Extending our healthspan. The number of people living longer is increasing dramatically. Here in Singapore, we are certainly one of the longest living nations, but the problem is that as our years increase, so do our years of poor health.
One of my main jobs is to inspire people to live a healthy life THROUGHOUT THEIR LIFE. For those who embrace this lifestyle, there are rich rewards. Centenarians (those 100 and older) are the fastest-growing subpopulation of the elderly. It is estimated that by 2050 in America (not exactly the healthiest of countries), 1 million people will have celebrated their 100th birthdays.
At the same time, a growing body of evidence suggests that good genes are only a small part of the longevity puzzle. Researchers are now convinced that chronic illness is not an inevitable consequence of aging, but it results more often from lifestyle choices that overwhelm our natural balance, lifestyle choices we can easily change.
So what are centenarians’ secrets to healthy old age? Experts recommend the following:
Embrace a Positive Attitude
Centenarians tend to be very optimistic and always hope for the best. According to research, having a positive attitude is key to the ability to live longer and can lead to a healthier, higher quality of life. Researchers speculate that positive emotions may directly affect overall health, perhaps through direct mechanisms, such as immune function, or indirectly, for example, by strengthening social support networks.
Stimulate Your Mind
Research shows the more educated we are, the longer we live. And the benefits of education are even more pronounced when learning continues throughout our lives. Most centenarians take advantage of opportunities and possibilities that have not been available to them earlier in their lives, such as travel, a second career, volunteer activities, music lessons, learning a second language, writing, or enrolling in various classes to pursue new interests.
Extending Our Healthspan by Limiting Stress and Staying Connected
Protect your mental and physical health by managing your stress at work and home. Humor, meditation, exercise, and optimism are good ways to naturally reduce stress and relieve tension.
Stay in touch with family and friends. Those who maintain a close network of social support do best. Social contacts may encourage us to take better care of ourselves—by cutting down on smoking and drinking, for example, or seeking medical treatment earlier for symptoms that may indicate serious problems. Friends may also help us get through difficult times by offering coping mechanisms and having a positive effect on mood and self-esteem.
Take Advantage of Your Genes
Good health practices will help you make up for at least some of the genetic differences between you and centenarians. Essentially, you can compensate for bad genes by healthy living—or ruin perfectly good genes with poor habits. It works both ways. Smoking and excessive alcohol intake, for example, will increase the risk of many chronic diseases.
Support Your Body with Exercise
Find fun ways to stay in shape, such as dancing, gardening, swimming, walking or jogging. Include strength training, as directed by a personal trainer or health care provider, to maintain muscle mass. Increased muscle tissue burns fat more efficiently, reduces your heart disease risk, and lessens your chance of a broken hip from falling. For adults, a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week is recommended. That shouldn’t be too difficult as brisk walking does count.
Extending our Healthspan and Make Healthy Diet Choices
What you eat and drink—and what you don’t eat and drink—can make a big difference to your health. To prevent weight gain and maintain good health, pay special attention to eating efficiently. Choose foods that maximize nutritional value and minimize calories.
Overly processed foods often contain more calories and fewer nutrients. Instead choose, whole, natural foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, good (unsaturated) fats, nuts, legumes and healthy sources of protein (white meat, fish and eggs).
Choose a Good Health Care Provider
Even if you are healthy and make good preventative choices, it is essential to have access to a good, trustworthy health care provider.
A health care provider should:
- Know and support all forms of healing and various approaches to health care to present patients with the most effective, safest preventative or treatment options available.
- Emphasize prevention and whole-person wellness.
- Teach healthy living practices.
- Involve patients in decisions regarding their care—except for acute, potentially life-threatening emergencies.
- Encourage patients to be responsible for their health.
Extending Our Healthspan with Chiropractic Care
Your Chiropractor will keep you in the best alignment possible, helping you maintain strength and resilience. You will have better oxygenation due to better posture, better balance, and improved alignment of weight-bearing joints. This will create less pain and less arthritis. We want to keep going as long as possible.
Do talk to your Chiropractor about other ways to improve your quality of life. Doctors of chiropractic are trained and licensed to examine and treat the entire body with specific emphasis on the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, wellness and prevention.
Always remember that most of us are genetically designed for robust health and vitality well into our senior years. Just respect your body and mind – don’t allow the balancing, restorative, ‘homeostatic’ controls to be overwhelmed. Give the body what it wants, look after the Pillars of Health; Exercise, Nutrition, Quality Restorative Sleep, Minimizing Stress, Structural Alignment and maintaining a Healthy Nervous System.
Take an interest, share this newsletter with loved ones and try one of our many free health talks and workshops in our clinics across the island.