Take these steps to live longer
Being diagnosed with a chronic medical condition can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of your efforts to make healthy lifestyle changes. In fact, you could live more years by following a healthy lifestyle even if you have multiple chronic conditions, according to a recent study.
Researchers tracked 93,746 middle-aged adults living in England for up to nine years who had multimorbidity, which is defined as two or more chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, cancer, depression, migraine, diabetes and angina. Researchers also assessed four lifestyle factors: leisure-time physical activity, smoking, diet and alcohol consumption.
The analysis found that regardless of their multimorbidity, people who engaged in a healthy lifestyle lived up to 6.3 years longer for men and 7.6 years for women.
Of the lifestyle factors studied, not smoking was associated with the largest survival benefit. Smoking can cause a host of health issues including cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the CDC.
Building a support network is key to quitting smoking and staying off tobacco for good, experts say. Your network could include support groups, counseling, nicotine replacement products, and support from your family and friends.
“It’s not easy, but quitting smoking is the top thing you can do for your health,” says Dr. Jennette Berry, a family medicine physician at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, IL. “Don’t be afraid to ask your physician for help whether it’s finding support groups or dealing with withdrawal symptoms.”
Establishing healthy lifestyle habits also are often a component of managing some chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
“Being diagnosed with a chronic disease might be the catalyst for some people to finally adopt healthy lifestyle habits like exercising on a regular basis or cutting back on sugary treats,” says Dr. Berry.
Looking to get started? Dr. Berry suggests starting out slowly like going for a walk every night after dinner and incorporating more fruits and veggies into every meal.
About the Author
Vicki Martinka Petersen, health enews contributor, is a digital copywriter on the content team at Advocate Aurora Health. A former newspaper reporter, she’s worked in health care communications for the last decade. In her spare time, Vicki enjoys tackling her to be read pile, trying new recipes, meditating, and planning fun activities to do in the Chicago area with her husband and son.