Strategies to lengthen your life

Feb 29, 2024, 7:06 PM | Updated: Mar 4, 2024, 2:25 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Cleo Comiske rides her stationary bike every morning.

“I’ll get up and pedal fast, fast, fast,” she said. “Good habits will keep you healthy.”

The 86-year-old is extremely vigilant – getting plenty of exercise, rest, and eating right.

Her motivation?

“Well, fortunately, I have a good attitude,” she said. “And vanity, vanity, vanity. Because I want to look good!”

On average, women tend to live five to seven years longer than men, according to the CDC. Though the reasoning is unclear, experts say men have a higher rate of cardiovascular disease, which could contribute to that big gap.

“It’s not just longevity that matters, it’s quality of life,” said Dr. Cynthia Lawlor, medical director of geriatrics for Intermountain Health.

Lawlor sees patients with a variety of health issues, many of which she says are preventable.

“There are things we can do that will help us live the maximum amount of time that our predestined genes have planned for us,” she said. “Really, it comes down to, are we taking care of our bodies in the best way we can?”

According to Lawlor, that means doing the things you know you’re supposed to be doing, like eating in moderation and staying active.

“Fast food should be something you might have four times a year,” Lawlor said. “Focusing on a diet that’s really high in plants is most important. Make sure you get enough protein. Get daily activity. You don’t have to be thin, but you do have to use your muscles so they don’t disappear on you.”

Lawlor suggested taking daily walks or doing things like yoga, weightlifting, or riding bikes. Comiske is a poster child for putting in consistent effort.

“Three to four times a week, I go to the gym, and I walk the mile,” she said. “And being in a three-story condo, I walk up and down the stairs.”

But, she says, that doesn’t mean you can’t have dessert. She sometimes allows herself a treat from her “dessert drawer” or a glass of champagne when in social settings.

“If you want success, it’s going to be on you,” she said.

Doctors stress that longevity isn’t just about your physical health, it’s about your mental health too. They say staying socially active, reading books, and doing other things to stimulate your brain and keep your stress levels down can help lengthen your life.

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Strategies to lengthen your life