Four lifestyle rules to keep you healthy

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Follow four simple rules and you could reduce your chronic-disease risk by as much as 80%, according to a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The golden lifestyle rules: never smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet.

Sounds simple? It is — and yet only 9% of the nearly 25,000 middle-aged Germans on which the study is based were adhering to the common-sense tips. (“Healthy weight” was defined here as body mass index under 30; regular exercise meant at least 3.5 hours per week; and a healthy diet was one that’s high in fresh fruit and veg, high in whole grains, and low in meat.) Study participants who followed all four healthy-living tips were 78% less likely than those who followed zero tips to suffer a heart attack or a stroke, or to be diagnosed with diabetes or cancer, within eight-odd years of follow-up.

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