A recent study published in Demography found that Americans today are aging more slowly than they did in the past. The researchers looked at various factors that reflect aging including inflammation, organ function, blood pressure and breath capacity to compare participants' biological versus chronological age. The results suggest that increases in life expectancy are due to new treatments for serious diseases and improvements in health behaviors. Another experiment published in the journal Neurology found that women with better cardiovascular fitness in middle age are less likely to develop dementia. Advances both in medical interventions and lifestyle choices have a direct impact on the aging process. What are you doing to slow down your aging and to improve your quality of life? While we don't have control over our heredity, we do have control over our diet, activity level, and social connections.
Other researchers focused on a country off the coast of Italy (Sardinia) that has the highest longevity of any other country and looked at the various factors tied to their long life spans. Although we might assume their longevity is due mostly to their diet, physical activity, habits, etc., those factors were not at the top of the list. The two most significant factors for longevity in Sardinia are social integration and close relationships. People live longer because they have a strong social network and a tight-knit community of people who look out for each other and care for one another. They share a cappuccino with each other, value time together, share stories, and support each other. We all need to take note of this and place greater emphasis on building connections and valuing our relationships. Whether they are personal or professional relationships, people need people. When we share our burdens and our accomplishments with one another, it makes life a little easier. Community breeds connection which leads to a healthier and longer life.
So what can you do to have a better quality of life? Maybe committing to regular physical activity, making good choices about diet/weight, and/or managing the life stress effectively. For some, joining a yoga class, belonging to a community group, or leaning into their faith can give them peace, comfort, and support. Others find that connections with a spouse, family, and/or friends creates an outlet for stress relief as long as we surround ourselves with positive and encouraging people rather than negative and needy ones. When we pursue a personal passion and impact others in a positive way, that can create a sense of fulfillment. Last week I blogged about journaling which can be a wonderful outlet to release stress and let go of negative feelings. So much of our aging has to do with our mental attitude and mindset. When we complain less and are grateful for what we have our mood and attitude improve. Also letting go of grudges and negative feelings from the past enables us to experience the joy of today. We can decide how we live life every single day. Wake up today and decide to create a positive day through your words and actions.