This summer, an interesting study was presented at Nutrition 2023, comparing the health benefits of various lifestyle habits. The list is unsurprising, but the relative reductions in all-cause mortality are interesting. The population studied was 720,000 military veterans who are part of the Million Veteran Program, a longitudinal study of the health of U.S. veterans. I don't have access to the study itself, but I have seen the reporting on it on CNN and other sources. The study apparently sampled the all-cause mortality of the population at ages 40, 50, and 60, assessing their all-cause mortality and longevity. The researchers ranked the various life habits most associated with low mortality and longevity. These results are independent of age, body mass index, sex, race and ethnicity, marital status, education level and family income level.

The all-cause mortality reductions are captured in the table:


 Reduction in All-Cause Mortality
Exercise at least 7.5                      
MET hours a week
Not becoming addicted to opioids 38%
Never using tobacco 29%
Managing stress 22%
Eating a plant-based diet 21%
Avoiding binge drinking - but drinking any amount raises risk. 19%
Sleeping 7-9 hours without insomnia 18%
Having positive social relationships 5%


This study is a longitudinal of a large population. But it joins a large body of longitudinal and interventional studies that strongly point to the assertion that exercise confers substantial benefits to the individual. The net impact is significant. A 40-year-old who has adopted all the habits can expect to live up to 24 years longer on average. The typical 50-year-old can gain up to 21 years. Even at 60, the increase in life expectancy is 18 years.