuts. They are also rewarded for minimizing added sugar, red meat and sodium.
The researchers estimated that women over the age of fifty who have retained these five healthy habits can count on another 43 years. Her male counterparts can expect to live for about 38 more years.
The outlook was different for women and men who had not achieved any of these lifestyle goals. You could expect to live another 29 or 25.5 years.
All this shows how much "personal power" people have, Steinbaum said.
At the same time, she said, not all Americans have the same opportunities to worry about. If you can not afford healthy food or have a safe place to work, these "simple" lifestyle measures are not easy.
"This is also a public policy issue," Steinbaum said. "How can we make healthy food more accessible? How can we ensure that people have places where they can be physically active?"
The study can not answer the question of whether a 50-year-old who changes her lifestyle can take years of life expectancy. The study participants were initially between 30 and 75 years old, and Hu said his team had assumed that their reported habits remained constant into adulthood.
But Hu said earlier studies have shown that people can reduce their disease risks by adopting healthy habits at all times.
The results were published online April 30 in the journal Circulation .