You may have read (about a month ago) that a Cambridge University group tracked the life-spans of 20,000 Brits, as it was affected by a number of factors that plausibly relate to it. Those included: 1) Eating your fruits and veggies every day; 2) drinking a little wine and whiskey—but not TOO much, every day; 3) NOT smoking; and 4) getting a little regular exercise (you got no points for having a sedentary job and life; and 1 point for having a job that required physical activity, or for compensating for the lack of exercise on the job by significant daily activity or exercise).

It turns out that if you got a high score (a “1”) on all 4 of these factors, you were destined to live about 14 years longer than if were flunking at life, i..e., you got a “0” (nada, zip, nil) score on all 4.

The press did its usual job of substantially distorting the outcomes described in this story, because they did not explain that about 80% of this difference was attributable to smoking. Are you still smoking? How much evidence do you really need, before you do what it takes to just stop it? An awful lot, it would seem. The press also did not tell you that drinking what would be the equivalent of more than 7 glasses of wine/day is really NOT a very good idea. Don’t do that, except on the odd special occasion!

Still, the message of this study is important, because it is another in a very long list of epidemiological studies that demonstrates that the “basics” of good health MATTER. Having a job that actually requires daily physical effort and/or indulging in a little (at least 10 minutes) of some form of daily exercise MATTERS. Try to figure out how to construct this into your daily lifestyle! Eating fruits and veggies almost every day is GOOD for your survival. Having at least a little wine (or grape juice, if alcohol isn’t your thing or is a part of a past that you do not want to relive), but not TOO much is a POSITIVE move that can add up (on the statistical average) to a year or so in the +++ collumn.

Interestingly, this study identified two factors that did not matter. Perhaps most importantly, maintaining your recommended body fat index did NOT translate into a significantly longer life. There is a massive body of evidence that has shown that obesity foretells a shorter life, but being just a little chubby appears to be another kettle of fish. Perhaps the stress reduction and the joy that comes from eating for pleasure overcomes the benefits from not carrying around that extra sack of rocks represented by your abdominal fat! In any event, this was somewhat encouraging news for your scribe, who has struggled since middle age with keeping his weight in check.

The second factor for these Brits that did NOT make a difference: social class. It’s rather nice, in a perverse sort of way, to see that being socially high-toned does not mean that you’re automatically physically high-toned—especially when the reader (again, like your scribe) just can’t support much pretense about benefiting from this endowment!