Do you have a 100 not out plan?

Living longer’¦.but not healthier

Life expectancy is increasingWhen Paul McCartney wrote the song, When I’m 64, he was only 16 years old. Even today 64 sounds very old to any teenager, but most middle-aged people would agree, ‘It’s not as old as it used to be.’

When we talk about longevity, it’s usually described in terms of life expectancy – the average length of life. But averages can be misleading. Life expectancy is increasing, but when we look back at history there are many examples of people who lived to ripe old ages, like Augustus Caesar who conquered 75 and Michelangelo who painted his way to an amazing 88.

Life expectancy in the Past

Over the centuries life expectancy has altered dramatically with powerful events of history, such as war and global disease. Napoleon’s march on Moscow temporarily reduced life expectancy to 23 in French males. In 1970 Vietnam had a life expectancy of 48 and now it is 75. AIDS has reduced life expectancy in South Africa from 63 in 1990, to just 54 in 2010.

In times gone by, it was mortality rate at birth that was the main factor that determined the average life expectancy. If a person survived childhood, there was a good chance they would have a long life ahead.

A male born in Australia today is expected to live to 79.7 years and a female 83.2 years – reflecting the healthier lifestyle of females. An unfortunate blight on Australian society is that our indigenous population lives on average 10 years less.

A 20 year old today is 3 times more likely to reach 100 than their grand parents. In fact, a newborn boy today has a 1-in-4 chance of living to 100. For girls, 1-in-3 will be centurions.

Are you excited about the idea of living to 100? Or does this thought conjure up images of a frail body and mind, confined to a nursing home?

Australia’s biggest health problem

An international study published in the Lancet this month looked at health trends between 1990 and 2013 across 188 countries. The Global Burden of Disease study showed that Lower Back Pain is the leading cause of disability in 45 out of 50 developed countries including Australia.

In Australia the top 5 non-fatal health problems are:

  1. Low back pain
  2. Clinical depression
  3. Muscle, joint and bone pain
  4. Neck pain
  5. Migraine

Lower back pain was also in the top 10 for every single one of the 188 countries in the study, which highlights the importance and pervasiveness of this uncomfortable and often debilitating condition.

We might be living longer, but it seems many of these years are spent living with disability.

Too many Australians endure back or neck pain without realising what they can do to manage or prevent spinal problems. This is where chiropractic can help. Even the Harvard Medical School has found chiropractic care to be beneficial in the management of a number of conditions including back pain, migraines, neck pain and whiplash.

Getting the most out of your years

Certain cultures appear to live longer and healthier lives. Sardinia, an autonomous region of Italy, has the highest documented percentage of centurions in the world. Scientists believe this to be due to a combination of genetics, diet and lifestyle.

While you have no control over your genetics, you can control how your genetic potential is expressed, and thereby improve your chances of having a robust and healthy life.

Here are just a few tips to consider:

  1. Give purpose to your life. Inspiration goes on long after motivation had fallen away.
  2. Take every opportunity to move your body. Don’t sit if you can stand, don’t drive if you can walk.
  3. Enjoy nutritious and natural foods.
  4. Feed your brain with new and novel experiences – love to learn.
  5. Life is about fulfillment, not just happiness. Embrace all emotions (even the bad ones).
  6. Respect your spine – get regular adjustments and maintain your postural fitness.