Do you want to live a long life? What if you can fill that life with rich, high-quality years of activity and personal engagement?
The good news is that we can live longer, healthier lives by making good choices now.
Only 100 years ago, the average lifespan was 58 to 60 years. Now we’re living into our 80s.
Some of the increase in our longevity, about 10% to 15%, can be attributed to our genes. The rest depends on where we live, our access to health care, and especially our personal lifestyle habits.
Yes, you knew this was coming. The better we eat and the more we move, the bigger the difference in how long and well we live.
Taking care of our health doesn’t begin at 50. It’s never too soon to start. Prevention is more important than a cure.
For example, every decade of high cholesterol levels after age 30 can double to quadruple your risk for cardiovascular disease in your 60s. Other research suggests that making healthful lifestyle choices can help prevent up to two-thirds of cancer. Also, “sitting is the new smoking” when it comes to negatively impacting your health.
The point is not to limp along toward our last decade, but to be vigorous until the end of our lives.
A recent study published by the American Geriatrics Society reported that people are living longer, better-quality years, and the illnesses that eventually take us away happen over a more compressed period – the last few weeks or months of life.
To help make this happen to us, we can take lessons from the “Blue Zones.” These are unique regions around the world that researchers have identified where people live significantly longer than elsewhere.
These diverse communities have strikingly similar themes for longevity. Their members are physically active, but not necessarily with formal exercise; they walk everywhere, and spend much of their time enjoying physical pursuits such as gardening. They also eat a plant-based diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. And they are not overweight.
They also have a positive and hopeful outlook on life. Even more importantly, they have purpose and are connected to their family and community members.
Our frame of mind is also very important in keeping us healthy. Stress makes us more vulnerable to illness. When looking at ways to improve your health, don’t underestimate the power of your mind-body connection.
If you’re not sure where to start making improvements or which preventive health measures to take now, visit your doctor for guidance. An open relationship with your doctor is key. But it doesn’t stop there. Having access to a team of health-care providers goes a long way in addressing your individual health risks.
For example, if you suffer from hypertension, you may benefit from visiting a dietitian to review your diet. And if you’re unsure about how to fit exercise into your schedule, a kinesiologist will be able to tailor a program for your specific lifestyle.
It may feel challenging to make decisions about our health now that will affect our later years – a time that may seem so far away. But think of it this way: taking a comprehensive approach will give you not only better long-term health outcomes, but also the added benefit of a healthier life now. You don’t need to wait a long time for results.
By visiting your doctor, or, better yet, an entire team of integrated caregivers such as Copeman Healthcare, you can begin the process of actively managing or improving your current vitality for a lifetime of vibrant health.