Ways to live longer A century ago, 60 would have been measured a fine old age and anything over this something of an unexpected bonus. In 2002, the typical lifespan for both sexes in the western world hovers around 80, and the phrase “three score years and ten " , until in recent times use to denote a typical life expectancy, is now heard far less often. Certainly, the number of centenarians is increasing at a balanced rate. So, why with the change? What is it that has altered us from a population dying at an age most of us now think of as late middle age, to one expecting to still be going strong well past 70? The answer is, as with so much of medicine, a mixture of factors. Some of these are general points such as development in medicines and healthcare, Sanitation and housing whereas others are linked to lifestyle choice - what we eat, how we exercise, how meticulous we are about safety and how we now access health information more willingly, to name but a few. All these factors and more have lengthened the ability of our body to tolerate the inevitable havoc of ageing that are programmed into every cell. Advances in medicine (especially in the field of genetic in sickness screening) enable people who would or else have died much earlier not only to be kept breathing but also to lead fruitful and enjoyable life at the same time. This touches on a key point, and one that I will revisit to more often. This is not an article about trying to get to the age of 100 at any cost. Life is for living, and I see far too many people who reach a point in their lives where - usually owing to sickness - they are simply waiting for God. Living longer should always aim to engross enjoying rather than enduring, and I would personally chose to live a shorter and fruitful, happy life than a wretched one for the sake of reaching 3 figures. Allowing for a development quality of life, rather than wasting energy on trying changing the things we cannot. A good example of this, and I often see in people, is an unquestioning obedience to a low fat diet while at the same time abiding to smoke or failing to take any kind of regular exercise. By focusing on one small risk issue and one which has already caused damage long ago ; such patient rebuff themselves one of the greatest pleasures in life - Eating good food - even in mood - temperance , become miserable as a result and, by ignoring other more important risk factor in their live, do little to improve their overall health. There is nothing in this world than a health bore, and a health bore following a mindless goal of living longer, whatever the cause should be avoided at any price! I lead what I think to be a healthy lifestyle - I do not smoke, I exercise regularly and in moderation (usually through a combination of walking my dog and gardening) I gave up marathon years ago! I watch what I eat and I keep my weight down. But I'm not outsider to fish and chips. A drop of wine and standing on my head in the local swimming pool with my children, it is the patent of our life that affect our long term health rather than the infrequent fried meal and a drink or two - A point worth repeating often. When talking about living long and healthy life, we cannot take any notice of the degree in which luck can play a part. I'm sure every reader, we, cannot ignore the degree to which luck can play a part. I am sure every reader can reflect of a distant Uncle Albert who daily smoked three packs of full strength cigarettes and refined of a bottle of whisky, yet lived to be 106 before he was killed in a hang gliding misfortune. Well, such freaks of nature do exist and always will. The problem , though , is that such people are trotted out as some form of scientific verification that smoking and heavy drinking do you no destruction at all, and that ' it doesn’t matter what you do in your life - just look at old Uncle Albert. Such homilies are usually distinct by the speaker with a degree of conceit that suggest they feel the blessing of St Albert will keep them in rude health however they choose to live their life. Regrettably, the Uncle Albert theory of old age falls down when it realized that for every such extraordinary anomaly in the laws of medicine , the remaining 99.9% of those attempting to impersonate it have done the usual thing , followed the common rule of life and died prematurely. Basically there are three major factors that we can do nothing about and which may affect our ability to reach a ripe old age. The first is being male. Sorry guys, but women do tend to live longer than men. The second is getting older. It's obvious really - as our bodies age the chances of something going wrong with them increase. Thirdly, family or genetic history plays a more crucial part in how long we live than most of us realize. Just as people whose parents and grandparents survived into their nineties or beyond tend to die at a more advance age than the age of the population, so those whose forebears die young appear to be less likely to live on and on. Fortunately, this principle is not carved in stone, but as general rule it remains valid. Incidentally, in writing about this topic, it seems sensible to consider those people who live the longest in the world and try to find out what they are doing right and perhaps try to copy it. One such group inhabits the Japanese island of Okinawa. Later on, I will looking in detail at some of the secrets of their remarkable longevity, but for the moment I will leave you with an Okinawan saying " At 70 , you are still a child, at 80, a young person. And if at 90, someone from heaven invites you over, tell him ; " Just go away and come back when I am 100"
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