Studies reveal that the main lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy are reducing stress and avoiding smoking, heavy drinking and type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented naturally by doing regular physical activity, healthy eating and getting enough sleep. A person’s quality of life, such as poor sleep and lifestyle risk factors such as obesity will all influence longevity.

Researchers found that diabetes and smoking are the leading causes of life shortening for both men and women. For a man aged 30 smoking lowers life expectancy by 6.6 years and diabetes by 6.5 years and heavy stress by 2.8 years. For a 30-year-old woman smoking cause a 5.5 years fewer years, diabetes 5.3 years, and heavy stress 2.3 years decline in life expectancy.

Exercise is another lifestyle risk factor: men with a lack of physical activity had 2.4 years shorter life.

In contrast, improving quality of life and positive changes in lifestyle, such as eating lots of fruits and vegetables can boost longevity. Eating vegetables makes people live longer by 0.9 years and fruits by 1.4 years.

For older persons, the factors that affect longevity were similar to younger people, except for the outcomes which were smaller. People who live with moderation seem to have the best outcomes as well as living longer.

Psychological risk factors also affect life expectancy, for example, having some stress — as long as at a similar level to what is usual for others — did not reduce lifespan. However, higher levels of stress took a few years off their life time.

Life expectancy differences are related to modifiable risk factors, including managing stress, smoking, diet and exercise.