U.S. Life Expectancy Drops for First Time in 24 Years. So Now What?
How long will you live?
It’s not a question many of us want to spend a lot of time pondering. But perhaps we should.
Statistics released by the National Center for Health Statistics in December, 2016 show that American life expectancy has decreased for the first time in more than two decades. The average life expectancy for Americans is 78.8 years. The life expectancy for the average American male fell from 76.5 to 76.3 years. For women, it dropped from 81.3 to 81.2 years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease continues to rank as the leading cause of death in the United States. But the good news is that simple lifestyle changes can significantly improve your heart health—and your odds of living a longer. Below are three tips on how to live a long life:
1. Get moving. A study cited by the American Heart Association shows that walking briskly for just 30 minutes a day can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running. One step at a time, you can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
2. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, even modest weight loss can improve or prevent health problems associated with being overweight or obese. That’s why they recommend following a heart healthy diet that includes low-calorie, nutrient dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They also suggest weighing yourself at least once a week and knowing and avoiding the “food traps” that trigger impulse eating.
3. If you smoke, stop. Smoking contributes to a long list of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, osteoporosis, emphysema, and stroke—and stopping smoking tops the list of Harvard Medical School’s “Tips for a Longer Life”. Research shows that when smokers quit, their risk of heart disease begins to drop within months. Within five years, it matches that of a person who has never smoked.
The bottom line? We each possess a great degree of control over our health and our odds of greater longevity. It’s all about making choices—and healthy lifestyle changes.