Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 20 January 2013
I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to another episode of Health Matters. In Health Matters I take a closer look at the S word that has become one of the biggest challenges to our health and wellbeing STRESS.
This week I like to talk about ageing. Have you hear or read about research done by Doctor Rudi Westendorp from the University of Leiden as regards to our life-expectancy?
In brief Dr Westendorp says that biologically we’re programmed to become 50 years old but children that are born today will probably become 100. Yes 100… doubling what we are biologically programmed for. Interesting to know is that in 1914 the average age of British men was 50 and women 54. That’s a huge increase in life expectancy in a very VERY short time… and probably never seen before in our history.
Today a life expectancy of 80 or 90 is already considered normal. However how are going to experiencing these extra years? In health or sickness? Will we age gracefully?
I don’t think it will come as a surprises to you but all that depends on your health behaviour of today. Keeping those stress levels balanced out is one major factor for staying healthy in later life.
Knowing what you want is another. Many people fall into a black whole when they retire… according to Dr Westendorp we don’t seem to know what to do with the extra time that is given to us.
To live longer should be a present and we should accept that getting older comes with a wrinkle … or two. Also it is not because you’re having your 65 plus card that you suddenly should stop using that stair in the metro or your bike to get around for short distances no you need keep moving.
Keeping up a good social life is also critical. Who lives alone will get ill more quickly and dies faster. Statistics show that being alone is far more deadly than smoking… still… smoking should be avoided as it will reduce your quality of later life and reduce your life expectancy significantly too.
To come back to element of stress. How does stress reduce your life expectancy? Well it will increase the wear and tear on your heart and vascular system for one but also and what is less known it will effect your DNA. Stress has an influence on the length of your telemores which is a protective hood that sits at the end of your chromosomes. Stress increases the speed of degeneration of these telomeres and reduced telomeres length is associate with disease and decrease in life expectancy.
It is not only stress that has an influence on telomere length also lifestyle factors, like smoking, and malnutrition
However the good news is that health promoting behaviour like breathing exercises, meditation, a balanced diet, social support and exercise have proven to reverse telomere loss and even increase it size again.
There another good reason for taking good care of your body as Health Matters today and can’t be postponed till tomorrow.
On that note I’m Tom Meyers stress coach for body and mind and contributor of thought to a healthier and more joyful way of living.
For more information on Health Matters visit my website tommeyers.be