It’s no secret that eating well, getting plenty of exercise and abstaining from bad habits such as smoking and excessive drinking will lead to a longer and better quality of life. Those facts have been proven time and again. There are a few surprising factors when it comes to longevity however.
The Hawaii Lifespan Study
In 1965, a 40-year study began that examined the survival rates of a number of Japanese men over the term. The average age of the participant was 54 when the study began and none of the men involved had any underlying medical conditions at commencement.
The study offered nine lifestyle factors that were recommended for optimal health and longevity. These included being married, maintaining a healthy weight, low blood sugar and low blood pressure, having a higher education, possessing a strong grip in representation of physical strength, having a low level of bad cholesterol and abstaining from smoking and heavy drinking.
The men that followed the healthy criteria recommendations had an 80 percent chance of living to the age of 80 and avoiding illness. 42 percent of these men lived to the age of 85 while 11 percent of them remained free from illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. While this study followed men specifically, the same general advice can be applied to women as well.
Exercise. Your Biggest Factor.
Survival of the fittest. That statement could not ring more true. Those that are fit and strong have the greatest chance of surviving and thriving. If you need even more proof that regular exercise will improve your chances of living longer, here it is. A Japanese study followed over 83,000 Japanese men and women for a number of years, examining their lifestyle in regards to exercise.
After the ten year study came to close, it was concluded that the groups of both men and women that participated in the greatest amount of regular, physical activity showed lower premature death rates than the sedentary groups. The rates of heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and cancer were lower in the active individuals.
Exercise has long been shown to offer exceptional health benefits. The list of disorders and diseases that can potentially be avoided if regular exercise is a daily routine is extensive.
Possibly most importantly, exercise aids in maintaining a healthy weight. Obesity is a very high-risk condition and completely preventable through diet and exercise. Being overweight will raise the incidence of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol and certain cancers. All of these are precursors to premature death.
Along with potentially preventing the direct causes of death, regular exercise can aid in easing other ailments that may indirectly affect longevity. Disorders like depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder and other mental health conditions can be greatly improved through adopting a consistent workout routine.
Physical strength has a direct correlation to longevity as well. Elderly people are more prone to falls due to weaker muscles and more fragile bones. Strength training and certain sports like tennis, gymnastics and sprinting improve bone density as well muscular strength.
A lifelong commitment to any impact or weight bearing activity, no matter how late you may start, will offer protective benefits that will prolong your life and protect you from the devastating, bone breaking, potentially fatal falls in later years.
A happy marriage offers mental and physical benefits to both men and women. The key word there is happy. A strong, supportive relationship appears to benefit men more than women in a physical sense, while women benefit more in a mental way.
This may be because women receive the metal and emotional support that they need from a supportive, loving partner, while men are physically taken care of by their wife. Women will tend to their husbands ailments, encourage medical check ups and notice concerning symptoms more readily than their husbands. This can greatly improve preventative health care in men.
Higher education often leads to higher income, social class and better health care. All of these seem to contribute to a person’s health status, regardless of sex.
Statistically speaking, an additional 4 years of education lowers the mortality rate by 1.8 percent by reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes considerably. The main reason for the correlation between education and longevity appears to be behavior based.
Educated individuals are less likely to smoke, drink excessively, and engage in the use of illicit drugs and other reckless behavior. They also are more likely to participate in a regular fitness program, seek medical attention when necessary and maintain a healthier diet.
The extra income may also pose an advantage. Those with a higher income can often afford premium health care and more nutritious food.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight has numerous health consequences in both men and women alike. Being overweight, or worse yet, obese, can lead to higher LDL levels, high blood sugar and blood sugar imbalances and an increase in blood pressure. All of these factors are a recipe for premature death as they are the leading causes of life threatening illnesses such as heart disease, stoke and diabetes.
Once again, a combination of a nutrient dense, calorie controlled diet, rich in whole foods along with regular exercise is the best defense against poor health and the most efficient way to enjoy a long, healthy life.
Smoking and Drinking
Last but most definitely not least, are the no brainers when it comes to what to avoid if you hope to live past the age of 80. We have now had proof for numerous decades that smoking is akin to committing slow suicide. Both first hand and second smoke should be avoided at all costs.
There is a big difference between social drinking and excessive drinking. While enjoying the occasional glass of red wine may offer some health benefits, a daily bottle will do the opposite.
Excessive alcohol consumption leads to excessive calories in the diet, which will cause weight gain. A bad habit of drinking may also contribute to other bad behaviors such as smoking, poor choices in nutrition and reckless behavior. Eliminate or at least closely monitor alcohol consumption if you hope to be around to see your Grandkids.
While most of these may be things you’re heard before, it never hurts to have a reminder. Our daily habits and the choices we make, create a balance that can have our health and quality of life going in either direction. Use these tips to keep your health on track and enjoy every moment of a long, happy life.
[Ed. Note. One of my goals is to live a vigorous life to the age of 105. It's a goal that I review regularly to remind myself that my lifestyle must be congruent. My vision dictates my action. Watch my goal setting webinar here to discover the best way to set goals for your life, health, and wealth.]