Reaching perimenopause has provided me with some real fodder to think about what I want for the next half of my life. It’s been a time of reflection of where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I want to go. It also has been a time to really acknowledge the limits (especially time) that each of us has in our life and also determining how to push the boundaries to have the fullest and longest life possible.
Therefore, I found Time ’s special section on “The Science of Living Longer” a good check-up on what the latest research is and what I can do to be proactive as I enter this new phase in life. Here are some of the take-aways from Alice Park’s article, “How to Live 100 Years” :
- The majority of centenarians are mentally alert and relatively free of disability. They also remain active members of their community.
- Genes are an important component of aging; however, they aren’t necessarily the most relevant factor since we have little control over there. Animal studies have found that 30% of aging is genetically based. Therefore, getting this set of factors under control can help slow the aging process both before it starts and also when you’re already in it.
- One research study found that people who live to 100and beyond don’t necessarily avoid chronic diseases of aging. Approximately 40% of them have experienced one of these illnesses, but have been able to recover without long-term problems or complications. Furthermore, when they do get sick, they are less likely to be admitted to intensive-care units and often require less expensive care per admission.
- A growing body of evidence suggests that people can improve their odds of staying mentally alert by engaging their minds through learning a new language, taking up a hobby, and maintaining a strong social network.
Additional facts from that Time issue that I found interesting included:
- Americans have a life expectancy of 78.1 years. That places us 12th in the world, behind Macau (84.4 years), Japan (82.1 years), Singapore (82.0 years), Australia (81.6 years), Canada (81.2 years), France (81 years), Sweden (80.9 years), Israel (80.7 years), Italy (80.2 years), Germany (79.3 years), and the United Kingdom (79 years). The shortest lifespan is in Angola, at 38.3 years
- In the United States, those with the longest life spans (79.8 years) live in Hawaii while those with the shortest life spans are in Washington., D.C. (72.6 years).
In that same issue of Time , Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is vice chairman and professor of surgery at Columbia University, a best-selling author, and host of The Dr. Oz Show, suggested steps that we can take in order to live longer and also live well. His recommendations include:
- Get daily rigorous physical activity. Exercise helps reinforce the need to balance, which helps prevent falls, as well as strengthens bones and the heart. “For all of the medical tests we have in our modern arsenal, the ability to exercise remains the single most powerful predictor of longevity. If you can’t walk a quarter-mile in five minutes, your chance of dying within three years is 30% greater than that of faster walkers,” he wrote.
- Get 15 minutes of sun every day or take 1,000 IU of vitamin D as well as 1,000 mg of calcium. This will promote bone strength which will help you as you exercise.
- Eat foods that look the same as when they came out of the ground. That’s because these whole foods have powerful phytochemicals and micronutrients that support the body’s rejuvenation processes.
- Sleep more than seven hours a day. Dr. Oz notes that sleep increases the levels of growth hormone which boosts vitality.
- Have a purpose for your life, whether for your family, your work, or your community.
What these Time articles reminded me (and hopefully you) is that we do have a say in how we age. We just need to commit to following Dr. Oz’s recommendations and commit to self-care. So are you with me?
Published On: April 15, 2010