Genetics aren’t the only predictor of life expectancy — much of the control rests in our own hands. Two studies offer insight on what we can do to increase our chances of living till 90.
Body Size and Physical Activity Play a Big Role
A new study from the Netherlands suggests that your likelihood of living till 90 depends partly on your height, weight, and level of physical activity.
This study began in 1986, when researchers queried 7,000 men and women between 55 and 69 concerning their weight at age 20, current weight, height, and current physical activity.
The researchers continued monitoring the participants until they passed away or turned 90, taking into account habits that might influence life expectancy, such as smoking and alcohol consumption.
For women, height and weight played a major role. Women over 5 feet 9 inches had a 31% greater likelihood of reaching 90 years old than those who were shorter than 5 feet 3 inches. And women who weighed less at 20 and had gained less since then had a greater chance of living longer than women who weighed and gained more.
Activity level was the main indicator for men. Men who were active for 90 minutes or more a day had a 39% greater chance of reaching 90 than those who spent less than 30 minutes being active. What’s more, men increased their likelihood of reaching 90 by 5% for every 30 minutes of daily exercise they performed.
Unlike men, women saw no increased life expectancy with higher activity levels; and exercising for 60 minutes or more a day only increased their chances of reaching 90 by 21% compared to those who exercised for 30 minutes or less. The study found women’s optimal daily activity level to be just 60 minutes.
Lifestyle Choices Make All the Difference
Three of the top five causes of death in the United States are heart disease, cancer, and stroke — all of which are related to low activity levels and weight gain.
Smokers were only half as likely to reach 90 as nonsmokers. Those with diabetes and high blood pressure were 86% and 28%, respectively, more likely to have died by 90.
While we can’t assume that these choices affect men and women in the same way, it’s safe to say that making healthy choices early on and throughout your life will have a positive impact on your longevity.
What healthy habits have you adopted in preparation for the years ahead?
Featured image via TONL