They're simple, yet very effective. Researchers have shown that some measures aimed at reducing global warming also have a positive impact on health and may even allow us to live longer.
Live longer, while preserving the planet. This may seem contradictory and yet it is possible, according to science. While it is already known that tackling climate change can improve people's health in the long term, for example by reducing the risk of chronic diseases, it could also have much more immediate effects.
This is the finding of a report published by the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society, according to an article in Santé Magazine, in which eleven experts give specific measures to combat global warming that are also beneficial to health. It's a win-win, they say. “Our report provides evidence that the actions needed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will also benefit our health in the short term”, says Professor Joanna Haigh.
Here are the three habits recommended by researchers, to be adopted today, in order to live longer.
Favour walking and cycling
It is often said that regular physical activity is good for your health. Walking and cycling daily, in particular, could reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, dementia, and even some cancers, according to the report. Experts advise walking one kilometre and cycling three kilometres every day.
Eat less meat and more fruit and vegetables
“A healthy diet containing less red and processed meat and more fruit and vegetables is expected to increase average life expectancy by around eight months”, across the UK, the report said. On a global level, if the population reduces its consumption of red meat by between 92% to 96%, between 98,000 and 100,000 premature deaths linked to diet would be avoided in 2040. Opting for this diet can prevent or at least delay death from heart disease, cancer and stroke.
Better insulation and ventilation in your home
There is evidence that colder homes increase the risk of winter- and cold-related mortality, including cardiovascular disease, the report says. In the UK alone, low temperatures cause up to 50,000 deaths a year, although it is difficult to know what proportion relates to exposure to cold in the indoor environment, experts concede.
What is certain is that improving the insulation of walls, floors and windows has a positive impact on indoor temperatures. A better insulated and therefore warmer home could prevent some premature deaths and consequently prolong life expectancy. Effective ventilation is also important to ensure good indoor air quality and better health.
These small habits obviously go hand-in-hand with national and international actions such as the switch from fossil fuels to greener energies, which will also have a positive impact on the duration and quality of life for everyone. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 could, for example, save 7 million years of life from all causes of death between 2011 and 2154, the report concludes.