Healthspan is a brand new term in the health world, and so things can easily be confusing -- especially when comparing it to other terms like lifespan or longevity. In this guide, we go over what it all really means.
On its surface level, it’s easy to say that longevity is just another synonym for life expectancy. The reality, however, is that there’s a lot more to longevity than what you might initially think.
There’s the fact that modern medicine and diet has already brought up our lifespan considerably. However, we're also spending a lot more time in hospitals and hospice. As it turns out, those extra years don't really mean anything -- the reality of our extra years is that they're spent in fragile treatments and therapies. Because of this, longevity isn't just lifespan.
Instead, we need to bring healthspan into the equation. Healthspan is the time we are healthy. This creates a much greater goal, but also a more difficult challenge. Because of this, we see longevity as the combination of healthspan and lifespan.
Secondly, there’s a lot of different types of longevity “health”. When we think of the word health, we typically think physical health; staying cancer-free, being able to move around adequately, etc. However, there are two other often neglected parts of longevity health: mental longevity and financial longevity.
Just as there are diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s that deteriorate the body over time, there are diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s that deteriorate the mind. A somewhat troubling fact is that physical longevity strategies that work well at keeping physical deterioration at bay don’t always help to defend against mental deterioration. Because of this, some alternate strategies are needed.
Here at Shanah, we use three main tactics to improve mental healthspan: mindfulness, memory, and social strength. Mindfulness doesn’t just include meditation, but also other known benefactors to mental longevity such as an optimistic growth mindset. Memory is both about learning new skills as well as retaining old ones. Finally, social strength is tied to the inherent importance of social relationships when it comes to a person’s healthspan.
Next, we move into financial longevity. This one might trip people up, if you aren’t thinking carefully. After all, what the hell does money have to do with lifespan, beyond being able to pay for more expensive treatments?
Well, when we consider living a long time, we need to consider all the factors that go into it. Healthy body? Check. Stable mind? Check. A place to live, food to eat, fun to have…?
As it turns out, living an extra 20 years can be quite expensive! This is where financial longevity really comes into play. I imagine it’s preferable to not be working those extra healthy years, and so you’ll need to make some strides in investments and saving in order to hit that.
So, how do you go about improving your physical, mental, and financial longevity? Well, there’s a few different methods you can use. Here’s a couple that we often recommend:
While strength training sure makes you look good, there’s surprisingly little proof that it helps promote your general healthspan. So instead, we focus on cardio. In particular, endurance training such as bodyweight challenges or long distance running can help a lot. Personally, we have to recommend High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which has had a lot of solid correlation to physical longevity in studies over the past few years!
Diet is of course one of the keystones to a healthy and long-lasting body. Plant-rich foods are a big part of longevity research into dieting. While most dieting plans don’t pass the test of time, the Mediterranean diet has proven to be surprisingly resilient, and so we recommend this one.
You didn’t think this would be on a longevity post? You’d be wrong. In reality, mental health is just as important as physical health when it comes to lifespan, primarily due to the massive amount of mental diseases that can occur. We recommend meditating for 10 minutes a day.
Memory is a big part of a lot of old-age issues. Best way to improve your memory at a late stage? Keep learning! Read books, do projects, take classes… All of these are good methods of keeping your brain active.
Financial longevity is a key piece to the healthspan puzzle, and perhaps the most fundamental step to achieving financial longevity is by building a budget. Building a budget can seem intimidating if you've never done it before, but we have a simple solution for you to try out.
When it comes to building a budget, we prefer the business method. All businesses are required to keep three types of documents: income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. We think these documents make the cornerstone of a good personal budget as well!
Want to learn more about healthspan? For a limited time, we’re giving a free guide on longevity and healthspan to whoever signs up for our mailing list! You can learn more here.