Do runners live longer? What are all of these workouts buying us? In the last century and a half, the average life expectancy has gone from 38 to 78 years old! And while most of this can be credited to medical breakthroughs like antibiotics and the early detection & treatment of diseases, the study of aging and life expectancy is a growing field with new discoveries occurring every year.
Do you want to know your statistical life expectancy? Try taking a health age test. It’s a rather simple questionnaire that statistically projects your life expectancy based on your habits. If you’ve ever applied for a life insurance policy, you’ll notice that they ask the same exact questions! And while it’s fun to play with calculators like this for entertainment, it’s also a bit unnerving to think about the validity of their predictions. I went through the calculator the first time and entered in my honest habits. Then I was curious…what if I got more sleep?...was less stressed-out?....ate better?....exercised more?...and before I knew it, I entered all of the “ideal” answers. The calculator changed my hypothetical life expectancy by an additional 10 years!! Wow….wouldn’t that be nice! Imagine getting a gift certificate in your next birthday card: “This entitles the bearer to 10 years of additional life”….what’s worth more than that?? (don’t say 11 years ;-).
The reality is that we each have the power to increase our chances of living a longer life. And while the calculators don’t present any guarantee of their predictions, their data is used as a basis for life insurance companies to invest billions of dollars….so it must be somewhat accurate. Want to improve your odds? What do you have to lose?? I’m sure the cynics will scoff at a healthy lifestyle as they preach their you-gotta-live-a-little theory, and all the fun that you’ll be missing out on. But take a closer look at the habits that impact your life expectancy the most: smoking, drinking, exercise, diet, stress, etc… I don’t enjoy, nor do I have time for, frequent hangovers; and if second-hand smoke is any indicator…first-hand smoke must be utterly miserable; and my daily run is one of the favorite parts of my day. So where’s all of that ”fun” that I’m missing???
Now it’s hard to say how many years of life we’ll be blessed with, but why not increase our odds where we can? Diet and exercise can add quality and quantity to your life. So go run an extra mile…not just for the extra birthday candles…but so that you’ll be able to smile & blow them out, too!
You can find Runners Live Longer and other motivational fitness information in the May 2007 article of The Bullhorn. You can sign up for this free monthly e-zine below.