The Four Things That Can Predict How Long You'll Live

University of Zurich
University of Zurich

You eat right, hit the gym, avoid smoking, and don't drink too much — but will your healthy lifestyle really pay off? Scientists say yes. According to a new study published in the journal Preventative Medicine, people can extend their life expectancies by avoiding four poor lifestyle habits: smoking, alcohol, poor diet, and inactivity.

Researchers at the University of Zurich studied 16,721 people, ages 16 to 90 from 1977 to 1993 with their corresponding deaths up until 2003. The purpose of the study was to determine what a healthy lifestyle looked like in numbers and to prove that avoiding unhealthy factors can help increase life expectancy. Some interesting findings: Smoking is the highest risk factor, with smokers having a 57 percent higher risk of dying prematurely. Also, people who engage in all four risk factors have a mortality risk that's two and a half times higher than someone who refrains from bad health habits.

Yahoo Shine could not reach co-study author Brian Martin, M.D., a professor at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich, for comment, however, he said in a university press release, "We were very surprised by the 2.5 fold higher risk when all four risk factors are combined.” For example, the probability of a 75-year-old man who incorporates all four risk factors surviving the next 10 years is only 35 percent. If he doesn’t engage in those four poor habits, his odds shoot to 67 percent; for a woman, it’s 47 and 74 percent respectively.

What's more, the impact of an unhealthy lifestyle worsens as a person ages. For 45-to-55-year-olds who smoke, drink, don't work out, and don't eat healthfully, those choices barely made a dent on their mortality rates, compared to the effect it had on the 65-to-75-year-olds. The odds of a 75-year-old man with none of the risk factors surviving the next 10 years is 67 percent, exactly the same for an unhealthy person who is 10 years younger.

The message: Eat well, exercise, and swear off vices and you'll be thankful in your golden years!

More on Yahoo Shine:
That Thing You Do All Day May Cut Your Life Short
5 Ways to Stop Feeling So Hungry
Booze, Caffeine, Exercise: What's Really OK for Pregnancy?