According to a new study, not only can following a few simple guidelines for a healthy lifestyle help you live longer, it can significantly improve your quality of life at the same time. The study, conducted at Tufts University, found that by making a few healthy changes to their lifestyles, seniors were able to cut their risk of developing heart failure in half.

Heart failure, a condition in which the heart becomes unable to pump enough blood to sustain the body, affects more than five million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It's often a fatal diagnosis, with half of all those diagnosed dying within five years.

The study followed 4,490 people over age 65 for 21 years, collecting data on lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, leisure activities, alcohol use and smoking status. Over the course of the study, 1,380 of the participants developed heart failure.

The researchers found that there were five major lifestyle factors tied to lower heart failure risk: taking brisk walks, exercising during leisure time, drinking moderately, not smoking and staying at a healthy weight. Study participants who met at least four of these five criteria were found to be only half as likely to develop heart failure as those who met one or less.

"A key finding is that physical activity among older adults does not have to be strenuous to reduce heart failure risk," lead author Liana Del Gobbo told Reuters Health. "We saw benefits for adults who walked at moderate or brisk pace (more than 2 or 3 miles per hour) and burned calories through leisure activity… equivalent to about 30 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activity."

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