Longevity is 75% Lifestyle
WANT TO LIVE LONGER? HERE’S WHAT EXPERTS SAY YOU NEED TO DO
Genetics matter, but lifestyle is a larger influence on longevity. These healthy habits—including some out-of-the-box ideas (e.g., steam showers)—may just help you add more quality years to your life.
Everybody wants more life, more years to spend with loved ones. But, unfortunately, for most of the past decade, the mortality rate for Americans has been trending in the wrong direction.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), average life expectancy decreased for U.S. residents steadily until 2018, when the average lifespan increased 0.1% in 2018. Before then, such public health problems like opioid overdoses had lowered mortality rates. Other factors affecting average U.S. life expectancy include health care access, smoking, chronic disease, and fatalities from car accidents.
Heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the U.S., followed by cancer. Unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke round out the top five in descending order of fatality rates. In general, women have slightly longer lifespans than men on average, and deaths by specific age groups have stayed generally consistent over the years.
These, of course, are very broad statistics that don’t really tell you a lot about your own life expectancy. It’s not a subject that’s much fun to think about, much less to research. But it’s safe to assume that we all want to live as long as possible, and do so with independence and joy. It’s not just about the age you land on in the end, it’s about how those final years play out.
Heredity Is Not Destiny
It’s this intense desire to stay youthful as we age that’s driving the thriving anti-aging market. Estimates are that the anti-aging market will be valued at $271 billion by 2024. Much of this growth is attributed to the Baby Boomer generation that is poised to enter their golden years in unprecedented numbers. According to the New York Times, by 2030, 72 million Americans from the Baby Boomer generation will be age 65 or older.
So what’s your longevity and anti-aging plan? Because you need one.
While some things are beyond our control, people underestimate how much their lifestyle choices contribute to their longevity. They mistakenly believe that genetics are the major determinant of mortality. The truth is, they’re not. Heredity is not destiny.
The National Institutes of Health cite scientific research that indicates that lifestyle factors are a far more important factor in increasing longevity. One study says: “It is estimated that about 25% of the variation in human lifespan is determined by genetics, but which genes, and how they contribute to longevity, are not well understood.”
That means that your longevity is dependent on lifestyle by 75%, genetics 25%. You have the power to control your destiny. It’s time you used it.
Ways You Can Help Increase Your Longevity
So what healthy habits work best for extending lifespan? Let’s see what the research says.
Take care of the basics. A study by the American Heart Association, “Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the U.S. Population,” found that adopting healthy habits was a significant factor in living longer. Researchers said, “Adopting a healthy lifestyle could substantially reduce premature mortality and prolong life expectancy in U.S. adults.”
Coming to a similar conclusion was Harvard Medical School, which maintains that the major areas that should get your attention are
1) Eating a healthy diet;
2) Regular exercise;
3) Maintaining a healthy weight;
4) Moderate alcohol intake; and
5) Not smoking or using tobacco products.
These are common sense suggestions that suggest that you avoid self-destructive behaviors. In a way, this mimics the famous dictum that doctors rely on when providing services to patients: primum non nocere, a Latin phrase meaning, “first, do no harm.” Don’t hurt your own health and longevity by smoking, drinking excessively, being sedentary, and eating a diet high in sugar, fat, and processed foods.
Reduce stress. Simply avoiding bad habits only gets you so far when your goal is healthy aging. You want to get more out of life, and that means addressing issues of mental health and stress management. With heart disease the leading cause of death—and stroke not far behind as the fifth leading cause of death—you need to manage stress, one of the main contributors to these killer diseases.
Anxiety and stress are at record levels these days. That’s bad news for longevity. Research has found that stress decreases life expectancy. One study from UC San Francisco found that chronic anxiety increased levels of “klotho,” a hormone that regulates aging and lifespan.
Stress is unavoidable, especially due to the day-to-day grind of work. A study by Harvard Business School and Stanford University found that stress in the workplace shortened life expectancy in Americans, sometimes by as much as 12-19%!
