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What is Healthspan?

Article Details
  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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While lifespan refers to the number of years lived, healthspan refers to the number of years lived in a healthy, vital state. A person's lifespan might far exceed their healthspan. The idea is to prolong the healthspan for a greater portion of life, so that disease associated with old age is negated, stopped or even reversed, until a time that is closer to the actual end of life.

Some medical professionals believe that there must be a paradigm shift in thinking to extend the healthspan. Traditionally, Western medicine has treated the symptoms of old age —- age-related diseases -- rather than the problem of aging itself. Instead of looking at age-related diseases as a product of old age, some doctors believe these diseases cause the aging process, and that by eliminating the source of these diseases, aging can be stopped and even reversed. This doesn't mean people won't grow older, but their healthspan and quality of life could be drastically extended well into what is now considered "old age."

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According to the paradigm, most diseases of old age are actually long term ramifications of unhealthy choices made earlier in life, turned into lifelong habits. Decades of not exercising, eating poorly or consuming too much caffeine or alcohol, and even poor management of stress, all contribute to physical conditions that ultimately culminate in the onset of "age-related diseases." Adult type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, heart disease, depression and so on, cut the healthspan short. These diseases and many more might be prevented, reversed or stopped from progressing further by taking actions that enliven and prolong the healthspan.

Generally, doctors suggest building good daily habits of at least 30 minutes of varied exercise, smart food choices and healthy stress management. Stress management might be achieved through daily meditation and yoga, taking time for personal creative hobbies, or other calming, enriching activities. Some doctors also advocate specific vitamin supplements and pharmaceutical human growth hormones (HGH). Growth hormones are thought to play a vital role in many of the positive health benefits associated with youth, including energy, clarity of mind, supple skin and lean muscle mass. Other hormone therapies might also be suggested, perhaps with an emphasis on bio-identical hormones versus hormones from non-human sources, such as horses.

While Western medicine has people living longer, it takes personal responsibility to drastically extend the healthspan to match the lifespan. Though this takes effort, the cause is a worthy one. Even seniors can benefit by adopting positive new habits that can dramatically affect well-being and health. Be sure to see your doctor before starting any new regimen. This article is not professional medical advice, and is simply informational.

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