05.01.24 5 Steps to Evaluate Your Longevity Odds

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5 Steps to Evaluate Your Longevity Odds

The goal in life used to be measuring success by years. If you lived to be 100 years old, you were successful, regardless of whether you were sick for the last decade or not. That has changed. It is now more important to ensure those years are quality ones, and the new term is “healthspan”. The perfect execution of “healthspan” is to live a mobile and healthy life, until the day you die, at age 100. Victory! No illness or “downtime” in life.

So, how do you know if you’re on track for such a lofty goal?

There are a few key metrics that experts are now identifying as indicators of a long and healthy life.

  1. Cardiorespiratory state. In a simple term, this is your heart and lung system. It is measured by identifying what your VO2 Max is. VO2 Max measures how efficiently your body uses the oxygen in your system. There are devices out there today, such as PNOE, that can measure this in your own home. Still however, the most accurate and reliable measures come from old-school “face mask” equipment and a trusty treadmill or bike. The goal? You are shooting to have your VO2 Max somewhere in the upper 30s, if you are 45-60 years old.
  2. Strength. What’s key about having strength, is that it allows you to stay mobile. Without strength, you will have trouble getting out of a chair, or, worse yet, off a toilet. Not a good way to go, right? (no pun intended).
    • Home Test: One test for measuring this is to see how many times you can stand up and sit down on a regular chair, without using your hands, in 30 seconds. Anything over 20 is good.
  3. Balance. Balance is key for positive aging because without balance, we fall and that creates fractures, bone breakage and, ultimately, downtime. The problem with “downtime” or recovery is that our body continues to decline as we are unable to move around and use our circulatory and respiratory systems. The longer we are “out of commission” the more we lose and have to then build back.
    • Home Test: How do you test for balance? Give yourself the single leg test. Raise one knee straight in front of you and see how long you can hold your balance. If you can stand for 30 seconds, you are doing great!
  4. Flexibility. Similar to Balance, flexibility is key for continued “movement” or quality of life. Flexibility allow us to move more fluidly, which helps us to ‘catch ourselves’ if falling. Similar to balance, we want to avoid falls for all of the same reasons noted above, namely loss of bodily function over time.
    • Home Test: One way to test flexibility is to sit on the floor (I know…that, in and of itself can be a test!) and extend your legs straight out in front of you. If you can touch your toes, you are doing great!
  5. Social connectivity. This may seem strange to have on a list of longevity evals, however, social connectedness is critical to health. The converse is loneliness or “disconnectedness”. Our surgeon general has publicly stated that loneliness causes more damage to our bodies than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. WOW. A few of the impacts of loneliness include a 50% increase in dementia, a 29% increase in heart disease and a 32% increase in stroke. These, of course, have an impact on overall longevity.
    • Home Test: UCLA developed a Loneliness Test, which you can click and take here.

Evaluate yourself today and use your scores as a baseline. Take note of your areas of opportunity and re-evaluate yourself in 3 months. If your scores are the same, then identify an area to work on, and draft a plan to improve.

If after 6 months, you’re not seeing improvement, you may want to find an expert to help you make progress.

Life is to be lived, whether you are 40, 60 or 80. There are quality years left and we want you to be able to live them to your fullest!

Cheers!

Anissa

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