While most of us have accepted that aging is a natural part of life, we’ve tried our hardest to fight some of the cosmetic changes that come along with it. Wrinkles, skin spots, and gray hair are just a few examples of what one experiences with every passing decade of his or her life. It hasn’t been until recently, however, that these cosmetic nuisances have taken a back seat to the idea of longevity and how we can increase it.
What Is Longevity?
Longevity is defined as the average life span of a person under ideal conditions, those conditions often referring to proper diet and exercise. While the average life span of a person has increased, it wasn’t that long ago that it was normal to only live to your 50s.
As medical advancements continue, however, the average life span increases. Now, scientists, food activists, and health care professionals are diving into what diet, exercise, supplements, and lifestyle changes human beings can partake in to best extend their longevity.
What Affects Longevity?
It’s believed that longevity is linked to leading a healthy diet and exercise. What type of diet and exercise is healthy is hotly debated, however, most agree that avoiding bad habits (i.e. smoking, drinking excessively, stressful behaviors) hurt your chances of living a long life.
When the topic of longevity is brought up, many are under the assumption that genetics determine one’s longevity. The truth is, however, your genes only determine about 30% of your life expectancy.
Researchers are finding that your behavior, attitude, and environment are more likely to determine how long you live. Here are some commonly agreed upon ideas about what increases one’s longevity:
Get adequate exercise on a daily basis
Most researchers agree that one of the most crucial factors affecting longevity is exercise. Older people often maintain physical activity throughout their life. Researchers have also found that shedding extra weight reduces one’s BMI (body mass index), which increases the chances of living a longer life.
Eat mostly vegetables and fruits
There are multiple studies done on people who follow a mostly vegetarian diet, meaning the majority of their diet is made up of vegetables and fruits. These studies often indicate a link between their diet and long lives, attributing their longevity to their vegetarian diet.
Get enough sleep every night
Most agree that seven to nine hours of sleep is adequate for allowing your body to receive the proper amount of rest. Sleep is vital for not only your physical health but mental health too.
Manage your stress
The effects of stress on the body have been well-documented and often point to diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Researchers have found that while productivity does not decrease longevity, any stress from productivity in the home or office can.
Be social and spend time with loved ones
Believe it or not, being social and having great relationships increases longevity. You may be thinking that being social has nothing to do with diet, exercise, or the health of your body, but spending time with friends and family can decrease stress and prevent many mental health conditions that can result from the lack of social stimulus.
Live a Full Life
When researchers often study the elderly, including those who live to their late nineties or over 100 years old, they often find that these individuals have lived full lives. These people who seem to defy aging often describe their life as mentally, physically, and socially engaging.
These individuals treat their bodies well, maintain positive attitudes, and avoid negative behaviors and habits. So while what you exactly eat or what exercise you partake in may be highly contested, most agree that longevity is a result of a fulfilling life that has been well-cared for.
Can You Lengthen Your Life? (2017, July 19). Retrieved March 29, 2018, from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2016/06/can-you-lengthen-your-life
Stibich, M. (n.d.). How Do You Increase Your Chances of Having a Long Life? Retrieved March 29, 2018, from https://www.verywell.com/what-is-longevity-2223930