I think we can all agree it’s a great time to be alive! While the days of yesteryear were a simpler time, modern technology has added a wealth of knowledge regarding overall health.
Data from the National Vital Statistics System shows that in 2017:
- Life expectancy at age 65 for the total population was 19.5 years, an increase of 0.1 years from 2016.
- Life expectancy for females was consistently higher than it was for males, increasing 0.1 years from 4.9 years in 2016 to 5.0 years.
- The infant mortality rate (IMR) changed from 587.0 infant deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016 to 579.3 in 2017.
(The IMR – a ratio of infant deaths to live births in a given year – is generally regarded as a good indicator of the overall health of a population.)
However, while life expectancy has increased through the years, some factors play into the equation, including human behavior, environment, living standards, health education, and genetics. Click the button below to see results from our life expectancy calculator based on health and lifestyle:
LifeGuide’s Life Expectancy Calculator uses 3,000 unique points to help you understand how long you might expect to live and what can be done to help you beat the odds. Depending on the calculator’s results, you should consider making lifestyle changes in different areas:
Smoking – We know lighting up is terrible for our health. Research shows that smoking reduces life expectancy by seven to eight years. On average, each cigarette shortens your life by anywhere from seven to eleven minutes. In other words, the time it takes you to smoke a cigarette equals the time that cigarette takes off of your life. (1)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that being in the presence of a spouse, parent or coworker who smokes causes about 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year. As a smoker, someone living with you has a 30% increased chance of getting lung cancer or having a heart attack. (2)
Environmental tobacco smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in this country. It kills approximately 53,000 nonsmokers each year through heart disease. For every eight smokers who die from cigarettes, so does one nonsmoker. (3)
Diet – Research continues to underline the impact food has on our overall health. Americans whose diets include fresh, whole foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, and fish have a lower incidence of significant chronic disease and especially of diet-related diseases.
According to the Center for Disease Control, over a third of the U.S. adult population is obese. Unfortunately, the standard American diet is heavy in saturated fats, partially-hydrogenated oils, refined carbohydrates, and highly processed foods. This diet, in combination with a sedentary lifestyle, large portion sizes, and high stress, is blamed for the increase in obesity and associated diseases in the U.S. (4)
A healthy diet includes lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and a moderate amount of unsaturated fats, meat, and dairy. Having a good variety of these foods every day leaves less room for foods that are high in fat and sugar (a leading cause of weight gain).
Together with exercise, eating a healthy diet in the right proportions can also help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Exercise – Being active is one of the best ways to keep your body healthy. Exercise also can improve your overall well-being and quality of life. Regular activity helps the body maintain strength, stamina, and ability to function correctly. Exercise increases muscle strength, which in turn increases your ability to do other physical activities.
Remember: Life expectancy is trending upward. People who are physically active and at a healthy weight live about seven years longer than those who are not active and are obese. The important part is to make those extra years generally healthier years! Staying active helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging. Active adults maintain their quality of life and independence longer as they age.
Thirty minutes of exercise five times a week combined with a healthy diet is a winning combination. However, do not exercise heavily or eat right before bedtime! Sleep also is essential to your health. Quality sleep at the right times will help protect your mental health, physical health, and quality of life.
Environmental improvements beginning in the 1900s extended the average life span dramatically with significant improvements in the availability of food and clean water, better housing and living conditions, reduced exposure to infectious diseases, and access to medical care.
Most significant were public health advances that reduced premature death by decreasing the risk of infant mortality, increasing the chances of surviving childhood, and avoiding infection and communicable disease. (5)
However, poor environmental quality has its most significant impact on people whose health status is already at risk. Preventing exposure to environmental hazards and education are essential resources for responding to disease and monitoring for hazards.
According to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, among the most critical factors to help increase the quality of life are:
Decreasing air pollution is an essential step in creating a healthy environment. Poor air quality contributes to premature death, cancer, and long-term damage to respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Protecting water sources and minimizing exposure to contaminated water sources are important parts of environmental health.
Reducing exposure to toxic substances and hazardous wastes is fundamental to environmental health.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that genetics, the environment, and lifestyle influence longevity. Now people in the United States live about 80 years on average, but some individuals survive for much longer.
The study of longevity genes is a developing science. Genetics determines about 25 percent of the variation in human life span — but which genes, and how they contribute to longevity, are not well understood.
A few of the common variations (called polymorphisms) associated with long lifespans are in the APOE, FOXO3, and CETP genes, but they are not in all individuals with exceptional longevity. It is likely that variants in multiple genes, some of which are unidentified, act together to contribute to a long life. (6)
Some of the gene variants that contribute to a long life are involved with the necessary maintenance and function of the body’s cells. These cellular functions include DNA repair, maintenance of the ends of chromosomes (regions called telomeres), and protection of cells from damage caused by unstable oxygen-containing molecules (free radicals).
Other genes associated with blood fat (lipid) levels, inflammation, and the cardiovascular and immune systems contribute significantly to longevity because they reduce the risk of heart disease (the leading cause of death in older people), stroke, and insulin resistance.
It is essential to note researchers have found that long-lived individuals share similarities that reflect their lifestyles – many are nonsmokers, are not obese, and cope well with stress. (Also, most are women.)
Because of their healthy habits, these older adults are less likely to develop age-related chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, than their same-age peers.
With longer lifespans, it is important to be confident that your retirement funds will last as long as you do. LifeGuide’s Life Expectancy Calculator will help provide insight for long-term planning. Our team is here to answer questions to make the most of your retirement years.
LifeGuide’s Life Expectancy Calculator uses 3,000 unique points to help you understand how long you might expect to live and what can be done to help you beat the odds. Try our “how long will I live calculator”.
(1) Jimmy S. | American Lung Association. https://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/lung-force/lung-force-heroes/stories/Jimmy-S.html
(2) Tobacco Fact File, what are the secrets to quitting smoking? http://www.tobaccofactfile.org/smoked-filled-room.html
(3) Tobacco Fact File, what are the secrets to quitting smoking?. http://www.tobaccofactfile.org/smoked-filled-room.html
(4) How Does Diet Impact Health? | Taking Charge of Your Health and Wellbeing. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-diet-impact-health
(5) Is longevity determined by genetics? – Genetics Home Reference. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/traits/longevity
(6) Is longevity determined by genetics? – Genetics Home Reference. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/traits/longevity