Harvard scientists have observed that the shortest-living Americans are Native American populations in South Dakota, living an average lifespan of 66.5 years, whereas the longest-living Americans are Asian-American women residing in Bergen County, N.J., who live to an average lifespan of 91.1 years. That’s a nearly 25-year difference! Just think about what you could do with 25 “extra” years, particularly if you could enjoy them with sound body and mind. Here’s what science says about the best ways to stay healthy, active and vital into your older years.
|1.||Choose Wisely. A study that followed 20,000 men and women, ages 45 to 79, for 13 years found that poor lifestyle choices can shorten lifespan by as many as 14 years. The researchers found that study subjects with the lowest number of healthy behaviors were four-times more likely to die during the study period, most notably from cardiovascular disease. In fact, participants with the lowest healthy lifestyle scores had the same risk of dying as someone with the highest healthy lifestyle scores who was 14 years older.|
|2.||Why Risk It? Adding support to the above, a study of 23,153 German men and women, ages 35 to 65 years, found that four lifestyle factors slashed the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer by 80 percent: never smoking, body mass index of 30 or less, exercising 3.5 hours a week, and eating a healthy diet. The study authors concluded: “The message is clear. Adhering to 4 simple healthy lifestyle factors can have a strong impact on the prevention of chronic diseases.”|
|3.||Don’t Weight Around. A 12-year study involving more than 11,000 adult participants found that underweight people were 70 percent more likely to die during the study period compared to people of normal weight, and that the extremely obese had a 36 percent increased risk of death compared to their healthier counterparts. Interestingly, carrying a few extra pounds was found to be protective against early death; modestly overweight subjects were 17 percent less likely to die early, suggesting that when it comes to weight, eating habits, etc., moderation may be the key.|
As you can see, staying as healthy as possible for as long as possible and enjoying your golden years, rather than being weighed down by illness and disease, is in large part up to you and the choices you make now, regardless of age. The practical choices we make on an everyday basis are what help us achieve living an extended healthy lifespan. Take a little time and evaluate your current health in conjunction with your health care provider. Small, progressive changes can make a big difference in how long you live and the quality of life you enjoy