Have you ever wondered why some people live to a ripe old age while others succumb to illness or chronic diseases much earlier? Battling with my health, I got to thinking a lot about this!
If we want to take control of our health, we need to fully understand the difference between our health span and life span. I didn’t take this seriously until chronic illness wiped me out! Definitely learning the hard way… but when we’re in our 20s & 30’s, it’s hard to imagine anything happening to us, right?
But we can’t live just for now… we need to live to maximize healthy years and decades to come…
Are you really in good health?
Did you know that ‘Healthspan’ – our ability to lead an active and healthy life – is not necessarily the same as our lifespan? Most of us tend to focus on living until we’re 100, but being healthy throughout those years is just as important. (if not more!)
Who wants to be the sickly person in the nursing home, living their last 30 years miserable? Not me.
I’ve done a lot of research on this topic, and let me tell you why understanding and prioritizing your health span & longevity can lead to a long, fulfilling life (all the way to the end!)
What is the difference between health span and life span, and why it’s important to understand the difference
Ok, let’s back up –
Ah, yes – the eternal quest for the fabled fountain of youth we are all chasing – a journey that has us all scratching our heads, wondering how to live not only longer, but better.
Enter the concepts of health span and life span, two seemingly related terms that are actually quite distinct.
Picture life span as the total runtime of your favorite movie, from the opening credits to the final scene, while health span represents the portion filled with riveting plot twists and unforgettable moments.
But as every movie buff knows, quality trumps quantity. In the realm of human existence, living healthily and vibrantly for 80 years is vastly preferable to spending 100 years accumulating ails and aches.
For example, Sinclair’s research suggests that it may be possible to actually reverse the effects of aging to improve our health span!
I highly recommend his book, Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To! The research he uncovers is sooooo interesting! (I went out and bought NAD supplements immediately after….and you will too!)
3 Easy Ways to Maximize Your Health Span
Maximizing your health span is paramount in today’s world, and in good news, there are three simple ways to get started
It may seem mundane, but making sure you get enough sleep, exercising regularly, and paying attention to proper nutrition are the best way for anyone to ensure a long life in good health.
Cutting out those late nights in favor of more hours in bed, engaging in physical activities that work all the major muscle groups as well as getting in your daily dose of cardio, and finally supplementing with healthy, nutrient-rich foods will make a noticeable impact in the longevity of activity and vitality.
You don’t have to become an ironman athlete or completely give up desserts to stay in good shape – a balanced approach is key!
1. How To Improve Your Diet and Exercise Habits to Increase Health Span
We all know that age is just a number, but who wouldn’t want to dial it back a tad and enjoy a healthy, vibrant life for longer? Yes please!
Let’s start with upgrading our grub game by adding animal-based proteins paired with a colorful array of fruits and veggies to each meal. If you’ve been eating the Standard American Diet, your body will thank you for that nutrient boost, and you’ll FEEL the difference!
Speaking of boosts, try incorporating an energizing walk, run, or dance-off around with the kiddos to your daily routine. Exercising (even a little!) not only keeps your body fit and svelte but can also dial up the fun and melt stress away.
START TODAY: Take the first step towards a longer, happier health span with some avocado toast and bacon for breakfast, and then walk the dog or try an at-home primal workout routine.
Pro Tip: Maybe grab that red wine? Resveratrol, a compound found in grapes and red wine, has been linked to longevity. Try taking a resveratrol supplement if you’re avoiding alcohol altogether 🙂
2. How Stress Management Plays a Role in Increasing Health Span
Whoever said laughter is the best medicine clearly understood the concept of stress management and its role in increasing our health span.
And stress, like that annoying alarm clock that refuses to let you snooze, is an unwelcome guest in our lives, wreaking havoc on our physical and emotional well-being.
But fear not, my fellow type A friends – by learning the art of stress management, we can combat the toll it takes on our health. So instead of being chased by a wild pack of diseases in our later years from chronic stress, we can start making changes NOW.
START TODAY: The benefits of breathing properly can increase mood and reduce psychological and physiological stress almost immediately. Consider this breathing technique from Dr. Huberman TODAY!
3. The Benefits of Social Connectedness and Why It Matters for Your Health Span
Ah, the beauty of social connectedness IRL (in real life!) Visiting face-to-face can truly be the secret sauce that makes life more vibrant and fulfilling…. Believe it or not, hanging with your friends & family can work wonders for your health!
Extensive research has shown that having a strong social network can help reduce the risk of heart disease, boost the immune system, and even contribute to a longer life.
