Lifewatch: Healthy Women

Reported by Claire Hosmann - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

BOSTON, MA (WECT) - According to the latest research, the fountain of youth may start with what you eat and how often you exercise.

Doctors and researchers say you can play a large role in determining how long you live.  They also say you can control how you look and feel during those years.

The new study says that if you want to live longer you shouldn't smoke, should eat a healthy diet, watch your weight, and get regular exercise.

"If women had all of these factors then we estimated that 55% of deaths in this study could have been avoided," said Dr. Rob Van Dam of Harvard School of Public Health.

Researchers looked at data from questionnaires filled out by almost 80,000 women over 20 years.  The women were part of the nurses health study.

While all lifestyle factors play a role in overall health, not smoking appeared to be the most important thing you can do to prolong your life.

"If you looked at only smoking, 28% of deaths could have been avoided," said Dr. Van Dam.

The study also found that drinking light amounts of alcohol helped women prevent heart disease.

While this study focused on women, researchers say their findings can translate to men.

"There have been two other European studies that have included more men, and they found similar results for men and women and these lifestyle factors," said Dr. Van Dam.

According to experts dramatic changes in lifestyle are not necessary to see a benefit.

A few modest adjustments to diet and exercise could lead to substantial improvement.