It would be nice to know how much time we get on this planet so we could plan out how to adequately use that time. Yes, the motto is "Live everyday as if it were your last," but, come on, that's just not practical — but the good news is that there are a number of things that might predict how long you'll live, so at least there's that. It's interesting to think about the choices we'd make if we knew when the end was nigh — would we worry less about our careers? Travel more? Get, er, busy in the bedroom more frequently? Nobody wants to prematurely worry about their bucket list, so a little advance planning never hurts.
When it comes to determining how long you'll live, many factors come into play. Sometimes it's a genetic lottery; some things are lifestyle choices; but either way, unfortunately, no fortuneteller can give you an accurate prediction. There are statistics available that can give you a sense of what is likely based on algorithms, but there are always outliers (Keith Richards, for example). Luckily, life expectancy in America is on the rise. In 2012, it rose to a record high of 78.8, where it has remained, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breaking it down by gender, life expectancy for women rose to 81 years in 2012 and for men it hovered around 76. The CDC's 10 leading causes of death accounted for nearly 75 percent of all deaths in America. You can try to calculate your life span with this nifty quiz, too. So how can we use the data available to predict how long we will live? Let's check out some deciding factors.
It's difficult not to get stressed out when you add up all the things we juggle on a daily basis. The pressures we are under at work and in our relationships, can make us permanently want to hide under a slanket. It's important to find a stress reducer that works for you — be it yoga, a hot bath, or mindfullness training — because stress has been linked with higher risk of mortality. A 2015 study by The University of California San Fransisco found that women suffering from chronic stress had lower levels of the age regulating and cognition enhancing hormone klotho. Women suffering from depression proved to have even lower levels of the longevity hormone than those dealing with stress. Levels of klotho has links to premature development of disease and even death. Add that to the correlations found between chronic stress and cardiovascular risk, and it might be time to light some candles and take some deep breaths.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by making sure we move around enough has been the go-to advice for improving longevity since our ancestors were chasing the holy grail. But the question of exactly how much is enough remains. Do you have to try and squeeze in a run at the gym every day before work to be healthy? Turns out, according to the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, all you need is 51 minutes or six miles of cardio per week to get the full health benefits and mortality reduction. Overdoing it regularly with strenuous fast running could even affect your health negatively, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, so consider that a reason to spend your time doing things you love instead of constantly pounding the treadmill.
The fact that smarter people tend to live longer may seem like a fairly obvious observation; after all, studies have shown a very positive correlation between education and better health. But you don't have to spend years getting your PhD to live longer. According to some studies, your IQ might also have something to do with it. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh reviewed data attempting to find a link between the results of childhood IQ tests and human life expectancy. They examined the exams of children living in Scotland born in 1921 who had taken the IQ test at age 11. They found that people who had performed better on the test were more likely to live to age 75. There are many factors that influenced this study and social and economic factors are also at play. But, hey, it doesn't hurt to have another reason for why it's cool to be a nerd.
4. A Happy Partnership
Traditional opinions have held that being in a happy marriage is linked to a longer lifespan. A 2013 study from Duke University Medical Center found that for baby boomers born in the 1940s, having a partner during middle age was protective against premature mortality. Data revealed that the individuals who were never married were over twice as likely to die early than those who had been in a stable union. But that doesn't mean that if you're single, you need to get hitched right away for survival's sake! Recent studies have determined that marriage might be more beneficial health-wise to men than women. However, the likely health benefits of the marriage union remain — marriage can influence safer behavior, healthier habits, and less chance of social isolation. But if you're stuck in an unhappy union, that can be harmful, increasing chances of things like depression and high blood pressure in women. It's definitely healthier to be single and lovin' it than married and not.
5. Smoking Habits
Smoking has been proven time and again to be one of the worst things you can do to your body. Even if you just have a few drags while you drink and don't consider yourself to be a smoker, there can still be consequences. Not every smoker is going to die of lung cancer or heart disease, but on average, a smokers' life expectancy is 10 years shorter than a non-smoker's. And smokers' overall mortality is three times higher than those who never picked up the habit.
6. Getting Just Enough Sleep
A 2012 study conducted by University of California San Diego and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that the optimal amount of sleep for increased longevity was between six and seven hours for adults. Getting less than five and a half hours or more than seven on average of Zz's decreased longevity. We all want to cram more hours into the day, but studies show that chronic sleep deprivation can increase risks of hypertension, stroke, and heart attack. So if you're not at seven hours, hit that snooze button!