There are proven and effective ways we can extend our lifespan without the need for futuristic drugs and therapies. Here are five ways to significantly improve life expectancy.
Aside from ageing itself, smoking is the leading cause of non-communicable chronic disease, and studies suggest that smoking cuts 10 years off a person’s life. The good news is that those who stop smoking before the age of 35 can regain most of that lost decade, while those who wait until middle age can still regain half of it.
An often overlooked aspect of health, serious mental illness can reduce life expectancy by between 10 and 20 years – more than smoking, according to research. While not as easy to avoid as smoking, those suffering from mental illness can still benefit from seeking help.
Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of almost all major drivers of age-related mortality, from heart disease to diabetes to dementia. Exercise can also reduce depression and anxiety. If a pharmaceutical product had the equivalent effect to 30 minutes of moderate exercise, it would be hailed as a miracle drug, yet according to the WHO only 1 in 4 adults get the recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.
Just as exercise lowers most causes of age–related mortality, being overweight or obese appears to accelerate many aspects of the ageing process. Conversely, calorie restriction and fasting have been shown to protect against many age–related diseases.
While not something we can control, the genes we are born with have a significant role to play in predicting life expectancy. Women live 6-8 years longer than men, which may be partly due to how the immune system ages. Many genes also affect risk of developing age–related diseases. Twin studies have suggested that 20-30% of a person’s chance of living to 85 is down to their genes. While we cannot change our genes, recognising a family history of a disease can at least allow us to take early protective measures.
Combined Impact of Health Behaviours and Mortality in Men and Women: The EPIC-Norfolk Prospective Population Study: https://doi.org/10.3928/00485713-20100804-08
Many mental illnesses reduce life expectancy more than heavy smoking: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-05-23-many-mental-illnesses-reduce-life-expectancy-more-heavy-smoking
Regular exercise reduces large number of health risks including dementia and some cancers, study finds: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101115074040.htm
Obesity May Accelerate the Aging Process: https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2019.00266
Live Long and Proper: Genetic Factors Associated with Increased Longevity Identified: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/genetic-factors-associated-with-increased-longevity-identified/
Sexual-dimorphism in human immune system aging: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-14396-9