Aging and Longevity 

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

When we are young, we really want 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 usually track on an annual basis- we count our birthdays.  They are the measure of our current longevity.What determines how long we live. Is any of it under our control? 

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

But if we live in a culture which values the young more than it values elders, we get caught in in a search for looking younger, acting younger and we search for anti-aging techniques and products.

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?

So many ads promise a long life if we, "Do this.", "Eat that", "Take our supplement." But  we wonder what really matters for aging and longevity?

We know that the people of Japan are the longest lived people on earth. 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   between Spain and France  in the Pyrenees mountains.

Interesting. Japan is an Island nation. Andora is in the mountains. Very different places. And yet both have long lived populations

Aside: If you want to know the average life expectancy for women or for men in your country just click on this   International Aging Longevity chart. 

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

What determines your own aging and longevity live?

1. 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 t this theory, you can get a good sense of your own life span by looking how long your parents and grandparents lived. Why?  It is all in your genetic code.

Although there seems to be some truth to that, we all can think of examples where it does not apply. So it can not be 'just our genes'.

And as the study of genes and our 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 on Finding the Longevity Gene  )  

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

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 associated with longevity.  (Of course they just happen to see those supplements.)

4. But the one factor that seems to favor a long life seems to be your attitude?   Attitude?  Yes, attitude.

In study after study, among the 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 in the study.  And this is true also among those who are no sick....persons in good health.

Attitude is everything! You might have heard a professional coach say that to players.  You may have also heard it from a teacher.  But what is interesting is that it is also true when your goal is a long life.

To read more about Dispositional Optimisim, what it is andhow you can acquire it, go to Dispositional Optimisim and Longevity.

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

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