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How long will you live? Yikes, what a question!

Now then, how long do you expect to live? Having just had another birthday, I posed that question to myself and it made me a bit uncomfortable. I then began to look at actuarial tables and the fact is, the figures didn’t really surprise me.

In the United States, most of the statistics indicate that males will live on average to between 75-80 years of age. Females will live on average to between 78-82. Of course, barring some unforeseen health problem, there are a number of factors that can subtract or add years to your life.

The first longevity factor many folks point to (and in some cases count on) is genetics. Yes, genetics is a factor, but not as much as one might think. There have been studies done with identical twins and they demonstrated genetics plays about a 25-30% role in one’s longevity. The other factors all involve lifestyle.

The fact that lifestyle choices play the most important role in longevity should come as no surprise to anyone. Here are the most important lifestyle choices we can make:

* Do not start, or if you do, quit smoking (this is at the top of every list)

* Maintain a positive attitude and properly manage your stress (reduce hypertension)

* Get proper nutrition with lots of vegetables and fruits (especially those high in antioxidants)

* Eat meals low in fat content (manage your cholesterol)

* Get proper sleep (7-8 hours is still best for most people)

* Get 30 minutes (minimum) of aerobic exercise each day

* Follow recommended schedule of health screenings for your age group

I’m sure most of you have heard that one or two drinks each day is also beneficial. Just this week another study came out with the same suggestion. Great news for some of you. My instincts tell me that taking another walk instead of drinking has got to be better for you, but maybe we can start a study looking at people who drink while they walk.

Well, there you have it. Probably nothing you haven’t heard before, but certainly worth thinking about from time to time. I’m not really into preaching to others, but rather presenting information and letting people make their own decisions. The fact is I’m a big guy and some might say, “well, do you follow these suggestions?” No, not all the time, but most of the time I do. The average American adult gains  10-20 lbs. per decade. When I retired, I was too heavy but knew that fast and fad diets would not be the answer. Over the last few years, I have slowly lost 40 lbs. and actively try to continue this pattern of slow but permanent weight loss and control. 

How long will you live? No one really knows, but in most cases, your lifestyle choices will play the most important role in the answer.