15 Keys To Bump Up UK Life Expectancy

A series of 15 simple steps could in theory add up to 77 years to your life, according to new research from Norwich Union. What's more, a positive outlook and laughing a lot could add more years than a balanced

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A series of 15 simple steps could – in theory – add up to 77 years to your life, according to new research from Norwich Union. What’s more, a positive outlook and laughing a lot could add more years than a balanced diet and staying in shape!

Data from Norwich Union, soon to be Aviva, has identified a list of 15 factors which could theoretically bump up the UK average life expectancy. The study pinpoints how many years certain habits or lifestyle choices could actually add to an individual. The age enhancers range from the more obvious – such as not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight – to the more bizarre, such as flossing one’s teeth or having a pet! For example:

Be married/live with a partner – add one yearNorwich Union data shows people who are married or live with a partner can expect to live on average a year more than their single friends.

Maintain a healthy weight – add six yearsBeing severely obese (having a BMI of above 40) could reduce your life expectancy by around four years. According to the Food Standards Agency a healthy BMI level is between 18.5 and 25. On the other hand, being underweight might reduce your life expectancy by around two years, so maintaining a healthy weight is vital.

Don’t smoke – add 10 yearsPeople can add as much as 10 years to their lives simply by not smoking. Research carried out at the University of Helsinki has found that that people who don’t smoke can expect to live up 10 years longer than those who smoke 20 cigarettes a day.

Love to laugh – add eight yearsAccording to scientific studies, people who laugh for 15 minutes each day could live add an extra eight years to their lives.

Be a woman! – add 3.3 yearsRight around the world, women tend to outlive men by around 10%. According to Government statistics, currently in the UK women have a projected average life expectancy of 91.8 years at birth, compared to 88.5 years for men.

Clear out the clutter – add one yearPeople who live in jumble and chaos are more likely to feel stressed and depressed. Sorting out this disorder can add another year.

Eat well… – add 6.6 yearsAccording to Erasmus University in Rotterdam, a diet which includes daily consumption of garlic, wine, vegetables, fruits, almonds and dark chocolate could extend life expectancy by up to 6.6 years.

… and eat less meat! – add 3.6 yearsA study carried out at Loma University in the US found that people who ate meat less than once a week on average lived 3.6 years longer than their carnivore counterparts.

Have a positive outlook – add nine yearsStudies have shown that those with an optimistic outlook are less prone to viruses and recover quicker from illnesses and injuries. These people tend to act in “healthier” ways than negative people by taking more exercise and enjoying social activities.

Live in Eastbourne – add 6.2 yearsAccording to The Grim Reaper’s Road Map, a study compiled by the University of Sheffield, inhabitants of West Eastbourne in East Sussex have the longest life expectancy of any town in Great Britain, living 6.2 years higher than the national GB average. Central Livingston in East Central Scotland has the lowest life expectancy in Great Britain at 67.2 years.

Keep the faith – add three yearsNumerous studies have unearthed links between having a faith and enjoying a long life. According to the University of Pittsburgh, people who attend weekly religious services can expect to live around three years longer than non-attenders.

Be born later – add up to 6.1 yearsAccording to the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD), people born 25 years ago had an average life expectancy of 84.6 years for men and 88.5 years for women. People born in 2009 now have an average life expectancy of 88.5 (males) and 91.8 (females). Predictions from GAD suggest that people born 25 years from now could live as long as 91.7 (men) and 94.6 (women)!

Get a good night’s sleep – add five yearsPoor sleep can contribute to a number of medical factors which can put people at risk of heart disease. Those who regularly get at least six or seven hours’ sleep can hope to live up to five years longer than those who sleep badly.

Floss your teeth – add six yearsFlossing your teeth daily can add as much as six years to your life expectancy by removing harmful bacteria that can contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Get a pet! – add two yearsUS research shows that people with pets are less likely to suffer from depression and visit their doctors less often than those without. It is also said that stroking a pet can reduce blood pressure and stress levels.

“A person’s life expectancy is pre-determined to some extent by their genetic make-up, but there are a number of steps people can take to give themselves the best chance of living longer,” says Darren Dicks, head of annuities.

“While we aren’t really suggesting that someone adopting all of these practices will automatically add more than 70 years to their life, our research shows that broadly speaking these activities will have an effect on life expectancy.”

“People in general are living longer, so it’s ever-more important that people think now about how they are going to fund their later lives. People in their 20s and 30s should look to get advice sooner rather than later to enjoy their longer lives as much as possible. By changing our actions and outlooks and by planning ahead, we could – in theory – hope to live longer and enjoy ourselves all the more at the same time!”