Harvard researchers are among the co-authors of a new study saying that the increase in life expectancy in the past two decades has been accompanied by an even greater increase in years free of disability, thanks in large measure to improvements in cardiovascular health and declines in vision problems.
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that income is closely correlated with life expectancy, with the richest Americans living as much as 15 years longer than the poorest — and even the poor living longer in wealthy areas.
The average life expectancy in the United States has fallen behind that of other industrialized nations as the American income gap has widened. Also, particular health habits, including weight control, nutrition, and exercise, clearly influence the effects aging among segments of the U.S. population.
By synthesizing the data collected in multiple government-sponsored health surveys conducted in recent decades, researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research, Harvard University, and the University of Massachusetts were able to measure how the quality-adjusted life expectancy of Americans has changed over time.
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“We found that adding low amounts of physical activity to one’s daily routine, such as 75 minutes of brisk walking per week, was associated with increased longevity: a gain of 1.8 years of life expectancy after age 40, compared with doing no such activity,” explained Harvard Medical School Professor of Medicine I-Min Lee.
New research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that seemingly small changes in summer temperature swings may shorten life expectancy for elderly people with chronic medical conditions, and could result in thousands of additional deaths each year.
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Julio Frenk, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, touts global progress on women’s health issues, though more challenges lie ahead.