It can be difficult to conceptualize the impact that an unhealthy lifestyle can have on our overall health. Health-adjusted lifestyle expectancy (HALE) provides the relative life expectancy we can assume based on our current lifestyle. HALE provides the number of years a person can expect to live in good health, based on the current patterns of mortality and morbidity. This metric essentially adjusts your life expectancy based on the amount of time you have lived in less than perfect health. It factors in various demographics and healthy lifestyle factors, such as smoking, diabetes, physical activity, diet, and others. Rather than reporting how much our risk of death is increased with certain habits or behaviors, this metric provides an easier way of understanding the impact on our life expectancy.
Your HALE score will tell you your predicted future health years and your predicted future unhealthy years, or the time you can expect to live in poor health or disability. Additionally, it will provide your predicted life expectancy. An important factor to note is that this metric does not take into consideration genetics or other diseases/disabilities an individual may have.
This new tool is important as it provides an expected life expectancy based on your current lifestyle patterns. While initial values may be shocking, it is important to note that lifestyle adjustments can be made to increase your life expectancy and improve your health. The HALE provides how your lifestyle impacts your healthy life expectancy by providing recommendations for ways you can improve your lifestyle. For example, it will note how much time you could add onto your life expectancy by improving your exercise.
It is important to note that it is never too late! Research has shown that even adopting five healthy lifestyle habits midlife (age 50) can add up to 10 years to your life (i.e., exercising, healthy diet, healthy weight, not smoking, alcohol in moderation). Each single lifestyle change that is made will help an individual live longer and better. The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing interpretation for your HALE score and providing consultations specific to exercise, nutrition, goal setting, and overall health. We can help provide support for adhering to living a healthier life. If you are interested in learning your HALE score, you can click on the link here:
By Matt Lewandowski
Sources: Health Status Statistics: Mortality – Healthy life expectancy (HALE). World Health Organization.; Healthy Life Expectancy Calculator, developed by the Goldenson Center at the University of Connecticut, retrieved from: https://apps.goldensoncenter.uconn.edu/HLEC/.; Mehta, M. & Myrskyla, N. (2017). The population health benefits of a healthy lifestyle: Life expectancy increased and onset of disability delayed. Health Affairs, 36(8), 1495-1502; Li et al. (2018). Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population. Circulation, 137(2).