Is getting old actually necessary? Kind of an odd question. The quick answer is, yes of course it’s necessary. Everyone gets old and everyone dies. It’s a fact of life. That’s not such a bad thing anyway. It would be weird to actually live forever.
But what isn’t weird is our desire to feel and function our best for all the years we have. Lifespan is the number of years we’re alive. Healthspan is the number of years we’re active, healthy, functional, and independent.
What can we do to increase our healthspan, or at least increase our odds of having a long healthspan? Let’s consider some possibilities…
Supplements. There are a variety of fancy new supplements available that supposedly address aging at the cellular level. But do these age-defying supplements actually work? Too early to tell.
Sleep. It seems that better sleep would help, right? Better and longer sleep helps the body heal and regenerate every night.
Diet. Eating better surely helps us live longer and better. A nutrient-dense, low or no sugar diet with a focus on vegetables, healthy fats (avocados, olive oil, nuts), and plenty of lean protein gives the body the basic building blocks for health.
But there’s one anti-aging intervention all the experts agree is the single most important thing you can do to increase your healthspan; and there’s a ton of research to support it. I bet you know what it is.
Exercise. Of all the cutting edge research that’s going into supplements, sleep, and diet, the research clearly shows that exercise is the number one most important thing you can do to increase your healthspan. Every single one of the anti-aging researchers and docs that I pay attention to have very active exercise programs themselves.
Exercise may seem like an anti-climactic answer to the healthspan question. And you’re already doing it, right? Good going! However, most of us should be exercising more than we are currently. For example, all of these types of exercise are important:
1. Moderate cardio-respiratory movement (walking, hiking, swimming, jogging, cycling) every day
2. Resistance/stability exercises to maintain muscle mass, bone density, and strong hips, knees, and ankles
3. Mobility (stretching for muscles and range-of-motion for joints)
4. Tall posture (you must maintain your posture or else you will eventually lose your posture)
5. Deep, purposeful breathing every day (every year we lose a little bit of our breath capacity unless we practice it)
DO these five things regularly to increase your odds of having a healthspan that’s as long as your lifespan.
DON’T do these things and you increase your risk of having years of living WITHOUT your health, functionality, and independence late in life.