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These Four Healthy Habits Matter More Than Your BMI

I love a good, simple message.

Here’s my favourite in recent months. See Can you disease proof yourself? Why appearances can be misleading

Short version: Regardless of weight the people with these four healthy habits had the lowest risk of early death.

Take away: If it’s health that’s your goal work on these habits not your weight.

The four? Eat your vegetables. Don’t smoke. Drink in moderation only.  And exercise.

It’s not rocket science.  And pretty much everyone lots of people can manage these habits. (Corrected: See RK’s comment below. I tend to think that since I quit smoking and can’t lose weight, it’s true that one is easier than the other. Not necessarily true. Context and social circumstances matter.)

So while your friends and my friends are busy debating (for health reasons) high fat low carb diets versus vegan diets or high intensity interval training versus strength training, just relax. Breath and smile and eat your veggies. That’s the thing that matters. Don’t stress the details.

Vegetables chopped and displayed in white bowls
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

“It’s January, which means health-improvement thoughts often turn to weight-loss diets. That’s unfortunate, not just because 95 percent of diets fail, but because research shows that what we do is more important than what we weigh for improving our odds of living longer and better. The good news is that what you need to improve your health odds is less than what you might think.

The four crucial habits are eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, exercising at least three times per week, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking. People who have all four habits have the lowest risk of dying before their time, and that risk is the same regardless of body weight. Similar research in the United Kingdom has found that having all four healthy habits may equal an extra 14 years of life.”

6 thoughts on “These Four Healthy Habits Matter More Than Your BMI

  1. Hmm I don’t think it is fair to say that “almost everyone” can not smoke. As with weight, the determinants of who smokes and how hard it is to stop smoking are complex, deeply social, poorly understood, stratified by race and class, and not just a matter of exercising individual will power.

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