What if there were things you could do today to move your health from good to great and make sure that you can keep doing the things you love as you age? Read on! The actions you take now can improve and extend your healthy years.
Is it playing with your grandchildren well into your 70’s and 80’s? Or maybe it’s dominating the pickleball court?
Or will your health decline in your last decades to the point where you can’t walk up stairs, enjoy a stroll in the park, or do simple chores independently?
Fact is, we are living longer than even our close ancestors. Children born today can hope to live 20 years longer than their grandparents. But while life expectancy has increased, many of us can expect to spend decades in moderate or poor health1.
While we talk a lot about improving our lifespan, or the total number of years we live. We also need to focus on how many of those years we remain healthy without chronic or debilitating disease. This is known as our healthspan, or, the part of our life we remain in good health.
Investing in your health now, whether in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s, can have a profound impact on how active and vital you are as you age.
There are six key factors that influence longevity:
Here are some tangible actions you can take now to improve your health as you age:
The first step is to understand where you’re at. If you were to receive a report card for your current health, what would it say? Understanding your blood pressure and cholesterol levels is an important start. There are also deeper dives you can take into your health, with organizations like Healthspan Labs. These include screening your blood and DNA for risk factors of cancer and cardiovascular disease, VO2 max to test your aerobic capacity and metabolic health, and Dexa body composition scans (Reminder: Sprout members get one free scan each year!).
Make physical activity part of your daily routine. Aim for a combination of cardiovascular exercises (such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling) and strength training exercises (using resistance bands, free weights, or bodyweight exercises). Strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week (note: this doesn’t mean pushing as hard as you can! It’s a jog or power walk where you can still hold a conversation), along with two or more strength training sessions.
Eat like the healthiest people in the world. People in the Blue Zones, or places in the world where people live the longest, have lots in common when it comes to their diets. Emphasize garden vegetables, especially leafy greens such as spinach or kale. Cut back on meat. Try to get a daily dose of beans - they are hearty, satisfying, and a cornerstone of longevity diets. Snack on nuts. Limit your sugars, saturated fats, and processed foods. Drink mostly water (though it’s worth noting that people in blue zones tend to drink one or two glasses of red wine per day - often with friends).
Establish a consistent sleep schedule and aim for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Create a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it's time to wind down. Keep your bedroom environment dark, cool, and quiet. Minimize exposure to electronic devices before bed. And, as Andrew Huberman often recommends, view morning sunlight! It increases early day cortisol release and helps regulate your circadian clock to prepare your body for sleep that night.
Find stress management techniques that work for you. This may include practices like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies and activities you enjoy. Regular exercise, spending time with friends and family, and striving for a healthy work-life balance can also help manage and reduce stress.
Maintain and nurture your social connections. Research shows that loneliness and isolation can be as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day2. Find group activities, clubs, or volunteer work that aligns with your values and interests. Make sure you are carving out time to stay connected with friends and loved ones. Social connections and a sense of belonging provide important emotional support and contribute to overall wellbeing.
When it comes to vitamins and supplements, individual needs vary based on factors such as overall health, diet, and lifestyle. A few commonly recommended vitamins and supplements for people in their 40’s and 50’s may include Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin D, or magnesium. However, we recommend consulting with your healthcare provider to get personalized recommendations.
Remember, everyone is unique, so it’s important to tailor these strategies to your specific circumstances and to get advice from your healthcare professional (or Sprout team member) when you have questions. But wherever you are in your health journey, taking proactive steps to understand and optimize your health today can set the foundation for a full and active life as you age.