Archive for the tag - life expectancy

Every Hour of Television Trims 22 Minutes from Your Life.

wasted lifeHow many hours a day do you spend watching television? According to 2010 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American 15 years of age or older spends 2.7 hours daily. 2009 data from Nielsen, however, suggests that the real number might be closer to 5 hours.

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that each hour spent watching television shaves 22 minutes off of your life expectancy. In other words, if you watch television 5 hours daily for a year, then your life expectancy is shortened by nearly a month. It’s a sobering statistic and yet another study to find a link between sitting and mortality.

For the study, which aimed to quantify the link between television viewing mortality, researchers created a “life table model” that combined data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study. Based on the data, researchers concluded that very single hour of television viewed after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.

To put things in perspective, one hour of television viewing has the same impact on life expectancy as smoking two cigarettes.

The bottom line: It’s clear that all of us need to sit less and move more. And the next time you’re watching The Real Housewives, ask yourself, “Is this really worth it?”

Do Overweight People Live Longer?

Do overweight people live longer? Yes, according to a slew of new research.

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewed more than 100 previously published research papers about the link between body weight and mortality risk for nearly 3 million participants. Not surprisingly, obese people had an increased risk of death during the course of the study. But interestingly, overweight (but not obese) individuals had a 6% decreased risk of mortality when compared to their so-called “normal weight” counterparts. The findings held true despite gender, smoking status and region of the world.

With more than 2/3 of Americans overweight, the term “normal weight” is actually a bit misleading. The study used body mass index (BMI) categories set by the Word Health Organization as follows:

  • Underweight = BMI less than 18.
  • Normal weight = BMI between 18.5 and 25
  • Overweight = BMI between 25 and 30
  • Obese = BMI of over 30

The findings aren’t really new, but many people continue to be surprised by the data. Most people don’t expect to find a benefit associated with being overweight, so what’s the real story? Why might overweight people actually live longer?

There are a few theories.

For one, overweight people may get better medical care because they’re either screened more regularly or already seeking treatment for an ailment. This added medical care might give overweight individuals a leg up on their thinner counterparts.

Alternatively, the researchers believe there may be a high chance for overweight people to survive medical emergencies. For example, if you get sick and lose 20 pounds, it helps to have the extra 20 pounds to lose.

Or it could be that the thin people are thin because they’re already sick. It could basically be a case of reverse causation. Perhaps being thin doesn’t make you sick, but being sick makes you thin.

Moreover, the study doesn’t look at quality of life or how healthy thin vs. overweight individuals were at the time of death.

The study certainly isn’t a free pass to gain some extra weight or to eat an extra scoop of ice cream. Instead, it shows us how complicated the link is between our weight, our health and our longevity.

Physical Activity Extends Life Expectancy 4.5 Years.

We know that physical activity has a long list of benefits, one of which includes extending your life expectancy. But by how much? Thanks to a new study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), we now have the answer.

Up to 4.5 years.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human services recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 complete 2.5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity each week (or 1.25 hours of vigorous intensity activity). Using these guidelines, researchers from NCI looked at data from 650,000 adults while controlling for other factors that could influence life expectancy.

Based on the data, researchers found that getting just half the recommended physical activity resulted in a life expectancy gain of 1.8 years. Getting the full recommended amount of physical activity resulted in a 3.4 year gain. Getting twice resulted in 4.2 years. And getting triple the amount of activity resulted in a 4.5 year gain.

Not surprisingly, researchers found that obesity was linked to shorter lifespans – but they also discovered that physical activity helped to reverse some of the harm. Whether or not you’re in shape, physical activity helps to extend your life expectancy.

We know that regular physical activity helps maintain healthy weight, strong bones, agile joints, muscle mass, psychological well-being and a reduced risk of certain diseases. And now, looking at this study’s findings, we can see those benefits collectively quantified in terms of life expectancy.

It’s why I like to say that we don’t have time not to workout. I have too much to do to die 4.5 years early. What about you?

Calculate Your Life Expectancy.

While much of the Valentine’s Day hooplah is about giving gifts to others, I have a gift suggestion for your body: Use the lifespan calculator to test your life expectancy. And then, do something about it.

Based on a number of variables, this quick test will put together an estimated expiration for your life. Using equations, data and research, the approximation is obviously just an educated guess. You could, for example, get hit by a car crossing the street later this afternoon.

The real value in the lifespan calculator is noticing how your answers change your estimated age of death. Some of the variables – like family history – are unchangeable. But many of the answers, like those related to exercise and nutrition, are within your control. To these answers, I’d encourage you to pay special attention.

For example, to talk about alcohol abuse is one thing. But to see how many years it shaves of your life can be a real wake up call. And it can be a real motivator to make the changes – or get the help – that is required.

As Valentine’s Day is about love, there’s no better way to show your body some love than by making decisions – and changes in your lifestyle – that honor it. Get started today by calculating your estimated lifespan.

P.S. In the comments below, share your estimated lifespan – and a change or two that you can make to extend it. Mine was 92.