Men can improve their longevity – and their overall health – by making just a few simple lifestyle changes.
While aging is inevitable, feeling older doesn’t have to be. A number of anti-aging strategies can hold back the hands of time and improve health and longevity for men.
“Only about 25 percent of what determines longevity is in a man’s genes,” says Stephan Quentzel, MD, a family physician, psychiatrist, and assistant professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. That means the rest is up to you. Healthy lifestyle choices can add years to your life. Here’s what every man needs to know to promote longevity and live to a ripe, old age.
Longevity in Men: What You Can Expect
The average life expectancy in the United States for men is 77.8 years. Women outlive men by 5 years, possibly because potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease and cancer are more common in men, according to National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. One reason: Estrogen protects women from heart disease until after menopause. It’s unknown why cancer rates are higher in men, but preventive health care may play a role: Women are twice as likely as men to see a doctor for regular checkups and screenings.
The good news is that it’s possible to beat the longevity odds. A 2006 NIA-sponsored study of longevity concluded that men with healthy habits and no risk factors had a 69-percent chance of living to age 85. Factors found to negatively affect longevity included smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, being overweight, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and poor physical fitness (measured by grip strength). Men with all of these risk factors had less than a 25 percent chance of living to age 85. Fortunately, all of these risk factors can be improved with lifestyle changes.
Longevity in Men: Anti-Aging Strategies for Men
There is no scientific evidence that anti-aging supplements, such as growth hormone, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), and testosterone, can improve longevity. On the other hand, lifestyle changes have proven longevity benefits. Here are six tried-and-true strategies for living longer:
- Anti-Aging Strategy #1: Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can take three years off your life, while obesity can slash seven years off your life. Additionally, a 2008 Kaiser Permanente study of 6,500 men and women found that those who accumulated lots of belly fat in their forties were almost three times more likely to develop dementia in their seventies.
- Anti-Aging Strategy #2: Watch your diet. Steer clear of fast food — it’s loaded with salt, which increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Some studies suggest that a healthy diet of 25- to 40-percent fewer calories than normal may help longevity, but the studies have only been conducted in animals. On the other hand, there’s plenty of solid research supporting the benefits of eating a balanced diet with five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
- Anti-Aging Strategy #3: Exercise regularly. Aerobic workouts promote longevity by strengthening the heart and lungs. But don’t skimp on resistance workouts (with free weights or weight machines). “Resistance training is the only type of exercise that slows declines in muscle mass, bone density, and strength that were once considered inevitable consequences of aging,” says Pete McCall, MS, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise.
- Anti-Aging Strategy #4: Drink moderately and don’t smoke. More than two alcoholic drinks per day can damage your liver over time and cause other potentially fatal health problems. Smoking drastically increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease. But smokers who quit — no matter what their age — can add years to their life. According to the American Lung Association, smokers who quit before age 35 have a life expectancy similar to people who have never smoked. Even quitting after age 65 will add several years to your life.
- Anti-Aging Strategy #5: Manage stress. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure and heart attacks, as well as to decreased immunity. Don’t let stress interfere with your longevity. Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or listening to soothing music when you feel stress mounting.
- Anti-Aging Strategy #6: Get regular checkups and screenings. Seeing a doctor at least once a year and having the recommended screenings for your age can prevent minor health problems from developing into chronic or deadly diseases. Talk to your doctor about screening for colon cancer starting at age 50 (earlier if you have a family history of colon cancer) and for prostate cancer, the second most common cancer killer of men.
It’s never too late to starting taking steps to fight the effects of aging.
A healthy lifestyle — and your genes, what you inherited from your mom and dad play a major role in Anti-Aging, for more information on how you can mitigate your genetic predispositions go to www.mygenewize.com/lifestyles — is the critical factor in determining how your health will fare as the years go by. By taking care of yourself, you can look forward to a long and healthy life.