Long Will You Live?
Author: Tracie Johanson
you've seen the latest health news.....scientists are concerned
that our overweight and obese population will not live as long
as previous generations. USA Today recently reported that "Obesity
could shorten the average lifespan of an entire generation - today's
children - by two to five years, according to a controversial
new life-expectancy analysis" (Source: Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY).
ancient Rome, a newborn child could expect to live to 22. In the
1900's, in the US, 49 was the average life expectancy. In 1991,
the average life expectancy was 75 years. Between 1950-1980, the
population of those over 65 doubled, and by the year 2025, the
group of people aged 60 and over will have grown from 376 million
in 1980 to 1.12 billion. (Source: Donna M. De Cunzo, R.D., L.D.)
expectancy for Americans today is 77.6 years, an all-time high.
obesity and all the related physical problems that come with obesity
are causing some serious issues for us and our health.
more than ever, it's critical that we take the time to exercise
and educate ourselves on healthy eating. Obesity is the problem,
and we can be part of the solution!
at Tuft's University have studied aging. They have come up with
the following five factors, which they call biomarkers, that can
help people live longer and improve the quality of their life.
Diet: As the body ages, it requires fewer calories. Men and women
55 and older need 150 to 200 fewer calories per day than those
younger than age 55. This decrease may be due to a natural decline
in metabolic rate and/or decreased physical activity. However,
the need for essential nutrients does not changed. Thus, there
is not much room for high calorie, low nutrient foods. According
to the USDA's Human Consumption Survey, those over 55 were found
to consume less than 70% of the RDA for B6, B12, calcium, magnesium
and vitamin A. Even for those who require special diets to treat
diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure, a diet low in
animal products and high in fiber (from whole grains, fruits and
vegetables) is beneficial.
Lean Body Mass: Lean body mass, or muscle mass, generally decreases
at a rate of 2% per decade after age 40. When LBM decreases, disuse
syndrome occurs, resulting in obesity, fragility, depression and
decreased cardiovascular function. This is why it's critical to
engage in regular resistance exercise throughout life!
Body Fat Percentage: Keeping body fat down and lean body mass
up is important in preventing injury and disease.
Aerobic Capacity: Exercise aerobically at least 3 times a week,
keeping the heart rate at about 70% of maximum for 30 minutes
Strength: Weight bearing exercise is especially important in reducing
the risk of osteoporosis. Dr. Bill Evans studied a group of people
at age 90 who needed assistance with daily tasks and had a history
of falling. Dr. Evans had the group lift 80% of their one repetition
maximum weight for an eight week period. After eight weeks, the
group increased muscle strength by 60% and increased LBM by 10%.
(Source: Dr. Bill Evans and Dr. Irv Rosenberg of the U.S. Department
of Agriculture's Human Nutrition Research Center at Tuft's University.)
take-home message is that obesity causes a lot of health problems.
As a nation, our weight issue has gotten so out of hand that it
may impact overall life expectancy. However, we can be part of
the solution by engaging in regular exercise (both aerobic and
resistance exercise) and by watching what we eat. This is especially
true as we get older.
while nobody really knows how long we'll live, we can certainly
tip the odds in our favor!
the author: Tracie Johanson is the founder of Pick Up The Pace,
a 30-minute exercise studio for women, focusing on fitness, health
and nutrition for maximum weight loss.