Five Healthy Habits to Give Us Twelve to Fifteen Additional Years to Celebrate Milestones With Our Grandchildren and Only One Word To Remember

making-runSince the birth of our first grandchild, Grandpa and I periodically converse about how old we are going to be when he graduates from high school, from college and how old we are going to be when he marries.  We wonder if we were going to be alive to be present at these milestones.  He is now in high school and we are happy that we know our presence at his high school graduation is within reach.  We now eye the more distant milestones.  Will we be alive to see a great grandchild?  GG (great grandmother) Lee, at almost age 95, is looking forward to the birth of her ninth great grandchild this September.

Grandpa and I thought we had all of our grandchildren when we had four, the youngest age seven. Presence at his wedding seems a reach, especially now that adults are not marrying now until their thirties, a good thing as it lessens the divorce rate.  A bad thing as twenty three more years at our age seventy one. . . . .

All of a sudden, we are the grandparents of two new babies, joyfully bringing our total grandchildren to six.  We have now hit the average (five to six grandchildren).  We now talk more often about wanting to be alive to reach milestones in their lives and how possible is that achievement, so I paid attention when I saw the article, “5 Healthy Habits Could Extend Life by a Dozen Years or More,” by Karen Kaplan, in the May 10, 2018 Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.

79.3 years is the United States average estimated life expectancy.  Twelve additional years with only five healthy habits!  That is for men.  Fifteen additional years with only five healthy habits!  That is for women. That means that presence at the wedding of our oldest grandson and maybe seeing the birth of a great grandchild is within reach.  It means that presence at the high school graduation of our two youngest baby grandsons is within reach.

Who does not want twelve additional years to celebrate milestones with grandchildren?  The issue becomes that we not only want those twelve to fifteen additional years. . . .we want good health in those twelve to fifteen additional years.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health study, published in Circulation Journal, April 30, 2018, “Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population,” by Yanping Li, An Pan, Dong D. Wang, Xiaoran Liu, Klodian Dhana, Oscar H. Franco, Stephen Kaptoge, Emanuele Di Angelantonio, Meir Stampfer, Walter C. Willett, Frank B. Hu,begins with the statement that we adults in the United States have “a shorter life expectancy compared with residents of almost all other high-income countries.” In 2015 the United States average estimated life expectancy of 79.3 years ranked 15 in the world.  The study’s “aim ‘was’ to estimate the impact of lifestyle factors on premature mortality and life expectancy in the US population.”

Unfortunately, we cannot pick and choose from the healthy lifestyle habits list and do only those we like or find easy, because it is the combination of all of the five healthy lifestyle factors that seems to make the most difference in additional years of life.  The senior author of the study made a statement in the Harvard School of Public Health press release that Americans’ “adherence to healthy lifestyle habits is very low” and he said “public policy” should find ways to emphasize these healthy lifestyle habits.

I know an easy way for us Boomers to take notice.  All we grandparents need to do is imagine what milestones we can be present for in our grandchildren’s lives!

It would seem we grandparents can only go up.  Here is an acronym for remembering the five healthy habits on our “to do to be present for milestones” list.

  1. W Keeping a healthy body weight (low body mass index (18.5-24.9 kg/m2))
  1. E At least 30 minutes or more per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity
  1. A Moderate alcohol intake (up to about one 5-ounce glass of wine per day for women, or up to two glasses for men, as an example)
  1. D Eating a healthy diet
  1. S Not smoking

Following the five healthy lifestyle habits, average estimated longevity goes way up–a woman may live to 93.1 years and a man may live to 87.6 years.

At age 71, it means, by adhering to the five healthy lifestyle habits, and with a bit of luck thrown in, this Grandma and Grandpa could easily make our baby grandchildren’s high school graduation!

It is stairs and the farthest parking spot in the mall parking lot for me from now on repeating WEADS as I go!







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