It is not rocket science – if you live longer you have more time. Today we live in an era where average life expectancy in many countries exceeds 80 years. Just one hundred years ago the life expectancy in developed countries was around 50 years. Of course we don’t all reach grand ages. This article looks at recommended ways of increasing our chances of a long and healthy life.
Given all the accidents we have as kids I am surprised anyone reaches adulthood. I am reminded of my three year old daughter who has already been hit by a car and gone head first through a glass door. I have been hit by three cars and one motor bike. The Darwin Awards which honors stupid ways people die unnecessarily further highlights the point. Previous Darwin award winners include – cutting a live power line with pruning shears; swimming in crocodile invested waters; bungee jumping 70 feet with a 70 foot cord; and, the man who on a hot night decided to sleep on his roof and then fell to his death.
Common tips on increasing our chances of living longer (and having more time) include:
A 2002 study recorded in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that adults who sleep more than 8 hours per night had a significantly higher death rate than normal. Likewise, sleeping less than 4 hours also increases death rates. Optimal sleep is around 7 hours.
As discussed in our article Why Busy People Need Exercise, research by Dr Paffenbarger (and associates) “revealed that regular physical activity was associated with an average increase in life expectancy of 1 to 2 years by the age of 80”. Numerous other studies support these findings.
What and how you eat impacts on life expectancy. Positive habits include:
Repeated studies show that regular smoking reduces both life expectancy and the number of healthy years of living.
According to Professor Dianna Olsberg (former director of the Research Centre on Ageing and Retirement at University of NSW) “the one universal characteristic of people who lived to be 100 was that they each had a project – some reason to get up the next day”. There is also evidence that having a “positive attitude” can increase life expectancy a number of years.
For some reason people with pets tend to live longer. Perhaps pets help reduce stress? I am not sure of the reasoning.
The general advice is to see your doctor regularly, and in special circumstances of discomfort or concern. Seeing a doctor can hopefully result in the early detection and prevention of a life-threatening medical problem.
Apply common sense, take calculated risks, and avoid winning a Darwin Awards.
In finishing - you might like to try the life expectancy test at the World Life Expectancy website. This website also contains interesting statistics on life expectancies including the leading causes of death (world wide) which happens to have coronary heart diseases at number 1.
Related CraveTime articles:
Kripke D.F, Garfinkel, Wingard, Klauber and Marler, Archives of General Psychiatry 59, 131 (2002).
Lee I, Hsieh C.H & Paffenbarger R, “Exercise Intensity and Longevity in Men”, JAMA, April 19, 1995, Vol 273, No 15
Walsh, B, "Eat Less, Live Longer?”, Time Magazine, 11 Feb 2010.
World Life Expectancy website, www.worldlifeexpectancy.com , accessed March 2010.