Specialty Program - Youth

6 Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine That Add Decades to Your Life

What’s a Rich Text element?

stretch affect
February 28, 2024

The six pillars of lifestyle medicine are lifestyle changes that when applied consistently can provide effective prevention of chronic conditions. These healthy habits are also linked to living decades longer than those who do not practice these pillars.

Current analysis of eight low-risk lifestyle factors together increased the estimation of gained life expectancy to greater than 20 years prolonged life expectancy at age 40.

The most encouraging part is that even small changes, no matter your age, can have a significant positive impact.

What is lifestyle medicine?

Noncommunicable chronic diseases (like hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and obesity) are associated with greater than 80% of all health care dollars and are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States.

According to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, lifestyle medicine is a medical specialty that uses therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary modality to treat and prevent chronic conditions.

The six pillars of lifestyle medicine:

1. whole-food, plant-predominant eating

2. physical activity

3. restorative sleep

4. stress management

5. avoidance of risky substances

6. positive social connections

What a study of 719,147 veterans revealed about life expectancy

Based on the 6 pillars of lifestyle medicine, a 2024 study sought to determine the impact these lifestyle factors would have on mortality risk and longevity.

After evaluating 719,147 veterans aged 40–99 enrolled in the Veteran Affairs Million Veteran Program (2011–2019) the study revealed that a combination of lifestyle factors is associated with a significantly lower risk of premature mortality and an estimated prolonged life expectancy.

In addition to the six pillars of lifestyle medicine mentioned above, this study included in the avoidance of risky substances category, not smoking, no excessive alcohol consumption, and no opioid use disorder for a total of eight factors.

The results showed that adopting all eight low-risk lifestyle factors increased the estimation of gained life expectancy to greater than 20 years at age 40.

Scoring parameters:

The pillars were scored either as 1 (healthy) or 0 (unhealthy).

The healthy scores were given a 1 if the following were true:

  • Eat in the upper 40% of healthy plant-diet index
  • Participate in physical activity equal to greater than 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity such as brisk walking or greater than or equal to 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity for adults for health benefits.
  • Managing stress: a scoring outcome on the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 2-item scale, with a score of less than 3 and Patient Health Questionnaire-2 with a score of less than 3 suggests minimal or no depressive symptoms.
  • Restorative sleep: equal to 7-9 hours of sleep per night
  • Positive social interaction: score greater than or equal to 50 on the Medical Outcomes Study social support survey
  • Avoidance of risky substances: never smoking, excessive alcohol consumption (never drinking or typically no more than 4 drinks in a day), no opioid use disorder

Estimated life expectancy at age 40 for veterans who adopted zero low-risk lifestyle factors:

23 years for male veterans (e.g., on average, living to 63.0)

27 years for female veterans (e.g., on average, living to 67.0)

Estimated life expectancy at age 40 who adopted all eight low-risk lifestyle factors:

47 years for male veterans (on average living to 87.0)

47.5 years for female veterans (on average living to 87.5)


At age 40 if you adopt all eight low-risk lifestyle factors you gain an estimated 20 years of life compared to those who do none!!

Life expectancy at age 40 y according to number of low-risk lifestyle factors

Reducing the risk of death after 40

A greater combination of low-risk lifestyle factors showed greater reduction in the risk of death. In other words, the more lifestyle factors you practice, the greater your risk reduction.

Adopting one change attributed to a 23% reduction in the risk of death, three changes 50%, and six changes 73%!

It's never too late: improving lifestyle factors at 50-60 years old

Although estimated gain in life expectancy was weakened with aging, at the age of 50, males could still gain 21.3 years of additional life expectancy and females could gain 18.9 years by adopting all eight lifestyle factors rather than none.

Similarly, at age 60, adopting eight lifestyle factors compared with none was associated with 18.0 additional years of life for females and16.5 years of life expectancy for males.

The most encouraging aspect of this article is there’s still time!

Even at 40,50,60 years of age there are things you can do to improve your life expectancy. Without great cost or time, the six pillars of lifestyle medicine are things you can start doing today to directly influence your own health.

If you are looking to implement these lifestyle factors, the most positive impactful pillar attributed to lifespan is physical activity. Look no further than Stretch Affect to help get you started on your path to avoiding chronic conditions and increasing your lifespan.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

  • sdbare
  • sbearb

Static and dynamic content editing

  1. reshb
  2. rferh
Stretch Affect

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.