As we age it’s of little surprise, I’m sure, that we increase the risk of dying from all causes. Age is the number one pre-determinant of dying (this is a happy subject right!) But, there are a number of things we can do to mitigate the risk of dying. Not getting hit by a bus is one, but there are a bunch of lifestyle choices we can make (daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly) that extend our health-span and protect us from death of ACM (all cause mortality). By and large, the earlier in life you can set a steady rhythm of healthy habits the better-off you’ll be later in life. Using Dr Peter Attia’s analogy of setting your ‘glider’ as high as possible early on in life, so as it descends with age (and it will) you can stall the onset of illness, disease and death. Essentially extending your health and lifespan. Think about it in terms of your health today being the legacy that you have created over your previous decades. And this stuff tends to manifest over years if not decades, meaning that you inherit the actions, behaviours and lifestyle choices over a long period of time rather than a few big nights night. Smoking one cigarette probably won’t kill you but smoking for 40 years most likely will (increases your risk of ACM by 40%). Therefore don’t go into a panic if you’ve just got back from 2 weeks partying in Ibiza, as you have years and decades to establish a healthy legacy that you’ll inherit later in life.
When we view health in these terms, it can relieve us of the stress that there is urgency to be the best version of ourselves ASAP and maintain this 100% of the time, this is a non-sense and highly impractical, unrealistic and doomed for failure. Instead doing a few things consistently over long periods of time, can move the needle in a positive direction, without being overwhelming.
I have spoken at length about the ways in which you can set your ‘glider’ high over the years, and if I had to compose a shortlist then I guess it would look a little like this:
- Get good consistent sleep - typically 7-9 hours per night
- Eat predominantly natural and unprocessed - prioritise natural foods over packaged foods to help consumption of nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
- Move your body often - get to the point of perspiration or ‘somewhat’ difficult to maintain a conversation most days if possible.
- Prioritise protein - consume protein with each meal. Protein forms the building blocks for your body.
- Lift heavy - lifting weights at least 2x per week is seen to be very beneficial for overall health, body composition and longevity.
- Periodically limit calories - fasting daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly benefits cellular health and fosters resilience.
- Cook from scratch - fall in love with food, ingredients, cooking, creating and your health will bloom
- Get your heart rate to maximum (seek advice from your health practitioner) at least once per week
- Limit sugar - sugar is pernicious to our health so keeping the lid on it is a prudent course of action
- Stay hydrated - drink 2.5 litres -3 litres daily, more if hot or exercising.
Here is a snippet from a video I shared recently which highlights some actionable points on training and the most effective strategies to improve health span: