We’re famous all over the world for our historic association with natural remedies, top-class medical professionals and healing practices such as yoga and Ayurveda, India has one of the worst life expectancies in the world. According to the United Nations, India ranks 145th out of 200 countries when it comes to how long people live. When countries such as Syria, North Korea and Libya rank higher than us, that’s when the alarm bells should be going off.

But it’s not all bad news. We’re one step closer to understanding which factors are responsible to holding the key to a long life. A recent study by the University of Michigan tracked 14,000 people, starting at the age of 50, and reaffirmed some of our age-old suspicions.  The three things they found common in the people who lived the longest and healthiest lives were that they managed their weight, didn’t smoke and weren’t heavy drinkers. There’s something comforting about knowing that despite years of medical advancements, the secret to long life lies in our own hands.

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Going into it a little further, the study found that those who had reached 50 and had never smoked, weren’t currently obese (and had a BMI less than 30), and weren’t heavy drinkers (defined as less than 14 drinks a week for men and less than seven drinks a week for women) lived, on average, seven years longer than their contemporaries who didn’t fulfil these criteria. Even more encouraging is that six of these seven years were found to be disability-free, so not only were they living longer lives but they were also experiencing a great quality of life.

The most important thing to remember is that these three defining indicators of long life are entirely in your power to control. Your weight, addiction to smoking and weekly alcohol intake can all be brought within tolerable ranges to ensure that you make the most of life. If you find yourself overweight now, a combination of diet and exercise is just what the doctor will order (should you choose to consult him). It might not be an easy task for most people, but look on the bright side – if you get started, by the time you succeed you’ll have years added to your life, which you’re free to enjoy completely. Maybe spend some of that time sipping on wine, since it’s been shown that alcohol, when drunk in moderation, can have plenty of positive effects on one’s health. See? It’s not all doom and gloom. But for all you smokers out there, the only solution is quit your dependence on your cigarettes. The good news is that even if you quit after reading this article, you’ll start reaping the benefits soon enough.

It’s never too late to turn your life around and healthy behaviour can be learned at any time, if you’re driven to lead to longer and problem-free life.

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