Thursday, September 6, 2012

Health Care and Longevity in 2012

Have you noticed that people appear to be living longer these days, and that it seems like there are more senior citizens now than ever before? What now may be taken for granted that you may live into your 80's or 90's was not the case even 50 years ago. In the 19th century and early 20th century, the mortality rates were much higher with the average age of an adult before death was a little more than half what it is today.

According to the US Census Bureau, as public sanitation, personal hygiene, and scientific and medical technology improved, so did life expectancy. The average rate at birth increased by about 30 years over the course of the 20th century, from about 47 years in 1900 to about 77 years in 2000, based on the report issued by the Bureau in 2001.

In the United states today, according to US News and World Report, average life expectancy is 78.49 years, well above the world's norm. Many experts attribute this to ongoing medical developments, which have dealt with conditions that used to mow us down early. Meanwhile, nations without advanced medical care report a much shorter life expectancy, reported as part of their data collection for the World Factbook by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). However, despite the fact that the average American lives into his or her late 70s, the United States ranks 50th on the CIA's life expectancy list. Much more detail about the longevity of people around the world can be found at this site: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/living-well-usn/articles/2012/03/09/top-10-hotspots-for-human-longevity .

Interestingly enough, longevity even differs in the US based on the state where you live. According to National Public Radio (NPR) online, residents in Hawaii have the average longest life expectancy at 80 years, while those people living in the District of Columbia live an average of 72 years. A US map on this site allows you to see stats by state: http://www.npr.org/news/specials/longevity/ .

According to Everyday Health.com, you often hear advice about things you can do to improve your health and increase your longevity. For instance, you’re told to avoid sugary snacks, exercise more, lose weight and control stress. For many individuals, this involves making changes to a normal routine. But how many of the following things are you already doing to increase your longevity?

Engaging in a hobby: Having a hobby that engages you physically as well as mentally is particularly beneficial. Hobbies needn’t be expensive either. Gardening, bird watching and photography are examples of hobbies that will bring you outside and get you moving. Hobbies reduce stress and provide a sense of accomplishment.

Going on vacation: Vacations aren’t optional, they’re essential to optimal health. According to the Framingham Heart Study women who took vacations every six years or less were eight times more likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack than those who vacationed twice a year. Another study of men showed that those who didn’t take at least one vacation were 21 percent more likely to die and 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack. While people in Great Britain average 25 vacation days per year and the French 37 days, the average American worker only takes 14 days of vacation.

Sleeping in on the weekends: During sleep the neurons in the brain become less active and undergo repair. Without repair these nerve cells are unable to function properly with the result that people find that they have trouble with memory and concentration. Many other tissues of the body also undergo repair during sleep, and sleep is also important for proper hormone balance. The National Sleep Foundation’s 2008 Sleep in America Poll found that Americans slept an average of six hours and 40 minutes a night, while most people need an average of 7 ½ hours. Sleeping an extra hour or two on the weekends can help make up some of this deficit.

Connecting with other people: In his National Geographic book “The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest”, Dan Buettner found that one characteristic of regions of the world with greatest longevity are the strong interconnections between family and friends. Studies have found that social isolation has health risks on a par with cigarette smoking!

Flossing your teeth: According to studies done at Emory University by the Centers for Disease Control, common gum problems such as gingivitis and periodontitis lead to a 23 to 46 percent higher rate of death. Gum tissues are common sites for inflammation, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Flossing your teeth every night removes the bacteria that cause the inflammation and it has been estimated that daily flossing can add as much a 6.4 years to your life.

You are probably are doing several of these things already. With a few simple changes to your routine you can be doing all of them and increase your health and longevity. This information, provided by Dr. Terry Grossman who is an anti-aging and longevity practitioner, can be found at his site: www.grossmanwellness.com , and follow up on more health issues can be found at www.everydayhealth.com .

Living longer sure beats the alternative. Practice those techniques in your everyday life to stretch the years for maximum living. Although you never know the total number of days you may have, making the most of each one is what healthy living is all about. Your physical, mental, social, spiritual, and financial health is all tied together. When one part of you is out of whack, the rest of you tends to suffer. Focus attention on those things that matter, and your longevity may be increased.

Until next time.

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