Most people want to live healthily for as long as possible. How does this work? In addition to genes, lifestyle is also crucial, as a new large-scale study has now shown. Four factors play the biggest role.

How long do we live? This cannot yet be predicted precisely. What seems clear, however, is that genes play a role. But not only, as a new study once again highlights.

The research team from several universities in China and the University of Edinburgh analyzed data from more than 350,000 adults from the UK Biobank. The follow-up period averaged almost 13 years.

The participants were divided into groups,

The most important findings:

A healthy lifestyle can reduce the genetic risk of early death by around 62 percent, according to study author Xifeng Wu. Overall, people with a genetic risk could extend their lifespan by up to 5.5 years through a healthy lifestyle.

“This study highlights the central role of a healthy lifestyle in mitigating the effects of genetic factors,” the researchers concluded.

According to the study, four lifestyle factors have the greatest influence:

These four factors “have the greatest impact on extending human lifespan,” Wu said.

As a minimum level of exercise, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise or 1.25 hours of vigorous exercise per week for adults up to 65 years of age. Moderate exercise includes, for example, dancing, brisk walking or relaxed cycling, but also household activities. Movements that cause you to sweat, such as jogging, tennis or cycling, are considered intense.

The so-called Mediterranean diet is considered a healthy diet, especially for the cardiovascular system. This relies on plant-based cuisine with lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, legumes and olive oil. Red meat, on the other hand, should only be eaten sparingly.

Limitation: This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn. In addition, the participants were only asked about their lifestyle at one point in time, namely at the beginning of the study. The genetic variants examined that influence lifespan only cover a small part; many are still not known. Further investigations are necessary.