Is Your Lifestyle Killing You?

The average life expectancy in the U.S. today is 76 years. Depending on your lifestyle, you may go well beyond that. Here’s a little test to give you an estimate of your expected lifespan. You start with the number 76, and add or subtract from that average.

Exercise: Do you exercise vigorously at least three times a week? If you do, add 3 years to 76. If not, subtract 3 years.

Diet: Do you avoid bad fats and processed foods and, instead, choose lots of omega-3-rich fish and grass-fed beef? If so, add 2 years.

Weight: Are you at a healthy weight? If you’re overweight by 50 pounds or more, subtract 8 years. Thirty to 40 pounds, subtract 4. Ten to 29 pounds, subtract 2.

Blood Pressure: If you know your blood pressure, add 1 year.

Drinking: Do you have more than two alcoholic drinks (cocktails, beer, or wine) a day? If you do, subtract 1 year. And for each additional daily drink, subtract 2 more. (Remember what I said yesterday: One to seven drinks a week is healthy – no more.)

Smoking: If you smoke more than two packs of cigarettes a day, subtract 8 years. One to two packs a day, subtract 6. One-half to one pack, subtract 3.

Driving: Have you received a traffic ticket or been involved in a traffic accident in the past year? If so, subtract 4 years. Other violations, subtract 1. If you always wear your seatbelt, add one.

Working vs. Retiring: If you are 65 or older and are still working, add 3 years.

Relaxation: If you take a relaxed approach to life, add 3 years. If you’re aggressive, driven, or anxious, subtract 3. And if you consider yourself “unhappy,” subtract another year.

Gender: Since women tend to live longer than men, add 3 years if you’re a woman. If you’re a man, subtract 3.

Age: How long you’ve already lived matters. If you’re between the ages of 30 and 39, add 2 years. Forty to 49, add 3. Fifty to 69, add 4. Seventy or older, add 5.

Family History: If any grandparent reached age 85, add 2 years. If all your grandparents reached age 80, add 6. If one of your parents died of a stroke or heart attack before the age of 50, subtract 4.

Based on the above categories, determine what you need to work on. Do you need to exercise more? Eat better? Lose weight? Just because your father died from a heart attack doesn’t mean that is your destiny. You have information he may not have had. Look at the diseases that run in your family and work to lower your risk factors. You can start – today – to improve your longevity by making positive changes.

(Resource: The Longevity Game, by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company)

[Ed. Note: Dr. Sears, a practicing physician and the author of The Doctor’s Heart Cure and 12 Secrets to Virility, is a leading authority on longevity, physical fitness, and heart health. For more advice on how to stay active and mobile – far into old age – pick up your free copy of Youth Secrets.]

Al Sears has written six books and more than 500 articles in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging and nutritional supplementation. He enjoys a worldwide readership of millions spread over 123 countries and has appeared on more than 50 national radio programs, ABC News, CNN and ESPN. In The Doctor’s Heart Cure, Dr. Sears exposes the real causes of the modern epidemic of heart disease with practical how-to advice for building real heart strength and resistance to disease without drugs. It is available in nine languages and remains a bestseller three years after its publication. His 12 Secrets to Virility sheds light on the huge environmental and nutritional problems with virility in our modern world and gives men a step-by step guide for maintaining health, strength and masculinity as they age. It became a bestseller during its first month of release. His latest book Your Best Health Under the Sun addresses the myths of the sun’s dangers and gives readers an action plan for restoring this important natural resource for better mood, strength, energy and nutritional health.Dr. Sears is board certified as a Clinical Nutrition Specialist and was appointed to the international panel of experts at Health Sciences Institute, (HSI) a worldwide information service for alternative nutritional therapies. A master gardener and herbalist, Dr. Sears maintains an herbal apothecary of more than 250 organic herbs used for research, education and treatments. Dr. Sears is the founder and director of The Wellness Research Foundation, conducting original research evaluating natural alternatives to pharmaceutical therapies.Dr. Sears is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and is board certified in Anti-Aging Medicine. As a pioneer in this new field of medicine, he is an avid researcher and sought-after lecturer to thousands of doctors and health enthusiasts. He is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. As well as being a sports and fitness coach and a lifelong advocate of exercise programs, Dr. Sears is an ACE-certified fitness trainer. He maintains his integrative clinic and research center in Florida, where he has developed novel exercise and nutritional systems transforming the lives of more than 20,000 patients.