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Health Tips ​How drinking moderately, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight can add 11 years to your life

Losing just five percent of your total body weight if you’re obese can lessen your risk of several factors linked to diabetes and heart disease.

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It’s no surprise that your behaviors can influence your lifespan, but the extent they can do so can be encouraging: Combining three simple lifestyle habits can increase your lifespan by 11 years, a new study published in the journal Health Affairs suggests.

In the study, researchers gathered data from over 14,000 people ages 50-plus on their weight and smoking and drinking habits, and classified them as either high or low risk. “High risk” included current smoking, drinking 14 or more alcoholic drinks a week for men, and having a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30.

They found that a 50 year-old man who never smoked—meaning, less than 100 cigarettes in his life—has a BMI of less than 30, and drinks 14 or fewer drinks a week will likely live more than 11 years longer than a 50-year-old obese man who smoked and drinks more than that benchmark.

And it’s not just years in general these healthy-habits guys gained: They were more likely to live disability-free longer, too. People were considered to be living with a disability when they reported a limitation in one of the five activities of daily living, including walking, dressing, bathing, getting in and out of bed, and eating.

“The years we gain through a healthy lifestyle are years in good health,” study author Mikko Myrskylä, Ph.D., said in a statement.

Some other good news? Even if you smoked up in the past, you’re not completely sunk. Former smokers of a healthy weight who drank moderately and quit smoking 10 years or more before the survey began had overall and disability-free life expectancies that were only one year shorter than never-smokers with the same other criteria.

This study didn’t look at the effects of losing weight on life expectancy, but past studies suggest that reducing the length of time a person is obese can improve their health incomes, the researchers write.

In fact, losing just five percent of your total body weight if you’re obese can lessen your risk of several factors linked to diabetes and heart disease, as we reported.

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