How to add years to your life

It’s not magic. The key to living a long and healthy life is to make a series of lifestyle choices that add up to a fitter old age.

Science has shown what works and what doesn’t. A 50-year study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, of 855 men born in 1913 found that a number of lifestyle factors were common among those living the longest.

One of the participants made it to his 100th birthday, while more than a quarter achieved their 80th.

Lars Wilhelmsen, who has been involved in the study since it began in 1963, said: "Our recommendation for people who aspire to centenarianism is to refrain from smoking, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and confine themselves to four cups of coffee a day.”

Other findings were that among the men who lived longest, it helped if they had also owned their own home by the age of 50 and had mothers who lived into their 80s or 90s. They were also fit enough at 54 to cope well with a cycling test.

Top tips to add years to your life

• Eat a piece of fruit a day – add 1.6
• Eat four extra servings of fruit or veg a day – add 2.9 years
• Exercise for 20 minutes a day – add 1.9 years
• Add an extra 40 minutes – add 2.4 years

Factors that will shorten your life

• Sitting for more than two hours a day – subtract 2 years
• Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day – subtract 7.3 years
• Being overweight by 11lb or more – subtract 0.9 years
• Having a BMI of more than 40 – subtract 6.5 years