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Public Health - About
Archive for February, 2010
Monday, February 1st, 2010

In the US in 1900, life expectancy for women was about 48 years, and 46 years for men.  By 1950, it had climbed to 71 years for women, and 66 for men.  Today, healthy women can expect to live roughly 80 years, and men 75.  Of course, we frequently hear stories of individuals defying all age projections, and living to be age 90, 100, or above!

Most experts agree that increases in lifespan are attributable to better nutrition, health care, and disease prevention and treatment.  Additionally, research is also identifying personal traits and health habits that aid in healthy aging.  They include:

1.    Adequate Amount of Rest:  Getting the right amount of sleep is important to our health and lifespan.  Sometimes we may wonder just what the right amount really is.  In a recent Duke University study, optimal longevity appeared to be produced when we receive seven hours of sleep per night.  Study participants reporting either more than eight hours or less than five hours had, on average, shorter lifespans.

2.    Healthy Eating:  In a Stanford University study of 20,000 participants, eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, drinking alcohol only moderately, exercising regularly, and not smoking were habits associated with a potential 14 extra years of life.

3.    Be a Friend/Make a Friend:  When it comes to longevity, having a network of close pals may be equally as valuable as close family relations.  Psychologists confirm that people with a solid, positive social network are 22 percent less likely to die unhappy, depressed, or prematurely.

4.    Stimulate the Brain:  Your mind and body will wither unless you use them.  Exercise for your mind and body is essential to a long healthy life.  Most people want to live independent lives as long as possible.  Simple mind exercises such as crossword puzzles, board games, or reading can stimulate you into the next decade.

5.    Manage your Middle:  Maintaining a healthy body weight and trim waistline is our next key to longevity.   A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that waist circumference was a strong predictor of mortality.  Measurements of more than 44 inches in men, or 41 inches in women were associated with 25 percent higher mortality rates.

6.    Fresh Air and Sunshine:  Reports of a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a reduction in air pollution in cities between 1978 and 2001 was estimated to have increased the lifespan of city dwellers by five to ten months, depending on the amount of pollution reduced.  Additionally, those who received at least two hours of sunlight daily reported fewer bouts with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

So incorporate these key health habits and add to the length and quality of your life.