Lifestyle

Liz Weston: How to maximize your ‘health span’ | Lifestyles


The researchers also highlighted ways to modify those risks, including quitting smoking, engaging in physical activity, eating a healthy diet and taking medications as prescribed.

The study relied on data from the Global Burden of Disease, a resource maintained by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that tracks the prevalence of diseases and risk factors worldwide, along with the relative harm they cause. The GBD shows average remaining life expectancy at age 65 in the U.S. rose from 17.6 years in 1990 to 19.6 years in 2019 – a two-year gain. Healthy life expectancy, on the other hand, rose less than one year, from 12.2 years to 13.1 years.

That echoes similar statistics from the World Health Organization, which found that U.S. life expectancy at age 60 rose nearly 8% between 2000 and 2019, but healthy life expectancy rose less than 5%.

RECOGNIZE OTHER BARRIERS TO HEALTHIER LIVING

The GBD has some limitations: It doesn’t track the impact of well-established prevention strategies such as immunizations and screenings, or account for risk factors such as stress, depression, lack of sleep, loneliness and lack of purpose, the Vitality researchers said .

It’s also important to acknowledge that there can be huge systemic barriers to healthier living. If you live in an area with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s harder to eat well. If you live in crowded housing in an unsafe neighborhood, getting enough exercise can be tough. If you must choose between buying medication and food, you’re unlikely to fill the prescription your doctor wrote for you — assuming you can afford to visit a doctor. The more money you have, the better access you have to the key health interventions that help people live a longer life in good health.



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