Taking a nap (30 minutes per day), walking for 30 minutes or meeting up with friends, three of the ten factors that reduce the risk of premature death

The SUN Project (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra) received the award for best research project at the World Conference on Public Healthcare

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Liz Ruiz-Estigarribia (left) and Maira Bes-Rastrollo. FOTO: Manuel Castells
10/11/20 11:36 Miguel Ángel Echávarri

Meeting with friends for least one hour a day, doing physical exercise equivalent to walking for at least 30 minutes a day or running for a total of 2 hours a week and taking a nap for 30 minutes, reduces the risk of premature death. These are some of the conclusions of the SUN Project,, which received the award for highest-rated research at the 16th World Congress on Public Healthcare 2020. 

The project, selected from over 4,000 studies,  jointly analyses ten healthy lifestyle factors and concludes that as well as age, fulfilling at least 7 of the 10 factors reduces the risk of premature death by 60%.  Other factors which the research highlights include “no smoking, following a Mediterranean diet, having a healthy body mass index (less than or equal to 22kg/m2),  limited television viewing (less than two hours a day) and working at least 40 hours per week.

Moderate alcohol consumption is also a factor (for women, 5g per day at most: half a small glass of wine; for men, 10g per day: one small glass of wine) and avoiding binge-drinking: never more than 5 drinks in a row.

Professor Maira Bes-Rastrollo presented the study, which is based on the publication “Lifestyle-Related Factors and Total Mortality in a Mediterranean Prospective Cohort”. In the study, researchers from the University of Navarra and Ciber-OBN Instituto de Salud Carlos III, led by Dr. Miguel Ángel Martínez, analyzed the ten factors in a sample of  22,094 volunteers.

“An interesting aspect of the study is that it shows that everyday, affordable actions substantially reduce premature death, independent of other risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol amongst others” says Professor Maira Bes-Rastrollo from the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health in the School of Medicine at the University of Navarra.

According to Liz Ruiz-Estigarribia, lead author of the publication, “this list of factors could serve as a practical and useful tool to promote a healthy lifestyle and reduce premature death in the population.  The results show the importance of developing healthy lifestyles as a key aspect of health care and health promotion”. 

Professor Maira Bes concludes that “this award recognizes the work of all the team on the SUN Project, and pays tribute to the continued participation of all the volunteers, including the first volunteers of the study who have participated for over twenty years. They have helped us show that comprehensive health promotion should be a priority”.

10 factors which reduce the risk of premature death
  1. No smoking.

  2. Moderate or intense physical exercise – equivalent to walking for at least 30 minutes a day or running for a total of 2 hours a week.

  3. Follow the Mediterranean diet.

  4. Have a healthy body mass index – that is, less than or equal to 22kg/m². 

  5. Moderate alcohol consumption. For women, 5g per day at most (half a small glass of wine (100ml), and men 10g per day (one small glass of wine).

  6. Limited television viewing: less than 2 hours a day.

  7. Avoid binge drinking: never more than 5 drinks in a row.

  8. Take a nap (30 minutes per day).

  9. Spending time with friends: more than 1 hour a day.

  10. Work at least 40 hours a week.

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