The Alameda County Study: The 7 Habits of Highly Healthy People

The Alameda County Study was designed to investigate normal daily routines and social-support factors to determine which might be risk factors for poor health and mortality in a real community. In 1965, Lester Breslow invited a sample of the population of Alameda County, California to participate in a longitudinal study on health status, social networks, and other personal characteristics. The behavior of the 6,928 people was examined over 20 years.

This study discovered seven health habits, now known as the “Alameda 7,” to be associated with physical health status and mortality in the long run. Here are the 7 habits of highly healthy people:

  1. Having never smoked
  2. Drinking less than five drinks in one sitting
  3. Sleeping 7-8 hours a night
  4. Exercising
  5. Maintaining desirable weight for height
  6. Avoid snacks
  7. Eat breakfast regularly

Breslow found that a 45-year-old who followed at least 6 of the 7 habits had a life expectancy of 11 years longer than that of a person who followed 3 or fewer. And these weren’t years stricken with disease and complication. These were strong, functional years.

What happened to Lester Breslow? He died peacefully in his home at the age of 97. He did not smoke or drink, walked regularly, practiced moderation and enjoyed tending his vegetable garden. Not a bad life.

Schoenborn, C. A. (1986). Health Habits of U.S. adults, 1985: The “Alameda 7” revisited. Retrieved from

Alameda County Study. (n.d.). Retrieved from