Lifestyle and Longevity

Lifestyle played an important role in longevity of middle aged men

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) It is generally known that lifestyle choices impact human life expectancy. However, only a few studies have examined how lifestyle choices can help predict human longevity. In light of this, a recent study was conducted to examine longevity in relation to lifestyle choices during during middle age.

The study examined various lifestyle choices in middle-aged men, including smoking habits, weight and physical fitness.

The researchers found that more middle-aged men who did not smoke reached the age of 85 than middle-aged men who did smoke. Furthermore, this research showed that participants who were low in weight and physically active had a greater life expectancy than those who were overweight and less physically active.

The researchers stated that examining the relationship between these factors and human longevity can help inform the public about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

"Make healthy choices for a long and prosperous life."

Trond Heir, MD, PhD, of Oslo University Hospital in Norway, and colleagues aimed to examine the relationship between human longevity and smoking, weight and physical fitness.

The study originally consisted of 821 men between 51 and 59 years old. Of this group, 369 were smokers, 320 were overweight and 31 were obese. All of the participants were male, Caucasian and blue-collar workers. All of the men studied had or would have reached the age of 85 by the year 2006.

The men were recruited between August 28, 1972 and March 26, 1975. The researchers found that 252 of the 821 subjects had reached the age of 85 in a follow-up study.

The researchers stated that smoking was associated with low weight and high mortality (death) rates. Therefore, the study was divided between smokers and non-smokers.

The study found that smoking was an important factor associated with longevity. A total of 37.2 percent of men who did not smoke reached 85 years of age, whereas only 17.8 percent of men who smoked a minimum of 10 cigarettes a day reached 85 years of age.

Weight and physical fitness were also important factors associated with longevity. Exactly 46 percent of men who were considered to be at a normal weight reached the age of 85, whereas only 28.6 percent of men who were considered overweight reached the age of 85.

A total of 48.8 percent of men who were regarded as the most physically fit within the group reached the age of 85. In comparison, only 27.9 percent of men who were regarded as the least physically fit within the group reached the age of 85.

This study was not without its limitations, however. Examining the relationship between lifestyle and mortality was complicated by the fact that some participants may have gained weight, lost weight, started smoking or quit smoking later in life.

Despite these limitations, Dr. Heir and colleagues wrote, “Strengths of our study include that it is among the longest and most complete follow-up studies of initially middle-aged men.

“The prevalence of overweight and physical inactivity is increasing in high-income countries. This underlines the importance of informing the general population about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle,” they wrote.

This study was published online September 11 in BMC Public Health. The authors noted no financial contributors relevant to the study and declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 13, 2013
Last Updated:
September 16, 2013