Do you want to know the secret to living a longer and healthier life?
Researchers have explored, to a largely successful degree, ways to prolong the healthy lifespan of worms, mice, and even monkeys.
Their work has revealed exciting new clues about the biology of aging. But solid evidence still shows that the best way to boost your chances of living a long and active life is to follow the advice you likely heard from your parents: eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and stay away from bad habits.
People born in the Uganda today can expect to live to an average age of about 63. Twenty years ago, life expectancy was about 40 years.
And now it is believed that if you make it to age 65, your likelikhood of living until 80 is very high. And if you make it to 85, the likelihood that you will make it to 92 is high. So people are living longer, and it is happening across the globe.
Older people tend to be healthier nowadays, too. Research has shown that certain behaviour can help you stay active and healthy into your 60s, 70s, and beyond.
In fact, a long-term study of Seventh-day Adventists, a religious group with a generally healthy lifestyle, shows that they tend to remain healthier into old age. Their life expectancy is nearly ten years longer on average than most individuals. The Adventists’ age-enhancing behaviour include regular exercise, a vegetarian diet, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight.
A big body of evidence from geriatric research shows that, if rank was given to behaviour in terms of priority, exercise would be the most important thing associated with living longer and healthier. Exercise is especially important for lengthening active life expectancy, which is life without disease and without physical and mental/ thinking disability.
Another sure way to improve your chances for a longer, healthier life is to shed excess weight.
Being obese with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30 is a risk factor for early death, and it shortens your active life expectancy. BMI is an estimate of your body fat based on your weight and height.
Studies in animals have found that certain types of dietary changes such as extremely low-calorie diets can lead to longer, healthier lives.
These studies offer clues to the biological processes that affect healthy aging. But to date, calorie-restricted diets and other dietary changes have had mixed results in extending the healthy lives of people.
Not smoking is another pathway to a longer, healthier life. There is no question that smoking is a hard habit to break, so it is worthwhile making the effort to stop smoking too.
People used to say, ‘the older you get the sicker you get,’ but with common sense, healthy habits such as regular exercise, a healthy weight, avoiding red meat, not smoking, and managing stress, it can be ‘the older you get, the healthier you will be’.