Children born today in the United States can expect to live nearly 78 years. That life expectancy is a great leap forward from 1900, when the average newborn couldn’t expect to reach age 50. Similar increases have been seen in in developed nations all around the world. In the 20th century, life expectancy increased more than it had in any century since the beginning of human civilization.

Life expectancy at various ages in teh United States

And the longer you live, the longer you can expect to live. Average life expectancy for a newborn American is 78 years, while it is 84 years for a 65-year-old and 87 years for a 75-year old.

But extending the lifespan has also increased the burden of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, and other conditions that tend to affect older individuals. Most of these diseases, though, aren't inevitable consequences of aging. Instead, many are preventable.

Solid research from long-term studies such as the Framingham Heart Study, the Nurses' Health Study, and others have shown that the combination of not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar in check can prevent three-quarters or more of these chronic conditions.

Aging Articles

Can this DNA test help predict your longevity?

Telomeres are strands of expendable DNA that form protective caps on the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres protect chromosomes from shortening when a cell divides. Telomeres are damaged each time a cell divides and tend to shorten as a person ages. Commercial telomere tests promise to reveal a person’s telomere length and uncover a person’s true biological age. But it’s unclear if the tests are accurate and what a person’s telomere length actually means for health or longevity. (Locked) More »

Staving off dementia when you have mild cognitive impairment

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) progresses to full-blown dementia about 15% of the time among people 65 or older, and more frequently when a neurodegenerative disease (like Alzheimer’s) causes it. In that case, there are no medicines to stop this progression. However, some research suggests that a combination of healthy lifestyle habits, such as exercise and a healthy diet, may delay progression. When MCI is caused by an underlying condition, such as sleep deprivation, it may be possible to reverse it. (Locked) More »

Why am I losing weight?

Unexplained weight loss should be investigated. It may be caused by an overactive thyroid, cancer, or a chronic infection. (Locked) More »

Forgetful? When to worry about memory changes

Memory changes can be scary, but they don’t always indicate Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Even so, a physician should evaluate sudden changes in the ability to perform daily activities. Early diagnosis has a number of benefits. (Locked) More »

Getting stronger despite frailty

Disease, surgery, and Father Time all can make men become frail and weak, which increases their risk of injury and slows recovery. However, there are ways to protect against frailty and even reverse its effects by adopting a multipronged approach of sufficient aerobic workouts, progressive resistance training, balance exercises, and proper nutrition. (Locked) More »

Tips to help you embrace abdominal workouts

Some people don’t enjoy doing abdominal exercises and may find it more palatable to sprinkle abdominal exercises throughout the day. Ideas include taking a quick break to march in place, do a modified push-up, or stand on one leg. The key is to make each ab exercise count by “activating” the muscles. That means drawing in the belly button toward the spine, holding the position for 10 seconds, then relaxing and repeating. More »

Valve replacement: Mechanical or tissue?

For an aortic valve replacement, experts usually recommend mechanical valves for people under age 50 and tissue valves for those over age 70. For people between those two ages, neither type has a clear advantage over the other. (Locked) More »