Aging and Longevity 


Aging and Longevity are not the same.  You have been aging every moment since you were were born.  Aging is inevitable.  If you ever stop aging, you will be dead. 

When we were young, we really wanted to age. Seven year olds what to 'grow up' and be older.  Turning 18 or 21 is celebrated by most people because those ages open the doors to many of the privileges of the adult word.  

Longevity is different - it tracks how long we have been alive.  This is something we  track on an annual basis- we count our birthdays.  Birthdays are the measure of our current longevity. But what determines how long we live?. Is any of it under our control? 

As we grow older one of two things happen. If we live in a culture where elders are respected, where they are  granted special privileges we really look forward to growing past adulthood and  becoming an 'elder'. (Click read about Elderhood)

But if we live in a culture which values the young more than it values the old, we get caught in in a search for 'anti-aging' - looking younger, acting younger. We spend time and money on anti-aging techniques and products.

Now most of us want to live long lives (longevity).  We want to see our  children grow up and our grand children too..... and maybe even our great grand children. Wouldn't that be nice?   

Many of us wonder if there  is some special key to living a long life?  Is our lifespan determined by the genes we were born with?  Or does our lifestyle affect the length of our lives?

Many ads promise a long life if we, "Do this.", "Eat that", "Take this supplement." But you probably wonder is these things count. What really matters for aging and longevity?


You probably know that  Japan has the longest lived people. Japanese men have a life expectancy of 83 years and Japanese women 90 years.  The country with the next longest lived population is Andora, a small country in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France .

Japan is an Island nation. Andora is in the mountains. Very different places. And yet both have long lived populations ( If you want to know the average life expectancy for women or for men in your country just click:   International Aging Longevity chart. 

National life expectancy is one thing. But what of your personal life expectancy?


What determines your own aging and longevity?

Some researchers have said our life span comes with our genes. If you come from long lived genetic stock, you are likely to have a long life. If not, you are likely to die at a younger age.  According this theory, you can get a good sense of your own life span by looking how long your parents and grandparents lived. It is all in your genetic code.

Although there seems to be some truth in this theory, we all can think of examples where it did not apply. A young person born into a long lived family dies at an early age.  Or another person outlives every one in the family. Clearly it is not be 'just genes' that determines longevity.

Still as the study of personal genetic makeup has become more common, there are many scientists who search for what has been named the longevity gene.  (If you want to read about those studies, click: Finding the Longevity Gene  )  

Although most scientists recognize that genes play some part in how long you will live,  they now say that genetics is only about 20% of the cause of your individual life span.  Other things are more important - things that are under our personal control.                         

  1. Diet, exercise.  Some scientists claim that your diet and how much exercise you get are more important than your genes.
  2. Stress. Other scientists claim that  the level of stress you experience through life is they key to understanding how long you will live. (You've heard it: STRESS KILLS).
  3. Supplement companies point to studies of one or another supplement that has been associated with longevity.  (Of course they just happen to sell those supplements.)
  4. Attitude.  Yes, attitude seems to be the one factor that favors a long life for many people.   Attitude?  Yes, attitude. In study after study, among he sick or the well, the one thing that seems to predict a long life is something called Dispositional Optimism.  Yes, you read that right. A dispositionally positive attitude seems to be the most common factor found  among those who live the longest.                                                       And this is true even when comparing persons with serious, life threatening illnesses. In study after study of persons with severe illness, those with what researchers call an 'optimistic outlook' outlast others .  And this also holds true among those who are not sick ....persons in good health.
  5. So, attitude is everything! You might have heard a sports coach say that to players.  But what is interesting is that it has also been shown true when your goal is a long life.

To read more about Dispositional Optimisim, what it is and how you can acquire it, click: Dispositional Optimisim and Longevity.

End of section: Aging and longevity.   You will additional articles on this topic at: Science of longevity


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