"The long-running Nurses’ Health Study shows that as much as 80 percent of heart disease, 70 percent of strokes, and 90 percent of diabetes — three of the nation’s top 10 killers — are related to just four lifestyle factors: avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and embracing a heart-healthy diet.
“They are absolutely astonishing numbers,” said Manson, who is beginning a large trial of vitamin D’s role in preventing illness. “Studies demonstrate the powerful role of lifestyle factors in preventing chronic disease. One of the most important prescriptions doctors can write is to prescribe regular physical activity.”
One area where knowledge has advanced rapidly in recent years involves the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight, which Willett said is understood much better today than even a decade ago and is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and many cancers".
Other aspects to what constitutes a healthy and rewarding life are explored in this article.
Getting enough quality sleep, saving money, being kind, taking time to reflect and be still to name a few.
The article continues:
"Though people make individual decisions that affect their well-being every day, people are at their core social animals. Recent research has detected those social underpinnings in their personal behavior.
Nicholas Christakis, professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, explores the effects of social networks on health. His research indicates that everything from obesity to smoking to happiness to loneliness can spread through social networks.
Still, Christakis cautioned that someone looking to live healthier should not just avoid friends who have unhealthy habits. Social networks are important, providing companionship and support even from those who smoke or eat junk food. There’s far more to gain, he said, in lending a hand to struggling friends than there is from cutting them off."
Want to live well? Harvard experts offer pragmatic pointers on getting healthy and staying there