Stub out that cigarette, pour out the wine glass, and get off the couch. If you've been meaning to quit that one bad habit but just can't seem to commit, the striking findings of a new study could help put it all into perspective.
Researchers at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich have charted out the impact your lifestyle choices have on your longevity. Smoking, an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption were four factors they examined as they mapped the negative long-term side effects of these habits.
Looking at around 15 years of data from over 16,000 participants ages 16-90, researchers determined that smoking has the most detrimental effect on life expectancy. A 15-year follow-up on the study subjects found smokers had a 57 percent higher risk of premature death, compared with a 15 percent increased risk for each of the other three lifestyle habits.
"A healthy lifestyle can help you stay ten years' younger," lead author Eva Martin-Diener said in a release. "The effect of each individual factor on life expectancy is relatively high."
The chart details the consequences of the habits and can be viewed here. For example, the likelihood of a 75-year-old man with all four risk factors living 10 more years is just 35 percent, but would be 67 percent, nearly double, without any risk factors. For a woman, the risk goes from 47 to 74 percent respectively.
Likewise, the chart details the aging effects of poor lifestyle choices too. A healthy 75-year-old with none of the risk factors has the same chance of survival as a 65-year-old with all the risk factors.
Other longevity research has also highlighted the downside of unhealthy habits. Last year, a British study said smokers who live to age 70 lose an average of four years of life due to the habit. Another study claimed that just by sitting fewer than three hours a day, you can tack on around two years to your lifespan.
That's enough to help us ditch our bad habits.