How well you care for yourself could keep you healthy and active throughout life, according to a study from Boston University. Multiple lifestyle factors were assessed at baseline and throughout the study in a group of 5,248 community-living seniors. The factors included history of smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, diet, body mass index (BMI), social networks, and social support. This information was compared to activities of daily living, years of life, years of healthy living, and the proportion of life lived healthfully without disability. Results showed that being overweight shortened the amount of life lived without disability by 7.3% compared to people who maintained healthy weights. Poor diet lowered that score another 3.7%. Every 25 blocks walked in a week was associated with a 0.5% higher quality of life. The researchers conclude that the years of disabled living at the end of life can be significantly shortened and replaced with active, disability-free years if a person embraces healthy lifestyle habits.
Elizabeth Somer, M.A.,R.D.
Jacob M, Yee L, Diehr P, et al: Can a healthy lifestyle compress the disabled period in older adults? Journal of the American Geriatric Society 2016;64:1952-1961.