We, as a species, are living longer. In 1900, our life expectancy was 47 years. But life expectancy has risen mostly steadily since, and now we have about a 50/50 chance of living to age 80.
Growing old was once a privilege reserved for a select few, but now it is a realistic expectation for most of us.
About 75 percent of our longevity is based on our environment. Our chances of living past age 80 are affected by the quality of air we breathe, the purity of the water we drink, and our own choices about exercise, eating nutritious foods and not smoking. Only about 25 percent is based on genetics.
Since there’s a good chance you are going to grow old, I’ve got five tips on how to keep your body and mind in shape for the long haul.
- Know the reality: Understand that you have a good chance of living to an advanced age. Embrace this fact, and prepare for it.
- Challenge your body: Regular exercise and physical activity can improve our mobility as we age. Remember, a body in motion wants to stay in motion.
- Stimulate your intellect: Keep mentally active. As creatures of habit, we tend to do the same things day after day. This pattern can wrap us into a cocoon that spares us adaptation to unpredictable circumstances. Keep trying new things, and keep challenging yourself.
- Manage your emotions: Negative emotions can have negative effects on our mental and physical well-being. Appreciate the positive aspects of life and surround yourself with supportive people.
- Nurture your spirit: Find what brings you hope, peace, and love, and seek it out.
And let me add one more.
- See your doctor: Your primary care provider can help guide you to make healthy choices and may be able to help identify potential medical problems before they become serious.