According to a study by Harvard, healthy habits can make a big difference to one’s life expectancy. Their analysis showed that people who follow all five healthy habits (see below) not only lived longer but also enjoyed a better quality of life. The analysis indicated that if these healthy habits were observed from the age of 50, women and men could enjoy a longer life expectancy of 14 years and 12 years respectively.

What healthy habits did Harvard base their analysis on?

  • Healthy diet. 
  • Regular exercise. 
  • Healthy weight (Body Mass Index of 18-25).  
  • Moderate use of alcohol. 
  • Not smoking.

The Harvard analysis found that people who practiced only one of the five healthy habits increased their life expectancy by two years. Leading healthcare and wellness platform Webmd reports that only 3% of adults meet the criteria for a healthy lifestyle. The questions probed in the Webmd report were:

  • Do you smoke?
  • Are you able to maintain a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 18-25 or are you successfully losing weight to achieve a healthy BMI?
  • Do you eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day?
  • Are you exercising for 30 minutes each day for five days? advises that a balanced lifestyle can reduce the risk of cancer and urges people to make smart food and drink choices; be physically active; maintain a healthy weight; and avoid cancer-causing agents such as tobacco and alcohol.

UPD* and Link pharmacy group’s Ryan Conybeare says that while the effort to improve wellness can seem challenging for many people, when you break it down it becomes doable.

“It would be great if you could meet each of the 4 or 5 criteria overnight but as the studies show, few people achieve that. Rather tackle one or two criteria to work on at a time. Start with the easy criteria and master it, giving yourself a well-earned pat on the back and the confidence to move to the next task or health criteria. If you struggle, don’t be hard on yourself – try again. As you succeed in each, your life expectancy and quality of life improves”.

Talk to your GP or Link pharmacy owner for advice, support, screenings and tests.

*UPD (United Pharmaceutical Distributors) is South Africa’s leading healthcare wholesaler and distributor. It also owns the Link brand.


While all reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this article, information may change or become dated, as new developments occur. The Link group shall not be held liable or accountable for the accuracy, completeness or correctness of any information for any purpose.