Health Q&A: Is there a simple lifestyle change that can significantly reduce a person’s risk for death?

Health Q & A is a LKN Connect Health & Wellness column published monthly. The readership is invited to submit questions falling within the fields of health promotion, wellness, and disease prevention. Content areas can include nutrition, diet, weight loss, supplementation, fitness, exercise, stress and anxiety, ancestral health, and epigenetics among others. Please direct questions for Health Q & A directly to Wayne Coolidge 





Lois R. asks: Is there a simple lifestyle change that can significantly reduce a person’s risk for death?




Practicing a variety of healthy lifestyle options will result in overall health benefits. It will also significantly diminish the odds that you will be a victim of premature death.

Build up your regimen up to focus on proper nutrition, fitness, managing stress, and exercising. These things are part of an overall healthy lifestyle that will likely provide you the best opportunity to achieve overall wellness and productive longevity.



A word of caution

If you are starting a new wellness effort don’t try taking on too many changes to start. A complete lifestyle overhaul is difficult to manage and you will be at risk for failing at all of them.


What if you could only choose one life saving health habit?

What healthy activity would give you the best bang for your buck in the ole’ life extension game? There is one lifestyle activity that has been scientifically proven to significantly reduce a person’s risk for death even when measured on its own merits.


A Simple Lifestyle Change Can Decrease Your Risk for Death by 30%

According to an article entitled “The Importance of Non-Exercise Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Health and Longevity” [1] — physical activity can decrease your risk for death by as much as 30%. Not only was daily physical activity linked to a 30% reduction in death for all causes, it was responsible for a 27% lower risk for heart attack and stroke!


The more you move the longer you live

The research was conducted on 4,232 sixty-year-old men and women whose health was tracked for 12.5 years. Participants were followed while performing what researchers call non-exercise physical activity.” These participants were not involved in a regular or regimented exercise program, but physical activity levels were determined. Those who performed the highest levels of physical activity enjoyed the best results.


What is non-exercise physical activity?

The activities that qualify for results are those that we generally associate with typical household chores: house cleaning, gardening, raking, etc.

The researchers concluded that “A generally active daily life was, regardless of exercising regularly or not, associated with cardiovascular health and longevity in older adults.”

The message is that reasonably active adults get results. If you aren’t moving, then start moving. If you’re moving a little, start moving more and more until you reach the highest levels of physical activity that are safe and appropriate for you.


Consider physical activity a cheap life insurance policy

A mistake made by many people who want to start a healthy lifestyle journey is to make it too complicated. I have always suggested that clients work on incorporating one or two simple healthy lifestyle changes into their daily routines.

After those changes are successfully implemented, add new healthy challenges. Eventually you will have a comprehensive wellness program running on all cylinders!


Increasing physical activity is a great place to start.


It is a simple lifestyle enhancement that can pay big dividends. Reducing risk of death by 30% seems like an inexpensive life insurance policy to me.






  1. Ekblom-Bak E, Ekblom B, Vikström M, et al. The importance of non-exercise physical activity for cardiovascular health and longevity. Br J Sports Med. 2014;48(3):233–238.



Q&A images courtesy




Wayne Coolidge, Jr., M.Ed., CHES is an author, speaker, and innovative Health Promotion Scholar-Practitioner. He owns Wayne Coolidge Health Promotion, a consulting firm specializing in healthy aging, nutrition, nutritional supplementation, fat loss, fitness, and disease prevention. His expertise is designing lifestyle-optimization strategies leading to positive genetic expression, controlled cellular aging, health, and wellness. He has accumulated more than 31,000 hours of one-on-one training and personal consultation experience over a 37-year career. Wayne’s web site You can email him at



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