Try to imagine yourself living a long, extremely long life, perhaps up to 110 or 115 years. What comes to your mind immediately?
Most people quickly come to the conclusion that such a long life is only beautiful if you are well to the end, able to continue doing the things we like most and enjoy affection and relationships until the end. last.
A long life, if of poor quality, becomes a kind of torture. Yet according to the statistics, things are going exactly in this direction: the average life span of people continues to lengthen but the quality is not so high.
Many, too many elderly people live long but are sick, frail and suffering for years if not decades .
Living long but with poor quality is not something to be particularly proud of as a society because it is a situation that amplifies not only individual suffering but also socio-economic costs.
Life must be lived on its own terms and even if sometimes the disease must be accepted, every effort should always be made to avoid it .
And precisely on this point our way of life turns out to be profoundly contradictory: on the one hand we want a long and beautiful life, on the other we are not able to take care of the fundamental factor to make it so, health.
We have been talking about prevention for decades, but the lifestyle typical of the Western world is the cause primary of the diseases that affect us as we get older .
Hypertension, overweight, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases are the diseases that affect us most often and that have the strongest impact on the quality of our existence.
There are some differences between men and women both in terms of longevity and the most frequent type of disease, but basically the impact of lifestyle is similar in both sexes.
The quality of aging depends mainly on the quality of the choices that the person has made in the course of life .
It is clear that medicine offers increasingly sophisticated treatments that keep the sick alive and also that reduce their suffering, but nevertheless in general they are unable to restore the quality of life that person want.
What does all of this suggest?
We simply have to protect our health firsthand and not expect a cure to give us back the joy, energy and enthusiasm that disease steals from us.
Investing too much in care is a mistake .
They save our lives, maybe even reduce our suffering but it’s not their job to give us back joy, enthusiasm and a beautiful life as we want it. That depends on us.
The healthy habits of those who live long and well
The quality of life and duration are determined by a constant and personal interaction between:
- Genetic factors : they are the component on which we can have little influence because it depends on the quality of the genes we receive from our parents. Their basic genetics and even their lifestyle affect our risk profile but not decisively except in cases of real genetic diseases.
- Environmental factors : the quality of the air, the food we eat, the stress we suffer are all factors that have an important impact on our health. Sometimes we can intervene for example by deciding to go and live in a less polluted and stressful place.
- Behavioral factors: these are the factors that are really under our complete and direct control because they represent our daily choices. Although it is not easy to change your way of life, it is certainly the variable that is most at hand.
The behavioral factors in point three, therefore, are those on which we can intervene directly and for this reason it is worthwhile to better understand what makes people live long and above all well .
- Exercise : People who live long and well are active, do sports regularly and have essentially always done so throughout their lives. It is important to understand that walking is not enough. You need an adequate dose of aerobic activity but also weights to maintain strength and muscle mass.
- Do not smoke and do not overdo alcohol : smoking and alcohol are among the substances that have caused the most damage to our species. The damage is not limited to some organs as one might think (lungs for smoking and liver for alcohol) but is widespread and systemic. Therefore these habits significantly increase the risk of numerous diseases.
- Do not use drugs : drugs cause damage to many organs in particular the brain and also stimulate behaviors that lead to additional risks, such as infectious ones in the case of syringes or accidents in the case of driving under the effect of drugs.
- Do not insist on compulsive behaviors: in general, a good life is made up of harmony and delicacy and not of uncontrolled behavior in an attempt to obtain momentary well-being. The most common compulsive behavior involves the search for food.
- Having a good daily routine: long-lived people have a daily routine that they love, made up of good sleep, low stress and slow rhythms. They often keep an activity diary and are used to making changes that improve mood.
- Eat right: nutrition plays a vital role in health and disease. You need to start with eating less, increase vegetables and low-calorie foods, avoid unhealthy fats, sugars and refined grains, and choose wholesome foods.
- Having a good social life : Research shows that relationships are important for health. The quality of our relationships determines our level of happiness and satisfaction in particular.
- Do not exceed with sun exposure : exposure to the sun is essential for the production of vitamin D but if it is excessive it leads to photoaging and an increased risk of dermatological diseases.
- Meditation : meditation and prayer for those who believe are habits that strengthen the sense of serenity and peace and make us live with less stress and tension.
- Don’t live in the past : the past serves as a lesson but we must free ourselves from the weights it tries to attack us. In particular we must become able to forgive others and especially ourselves and to let go.
Researchers who have thoroughly studied the quality of life of long-lived people confirm that our behaviors, daily choices and habits are the truly fundamental factors.
The main trap is to believe that it is impossible to change. Science says otherwise.
Why not give it a try?