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  • Writer's pictureUnwind Yoga Studio

How To Add 20+ Years To Your Life

In December 2023, Harvard published research that might sound like a confirmation of what common sense (or your parents) have long preached.

But now, it's backed by more than just words – it's supported by a significant body of evidence.

The study tracked the habits and life expectancies of over 700,000 adults aged 40-99 years. Delving into this wealth of data, the researchers made an astounding estimation: strictly adhering to 8 specific low-risk lifestyle factors could extend life expectancy at age 40 by as much as 24 years for males and 20.5 years for females, compared to those who didn't incorporate any of these factors.

Let that sink in!

Let's explore these 8 lifestyle factors that promise a healthier and longer life:

1. Never Smoke: Steer clear of tobacco for a cleaner bill of health.

2. Regular Physical Activity: Keep your body in motion for enduring vitality.

3. Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Enjoy in moderation, avoiding binge drinking.

4. Restorative Sleep: Prioritise quality sleep to rejuvenate mind and body.

5. Good Nutrition: Choose a balanced diet that fuels and nourishes.

6. Effective Stress Management: Find healthy ways to cope with life's pressures.

7. Social Connections: Nurture relationships for emotional and mental well-being.

8. No Opioid Use Disorder: Steer clear of the life-altering grip of opioids.

Each factor is individually recognised for warding off chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. What's interesting about this research is that it shows the impact on health and life when modifying all of them.

What struck me most about this study is the profound influence a healthy lifestyle can have on us, the apparent simplicity of these factors (at least theoretically!), and how many of the yogis I know embody this lifestyle. And while, like my little one whimsically suggested, living to 150 isn't on my wishlist, I do aspire to spend the years I have feeling vibrant and joyful.

We all acknowledge the merits of healthy habits, yet often find ourselves derailed by mindless behaviours or sidetracked by the pursuit of the "perfect" diet, the ultimate fitness regime, or the most cost-effective gym.

Maybe let this research serve as a gentle reminder: it's mastering the basics, not getting lost in the minutiae, that truly makes a difference in the long run.

Yoga offers more than just physical benefits. It simplifies our perspective, gently guiding us toward a cycle of healthier choices. In this way, yoga isn't just beneficial for the individual, its ripple effects can be felt across our communities and even the planet.

So, what small step will you take today to nudge yourself towards a healthier lifestyle?

Sandra xx


  1. Xuan-Mai T Nguyen, Yanping Li, Dong D Wang, Stacey B Whitbourne, Serena C Houghton, Frank B Hu, Walter C Willett, Yan V Sun, Luc Djousse, John Michael Gaziano, Kelly Cho, Peter WF Wilson,

  2. Li Y, Pan A, Wang DD, Liu X, Dhana K, Franco OH, Kaptoge S, Di Angelantonio E, Stampfer M, Willett WC, Hu FB. Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population. Circulation. 2018 Jul 24;138(4):345-355.

Photo: Simon Maage @unsplash


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