HEALTH & WELLNESS
Healthspan: what it is & why it's as important as lifespan
When people delve into the world of health and wellness it can be difficult to understand the nuanced differences between certain terminology as they can sound incredibly similar and can oftentimes be utilized interchangeably by mistake.
Healthspan and lifespan are two ideas that aim to describe longevity within your life. While they both describe longevity, the actual factors of life they focus on vary significantly. Understanding these differences can allow you to ensure that you are best equipped to support a healthy and happy life and know what you are working towards.
Below is a closer look at the concept of healthspan and why it is just as important, if not more important than lifespan. By taking charge of your health, you can effectively improve your quality of life as you age.
Healthspan vs. lifespan
A common misconception is that by increasing your lifespan, you can achieve a better life. While the amount of time that you are on the planet is important, a more important factor to consider is the amount of time that you have with your health.
Anyone can live a long life, but living a long life with your health is more important as it allows you to enjoy the time you have to a greater extent. In the U.S., the average life expectancy falls in the high 70’s. While this number is a significant data point for determining the status of a country, this doesn’t provide any information on when health declines. This idea represents the main differentiating factor between lifespan and healthspan.
A great way to differentiate the two concepts is to think of healthspan as a more practical view of your lifespan. Lifespan only takes the factor of time into consideration while healthspan adds the factor of health to the equation.
How to promote healthy aging
A frequent aim of many health-promoting actions is to allow you to live a healthier life. While these promote a healthy life, many people misconstrued this as a means of increasing your lifespan. In reality, the human lifespan is something that is generally constant and there really isn’t a means of extending your biologically predetermined lifespan. While it can’t necessarily be extended, it can be significantly shortened by making poor health choices.
Health-promoting actions like working out, eating well, and maintaining good mental health all work by supporting your entire body to live to its longest potential. So rather than extending your life, they simply allow your body to physically age at the slowest possible rate.
Health-promoting actions are a great way to improve your healthspan. Where lifespan cannot be extended, healthspan can be significantly improved upon by making healthy lifestyle modifications and promoting your health.
Below is a look at three different ways you can promote healthy aging and a longer healthspan.
Physical health is one of the most important aspects of your health and your ability to live healthily as you get older. As you age your body can slowly begin to function less and less optimally. While physical health can diminish with age, this trend isn’t something that is entirely set in stone.
When you live an active lifestyle earlier in life, it can pay dividends when you begin to age. Young adulthood for instance is a great time for healthy living because hormone levels are often optimal for muscle and bone development. As you age it can take more time and effort to achieve similar results.
While the younger you start getting active, the better, staying active throughout your life can promote better bone density, stronger muscles, and healthier joints. By promoting better health in these categories, you can significantly lengthen the amount of time that you are healthy, able, and mobile.
What you eat on any given day may not seem like a huge deal on the surface, but when you really think about it, the food you eat in a day is what allows your body to function and either live or thrive.
Ensuring that the food you are eating is high quality and nutritious is important to giving your body the best materials it needs to optimally function. Evaluating your nutrition and ensuring you get exactly what your body needs through your food or supplements can significantly improve your current and future health.
As you age certain processes within the body can become less efficient and capable. An example of this would be the cellular energy system which involves the organelle known as the mitochondria.
The mitochondria is the cellular structure that is responsible for the process of cellular respiration which takes glucose and converts it into ATP for the cell to utilize as a source of energy. During this process the mitochondria produce reactive oxygen species (ROS). To protect the structure of the organelle, there is an antioxidant molecule known as CoQ10 that helps to protect the mitochondrial membrane from oxidative stress. As you age, CoQ10 levels could decline which could result in the mitochondria suffering from decreased efficiency.
CoQ10 supplements exist, but many of them are not efficiently taken up by the body. MitoQ is different and provides a targeted dose of CoQ10 straight to the mitochondrial membrane. With a specially formulated form of CoQ10, MitoQ is a highly bioavailable supplement that can help support your body at a cellular level to give you the best shot at supporting your health for the years to come.
It is easy to get wrapped up into diet and exercise, but it is important that you don’t skimp out on your mental wellbeing. While aging can bring its fair share of physical changes, people also undergo immense amounts of mental change. Having a sound mind, good social circles, and practicing mindfulness can allow you to age better from a mental wellbeing perspective.
When looking at mental wellbeing as it relates to healthspan, it is important to keep your mind sharp to have the best quality of life possible. There are a number of different mental health issues that can arise later in life and keeping your mind challenged and social circles large is a great place to start.
Keeping your mind challenged and occupied is an important aspect of maintaining a good mental state. Whether that be through your job, hobby, or puzzles keeping yourself on your toes is a great way of maintaining your sharp wits.
Mindfulness is a practice of taking the time to ground yourself into the present moment. Many people suffer from anxiety and other mental turmoils and mindfulness and meditation offers a way to slow down and acknowledge what really matters. By taking those moments to mentally decompress, you could avoid prolonged feelings of stress which could allow you to live a healthy life for longer.
An aspect of aging that can have significant implications on mental wellbeing is loneliness. It can be easy to fall into a situation later in life where you may feel lonely which not only feels bad, but could have impacts on your health. Cultivating meaningful and long lasting relationships is a great way to avoid loneliness and live a fuller life. Both of these can significantly help with improving your overall healthspan.
In summary, healthspan is a term utilized to describe the amount of time that you are capable and free of major health concerns. Healthspan is more important than lifespan because healthspan essentially describes your usable lifespan.
Unlike your biologically predetermined lifespan, healthspan can be lengthened by taking the time to focus on yourself and improving areas of your health. Through diet, exercise, and keeping a healthy mind you could give yourself many more years of mobility and the ability to enjoy life to its fullest extent.
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