Often, the phrase “markers of longevity” is used to refer to all the tests you’d undergo in a clinic. But, biological health isn’t the only thing that you should be concerned about as you get older.
Experts now believe that you can get a fair idea of your general health without having to book a doctor’s appointment. Here are a few non-biological markers that indicate good health and longevity.
1. Social Well-being
Social wellbeing is often ignored and underrated. However, research indicates that having an active social life, maintaining social ties, and regular social engagement in later life is associated with better overall health and a reduced risk of mortality.
It’s important to note that the specific aspects of social well-being that are important are unclear as of yet. But, if you find yourself staying home more often than not, it might be a good idea to attend more events, join a club, or sign up for classes.1
2. Physical Capability
You don’t need help from professionals and technology to determine if you’re physically fit. Simple things like being able to haul a moderately heavy bag of groceries up the stairs, walking at a moderate speed without going out of breath, and walking backward without falling can determine if you’re getting weaker.
If you’d like to take it up a notch, time a mile-long run. If you’re a man in your 50s you should be able to complete the run in 8 minutes or less and if you’re a woman, you should be looking at 9 minutes or less.2
These few “tests” can help you determine where you stand and work towards getting better. To stay fit, try simple strength exercises with a trainer and incorporate some form of cardio into your routine. Additionally, be sure to have a diet rich in protein since you lose muscle density as you get older.3
3. Emotional Health
Contrary to what some people believe, happiness isn’t overrated. In fact, research indicates that it determines the fate of your health.
Your emotional health, which is dictated by your sense of autonomy, self-acceptance, purpose in life, personal growth, and life satisfaction can help you thrive in the face of any age-related challenges. Additionally, studies show that the people who perceive themselves as healthy tend to have lower cases of morbidity and, in turn, mortality.4
These studies that link good emotional health to lowered mortality risk, do so irrespective of initial health status.5 If you’d like to work on your emotional health, be sure to manage stress, take time out for yourself, go back to your old memories and celebrate your successes, and compliment yourself every day.
Being forgetful, making the occasional bad decision, missing a few payments, and forgetting which words to use at times are common signs of aging. However, if you’re able to recall stories, important words, and pay attention to people, it’s a sign of good health.
Nevertheless, if you’d like to strengthen your memory you could keep up with puzzles, discussion groups, reading, using the computer, playing bridge, playing board games, and playing musical instruments. Additionally, you could enroll yourself in academic classes that require you to work on your vocabulary and cognition.6
5. The Age Of Retirement
Early retirement seems like a healthy choice since most people take it to get rid of stress and anxiety brought on by their jobs. However, research links early retirement to a higher risk of mortality.
To be specific, early retirement is believed to lead to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, and depression.7 This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give up your job. If you do take an early retirement, consider having a small venture of your own, or engaging yourself in hobbies and traveling.8
6. Financial Security
Financial security might not seem like an important aspect of longevity, but studies indicate that worrying about your finances in the latter stages of your life can adversely affect your health. And, this worsens when you retire at an early age.9
This risk of mortality could be due to the fact that people under financial distress report early disability, psychological disorders, chronic illnesses, and poor general health, irrespective of life insurance, age, sex, or race. Hence, if you’d like to avoid being financially insecure, plan your retirement well, invest smartly, and be content with what you have.10
7. Size Of Your Medicine Cabinet
If you have a drawer full of medicines, or a large, fully-stocked medicine cabinets, you might be unhealthy. This doesn’t refer to the medicines you need for an ongoing disorder, but for unnecessary ones that can be replaced with a few lifestyle choices.
Studies show that the United States has a problem of overtreatment because doctors feel that patients won’t make lifestyle changes, or wouldn’t be happy walking out with one as a remedy. Hence, it’s important to have an honest conversation with your doctor and ask him which prescriptions you can replace with a few healthy practices.11
Besides keeping a track of the things mentioned above, ensure that you eat clean and exercise regularly. Additionally, visit your doctor regularly to prevent a late diagnosis of any disorder.
|↑1||Bath, Peter A., and Dorly Deeg. “Social engagement and health outcomes among older people: introduction to a special section.” European Journal of Ageing 2, no. 1 (2005): 24-30.|
|↑2||Gupta, Sachin, Anand Rohatgi, Colby R. Ayers, Benjamin L. Willis, William L. Haskell, Amit Khera, Mark H. Drazner, James A. de Lemos, and Jarett D. Berry. “Cardiorespiratory fitness and classification of risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.” Circulation (2011): CIRCULATIONAHA-110.|
|↑3||Lara, Jose, Alan Godfrey, Elizabeth Evans, Ben Heaven, Laura JE Brown, Evelyn Barron, Lynn Rochester, Thomas D. Meyer, and John C. Mathers. “Towards measurement of the Healthy Ageing Phenotype in lifestyle-based intervention studies.” Maturitas 76, no. 2 (2013): 189-199.|
|↑4||Chida, Yoichi, and Andrew Steptoe. “Positive psychological well-being and mortality: a quantitative review of prospective observational studies.” Psychosomatic medicine 70, no. 7 (2008): 741-756.|
|↑5||Ryff, Carol D., Burton H. Singer, and Gayle Dienberg Love. “Positive health: connecting well-being with biology.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 359, no. 1449 (2004): 1383.|
|↑6||Harada, Caroline N., Marissa C. Natelson Love, and Kristen L. Triebel. “Normal cognitive aging.” Clinics in geriatric medicine 29, no. 4 (2013): 737-752.|
|↑7||Waldron, Hilary. Links between early retirement and mortality. No. 93. Social Security Administration, Office of Policy, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics, 2001.|
|↑8||Doshi, Jalpa A., Liyi Cen, and Daniel Polsky. “Depression and Retirement in Late Middle‐Aged US Workers.” Health services research 43, no. 2 (2008): 693-713.|
|↑9||Ramsey, Scott D., Aasthaa Bansal, Catherine R. Fedorenko, David K. Blough, Karen A. Overstreet, Veena Shankaran, and Polly Newcomb. “Financial insolvency as a risk factor for early mortality among patients with cancer.” Journal of Clinical Oncology 34, no. 9 (2016): 980-986.|
|↑10||Szanton, Sarah L., Jerilyn K. Allen, Roland J. Thorpe Jr, Teresa Seeman, Karen Bandeen-Roche, and Linda P. Fried. “Effect of financial strain on mortality in community-dwelling older women.” The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 63, no. 6 (2008): S369-S374.|
|↑11||Lyu, Heather, Tim Xu, Daniel Brotman, Brandan Mayer-Blackwell, Michol Cooper, Michael Daniel, Elizabeth C. Wick, Vikas Saini, Shannon Brownlee, and Martin A. Makary. “Overtreatment in the United States.” PloS one 12, no. 9 (2017): e0181970.|