If you are feeling disheartened because you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, there are many reasons to be hopeful.
And there is even science to reinforce that hope.
According to a recent study, a healthy lifestyle – including regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, not smoking and not drinking – can help you live longer, even if you have one or more chronic illnesses.
In the nearly 10-year study, researchers in the UK followed around 94,000 middle-aged adults who had at least two of the 36 conditions.
The results? A healthy lifestyle could add another 6.3 years to a man’s life and 7.6 years to a woman’s.
The biggest benefit comes from not smoking, according to the study.
From the age of 45, smokers will live five to six years less than non-smokers.
Regular physical exercise is associated with a life of one to 2.5 years longer, according to the study.
Preventive Cardiologist Spectrum Health Thomas Boyden, MD, sees this data confirmed every day in his office, especially for conditions like heart disease.
“Healthy habits have a profound effect on our chronic medical conditions and the risks inherent in these chronic diseases,” he said.
Dr Boyden said his goal is to teach patients about the important role their lifestyle choices can play in their health.
“We can still help manage their disease through prescription drugs and medical procedures,” Dr. Boyden said. “But to maintain or regain health, the individual must adopt practices that can reverse diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.”
Patients reeling from a difficult diagnosis can be encouraged to know that lifestyle changes can bring benefits.
“One of the main points I try to make all of my patients understand is that medical conditions don’t have to be permanent conditions,” said Dr Boyden. “If they make simple changes in their life, the effect can literally change their lives.”
This one is mandatory, according to Dr. Boyden. Fortunately, smoking continues to decline, so it sees fewer smokers than ever before.
“Smoking causes cancer, emphysema and vascular disease,” he said. “No one escapes this.”
Get moving, but it doesn’t have to be overly athletic. Dr Boyden said walking 30 minutes a day at a moderate pace can reduce cardiovascular risk as much as prescription drugs.
“Moderate daily physical activity lowers blood sugar (improves diabetes control), lowers blood fats or triglycerides, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and improves mood through the release of endorphins and improves blood quality. sleep, ”he said.
Adopting healthy eating habits can do all of these things, too, Dr. Boyden said.
He recommends eating mostly plants, limiting animal products, and eliminating processed foods.
“Following a plant-based diet with few animals and no processed foods changes our risk of cardiovascular events within weeks,” he said. “This same effect can take over a year with prescription drugs.”
These improvements in physical health also reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer, the leading causes of death, said Dr Boyden.
Manage stress in a healthy way
Identify your best activities for reducing stress and make them part of your daily routine. It can be meditation, yoga, exercising, spending time outdoors, reading, enjoying a hobby, talking to a friend or a therapist and more.
“These are really the keys to maintaining or regaining your health, ”said Dr. Boyden.