A woman's pair of aged hands, fingers interlaced, rest in in her lap. The edge of her green knitted
Centr x Lifespan.io

Healthspan vs lifespan: is ‘getting old’ inevitable?

Centr x Lifespan.io

Centr has partnered with Lifespan.io, a nonprofit leader in longevity science journalism and advocacy, to bring you the latest research on aging and rejuvenation. Learn more about our partnership below.

For most of us, later life is a series of unquestioned events unfolding roughly in this order: We get old, we get sick, we die.

But there’s a growing community of people who don’t believe it has to be that way. In fact, they think that aging itself could be treatable.

Lifespan vs healthspan

As a species, we are living longer than ever. But those extra years aren’t necessarily good ones.

Our lifespan is how long we live, but our healthspan is how many healthy years we enjoy before it all starts to break down.

While lifespan continues to climb, the percentage of our lives spent in good health hasn’t kept pace. That burden of prolonged ill health is felt by economies and communities, but also on a personal level. If you’ve ever cared for an ailing older relative, you’ll be painfully familiar with how devastating it can be.

How do we get ‘old’?

We don’t often stop to consider the processes that drive the deterioration that we associate with an increase in years.

But there is a diverse field of science dedicated to understanding the exact mechanisms that drive aging. One of the more commonly accepted models identifies several ‘hallmarks of aging’. These hallmarks, which include genomic instability and accumulation of worn out cells (cellular senescence), are the reason we all inevitably get sick and die.

Current medical interventions attempt to treat ‘symptoms’ of aging, like cancer and other age-related diseases, but not the underlying processes behind that cancer like cell and immune system breakdown.

Geroscience aims to target the aging mechanisms themselves. But it’s still a pretty new field. At this point, you can’t stroll into your doctor’s office and ask for the DNA repair special.

So as we wait for these biotech innovations to go from the lab to local pharmacy shelf, how can we beat back the bad parts of aging (without the bank account of a billionaire)?

A triptych of Michael Ojilade Jr., Da Rulk and Tahl Rinsky performing their signature moves.

Strengthen your healthspan by training consistently with plenty of movement variety.

4 ways to help your healthspan today

These are the lifestyle factors that research consistently says are most powerful when it comes to slowing aging.

1. Mix up your movement

Exercise is one of the best anti-aging interventions we know of. One study found that women will live 5.6 years longer and men 6.2 years longer on average if they exercise between 1 and 2.5 hours per week.

Exercise will increase the quality of your years, as well as the quantity, and a mixture of styles provides the most comprehensive longevity benefits.

  • Maintaining muscle mass through strength training is associated with better bone density and cellular health. There’s also emerging evidence that strength training can help your body to clear out junk from your cells.
  • Cardio workouts are essential for maintaining heart and lung health, protecting you against the kind of cardiovascular diseases that kill 800 thousand people per year in the US alone.

  • Don’t forget your mobility routine, which helps you to move with ease so you can maintain your hobbies and social ties – a massively underrated factor when it comes to longevity.

2. Mind your visceral fat

Not all fat is created equal. Stored deep in the belly, behind your abdominal muscles and around your organs, visceral fat is linked to health problems like heart disease, breast cancer and more.

Aside from exercise and a healthy diet, there’s evidence that including more polyphenols – think greens, berries, nuts and tea – in your diet could help to reduce visceral fat levels.

3. Eat like your future depends on it

When it comes to longevity, you cannot out-exercise a bad diet. No surprises here: If you want to slow down the aging process, the evidence is in favor of a diet high in whole food like veggies, fruit and legumes, and low in processed foods and sugar.

4. Make good sleep a habit, not a weekend treat

Sleeping well is a superpower for keeping your body and brain healthy. Regular deep sleep is essential for maintaining muscle and controling fat gain. It’s also necessary if you want to flush away the waste that harms brain health – potentially reducing your risk for dementia.

Chris Hemsworth, wearing a full-body wetsuit, stands arms raised and flexed in icy, turbulent ocean waves.

Chris explored cold water swims as a potential longevity strategy in his series Limitless from National Geographic.

The jury is out: future-focused longevity tactics

While more research is needed before we fully understand the impact of these tactics, early results suggest these habits could have a BIG impact on your healthspan.

Disclaimer: This Centr content is adapted with permission from articles written by Lifespan.io. The content herein represents Centr’s interpretation of the original source material: 1, 2, 3.

Centr x Lifespan.io

Centr has partnered with Lifespan.io to bring you the latest in longevity research. Lifespan.io is the leading source of industry news and a nonprofit advocacy foundation whose mission is to accelerate progress toward overcoming age-related diseases. Since 2014, the organization has focused on responsible journalism, high-impact advocacy, and media initiatives that make longevity research and education more accessible to all.

Centr x Lifespan.io

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