Tithonus, in Greek legend, was a prince of Troy who married the goddess Eos. Eos, wanting her husband to be immortal like her, beseeched Zeus to grant Tithonus eternal life. Zeus granted Eos’s wish for her husband to have eternal life, but she forgot to ask for eternal youth as well. Thus, Tithonus became old, and though he would live for eternity, he continued to wither and decay.
This legend is a fitting example of the difference between life span and health span. A person could live to be 100 years old, but their last 40 years could also be characterized by declining health span and the suffering that comes with things like arthritis, cancer, cognitive decline, immobility, and fatigue. Unfortunately, most people only go to a physician when they have a health problem that needs treatment. While there is a time and place for disease treatment, the “ignore our health until there is a problem” mentality only leads to an ever increasingly ill population. I suggest we shift our thinking by focusing on propagating and maintaining wellness, so we can optimize our health and age gracefully.
Three Daily Practices that Increase Health Span
Exercise regularly. Exercise is one of the most important factors in improving one’s health span. According to the CDC, the average adult needs 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity and 2 days of muscle strengthening activity weekly. Study after study has shown the many benefits of consistent, moderate intensity exercise.
Drink plenty of water. I tell my patients to start their day with a big glass of water and maintain good hydration throughout the day. Although the needed amount differs for everyone, a general rule is to drink approximately half one’s body weight in ounces of water daily. For example, if you are 120 lbs, you likely need a minimum of 60 ounces of water every day. Water is a crucial part to how our cells make energy for us and how we extract nutrients from our food.
Eat lots of fruits and veggies. Much research has come out over the years about how important fruits and vegetables are to our daily diet. A recent Harvard study showed that eating 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables daily provides significant longevity benefits. A serving is a little different for each fruit and vegetable, but generally about a cup of raw vegetables and a medium sized fruit (about the size of your fist) would each be considered a serving.
If you’d like support with your wellness goals, Mederi Center is offering a special introductory rate of $50 off per session for out-of-pocket consultations with me (in-person or virtual) that occur before June 30, 2023. We also accept insurance with Regence, Providence, Aetna, and Moda.