Just think about it, surrounding yourself with a group of wonderful, like-minded individuals not only can inspire contagious laughter (at least my friends crack me up!) but also provides a support system during life’s little hiccups and hard times. And we can all use a shoulder to lean on once in a while.
Need I mention the power of the all-healing group hug? With a loving embrace, we can rally in times of need and lift each other up when times get tough.
According to SC Health, Researchers believe that hugging and other touches can increase oxytocin and affect our endogenous opioid system.
Simply by hugging, our brains can produce soothing chemicals that help us feel safer and less threatened. Therefore, when something stressful does come up, our fight-or-flight is lessened.
When life gets busy, sometimes the first thing cut is to spend time with friends… but I would think twice about that 😉
Go ahead, nourish your social connections, and hug a loved one today – your mind, body, and health span will thank you!
The importance of preventative care for your health span
Taking charge of your health might sound like a detective’s mission, but in reality, it’s the best gift you can give yourself.
Preventive care is uber important to prevent the onset of diseases or other chronic conditions.
However, we live in a society that only seems to focus on ‘sick care’ – meaning we only go to the doctor or receive help from physicians when we’re already battling a disease. (Hence, insurance doesn’t often cover preventative treatments, only physically necessary drugs & operations!)
In addition to eating well, exercising, and focusing on connections, make it a priority to get your regular check-ups and maintenance appointments – such as a year dermatology scan or 6-month dental check up.
While this may seem like obvious staples to a healthy lifestyle, you would be surprised how ignoring preventative care can cause long-term harm – for example, turning on the gene expression of an autoimmune disease that you’ll now have the rest of your life. (Speaking from personal experience!)
So go ahead, embrace the power of preventative care – your body will thank you in the long run!
Knowing when to seek medical attention when needed – how to spot the early warning signs
Staying in good health is no easy task – it requires constant effort and awareness. It’s important to pay attention to the early warning signs our body might give in order to know when medical attention is necessary in order to maximize our health span.
- Feeling more exhausted than usual?
- Are headaches or migraines creeping up?
- Does your body ache – even if you haven’t worked out?
- Are you waking up in the middle of the night or having trouble sleeping?
Sometimes our body is trying to tell us something, but we refuse to listen! Remember, listen to your body whisper so you don’t have to hear it scream….
Tips for incorporating technology into a health routine
It’s no secret that the world has gone digital, so why not hop on the bandwagon and give your health routine a tech-savvy upgrade?
Technology has become an increasingly important tool in improving our overall health span with instant bio-feedback. Wearables, such as fitness trackers and smartwatches, can track daily activity levels, heart rate, blood oxygen, body temperature, and sleep patterns (to name a few!)
Oura Ring – The most dependable sleep and body temperature device on the market. If you’re trying to track your hormones like me, using an Oura ring is your best bet for its reliable body temperature outputs.
Also mobile apps can also be used to track food intake, monitor symptoms, and provide reminders for medication or appointments.
Carb Manager – I have the paid version to track my macros to manage migraines!
Run with Hal – The best free running plan app on the market (in my opinion!)
TrainingPeaks – The best overall fitness-tracking app with metrics such as ‘fatigue’ and ‘fitness’ – great for you data geeks! Note: you will need the paid version to unlock most features.
Apple Health – Tracks all health metrics + you can invite family members or your doctor to your profile. My personal favorite is Apple Health’s connectivity to labs – I auto-magically can see and keep all my labs in one place. (Without having to sign in to a million different portals!)
Migraine Buddy – I use this app every.single.day! While I don’t track my migraines here the way I used to, I do use barometric pressure graphs to manage my sodium and potassium intake on a daily basis!
Strides – this is the most reasonable and robust habit and goal-tracking app I’ve found (And I’ve tried TONS!)
I check and use these apps ALMOST every day. What are your go – health apps and devices?
Quick note: Telehealth, or virtual healthcare appointments, can also be a convenient way to receive medical advice and care from the comfort of our own homes. This was especially important to me when I was too sick to even go to the doctor – it has been a game-changer! One thing we can thank the pandemic for, I guess 😉
Whether you’re a tech whiz or a novice, embracing the digital domain has never been more fun, accessible, and beneficial to your health journey.
It’s clear that we all want to stay in good health. Understanding the concept of Healthspan vs. Lifespan is key to understanding how to prolong good health and in turn, “lengthen” the number of years lived with quality health.
Taking preventive measures like exercising, socializing, and reducing stressors are great ways to increase longevity and enjoy life more fully.
To really maximize our results, though, it’s important that we understand that being healthy today means taking care of ourselves today and in the long run.
It doesn’t have to be hard; just put one foot forward at a time and take advantage of all the tech gadgets to further your progress.
Remember, your future self will thank you!