Background: A number of lifestyle factors, including smoking and drinking, are known to be independently associated with all-cause mortality. However, it might be more effective in motivating the public to adopt a healthier lifestyle if the combined effect of several lifestyle factors on all-cause mortality could be demonstrated in a straightforward manner.
Methods: We examined the combined effects of 6 healthy lifestyle behaviors on all-cause mortality by estimating life expectancies at 40 and 60 years of age among 62 106 participants in a prospective cohort study with a 14.5-year follow-up. The healthy behaviors selected were current nonsmoking, not heavily drinking, walking 1 hour or more per day, sleeping 6.5 to 7.4 hours per day, eating green leafy vegetables almost daily, and having a BMI between 18.5 to 24.9.
Results: At age 40, we found a 10.3-year increase in life expectancy for men and a 8.3-year increase for women who had all 6 healthy behaviors, as compared with those who had only 0 to 2 healthy behaviors. Increases of 9.6 and 8.2 years were observed for men and women, respectively, at age 60 with all 6 healthy behaviors. When comparing currently nonsmoking individuals with 0 to 1 healthy behaviors, the life expectancy of smokers was shorter in both men and women, even if they maintained all 5 other healthy behaviors.
Conclusions: Among individuals aged 40 and 60 years, maintaining all 6 healthy lifestyle factors was associated with longer life expectancy. Smokers should be encouraged to quit smoking first and then to maintain or adopt the other 5 lifestyle factors.