You need a stress management plan that helps you reduce anxiety and stress during your downtime. Meditation, aromatherapy, music therapy, and other methods listed here can help you develop a great relaxation routine.
But there’s one thing you should add to your anti-stress and longevity strategy that you may not have considered, but could make a huge difference in your overall wellness lifestyle.
What is it? It’s a simple, passive activity that can be summed up in one word: steam.
The Surprising Longevity SUPPORT: Steam therapy
Most people don’t associate steam showers with longevity, but steam therapy has been found to help increase the effectiveness of the longevity and anti-aging methods listed above. Research has found that:
Steam helps enhance the effectiveness of exercise. One of the most important parts of longevity is adopting a regular exercise routine because of the cell rejuvenating properties of physical activity. Steam may help you stick to your exercise plan. Intermittent heat application has been shown to help increase recovery from exercise and also help reduce soreness from intense exertion. Steam also helps your respiratory system by dislodging mucus and other blockages from your lungs and nasal passages. With regular steam showers, you’ll be able to better maintain your exercise routine.
Steam helps you get more restful sleep. Research has shown that human longevity is associated with regular sleep patterns. You need 7-9 hours of deep, restful sleep every night, and steam therapy has shown promise with increasing quality slumber, even in aging populations. Since sleep deprivation increases stress and aggravates chronic health problems, such as heart disease, hypertension, and obesity, taking a steam shower before bed is a great way to help enhance your odds at a longer life.
Steam helps you control your body weight. With obesity playing such a large role in life expectancy, it’s important to maintain a successful weight management strategy. Steams helps there, too. Regular intermittent heat treatments can help detox your body, removing toxins and endocrine disruptors that can slow down your body’s natural metabolism. If you do your part in maintaining a healthy diet, then steam will help finish the job of getting your weight under control, so you’ll be fit and trim for the long haul.
Steam helps reduce stress. This is the essential part of steam therapy’s ability to help extend life expectancy. Regular heat treatments have been associated with a reduction in cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone that creates havoc in the body when it’s released at higher than normal levels. Then there are the relaxing effects of being in an enclosed, peaceful environment, letting the hot mist penetrate every pore of your skin. You can even enhance the stress-reduction effects of a steam shower by including aromatherapy, music therapy, and chromatherapy in your steam session from simple add-ons to your home unit.
Yes, if you’re serious about anti-aging and increasing longevity, you really should have a steam shower installed in your home.
Making Steam Part of Your Regular Lifestyle
Let’s dispel the notion that steam showers are only for commercial spas, resorts, and health clubs. These public systems are usually large in order to accommodate groups. Residential units are more compact and can be sized to fit into almost any condo, townhouse, or house. If you have a bathroom, in most cases you have the space for a steam shower.
The ability to access steam therapy in your home makes it easy to fit it into your regular schedule. One of the benefits of steam is that it’s a quick and passive treatment. Your session should not last more than 15 minutes, and it delivers benefits any time of day or night. And you can do it solo or with a family member.
It will also help solve the classic modern paradox: we’re stressed because we’re so busy, but because we’re busy we can’t make time for stress management. It doesn’t matter how conscientious you are, it’s difficult to eat well, exercise, and rest enough to maintain optimum health.
According to research published in the Annals of Family Medicine, circumstances and resources figure into adopting healthy habits as much or more than motivation. Said the lead author of the study: "Your personal circumstances and your environment shape your practical opportunities, which then shape the choices that you make, which then shape the outcome—so there are stages involved."
This brings new power to the concept that longevity begins at home. How you shape your living environment will determine your health and longevity. To live a healthy lifestyle, you need to design a healthy home. And no wellness retreat is complete without a steam room.
To get an idea how to install a steam unit in your home, review these MrSteam case studies, then visit a dealer showroom to see how you can create a wellness retreat in your own residence that will help you live a longer, more fulfilling life.