Thursday, August 4, 2011

All in the Genes

It turns out that there is no secret to long life. A study conducted at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University has found that many people 100 years or older are no more healthy than the rest of us. Surprisingly, it's not the vitamin-popping health fanatics who are outliving the rest of us, but quite a few smokers, drinkers and those without a gym membership.

It appears that longevity is due mostly to good genes, proving once again that life's not fair and that it's better in life to be lucky than to be good. Those living to a ripe old age are probably the genetically blessed and not everyone within their line is going to be the same. It's about as scientific as the toss of a dime.

But that's no excuse to slack off the diet, exercise and good habits. There's more than enough research out there to show that even mild improvements to eating habits and exercise regimes are beneficial in the long term, regardless of your genes or build. The researchers are also quick to point out that those over 100 generally grew up in a generation with no obesity and a much more physical lifestyle that included more walking and less car dependence. Which makes perfect sense.

It's funny that we live in a society which is health and image obsessed, and yet, we're not more healthy than the generations past. It's probably because our health obsession is more closely linked to image and marketing than most of us think. And it might also be that our chosen lifestyle of cars, work and constant screen time is killing us, despite our desire to take the latest omega something or other. One doesn't balance out the other.

And it may also be because generations past have not been obsessed with health. They were mostly happy to just live their lives and work hard. They didn't sweat the small stuff or read a hundred contradictory studies that said one thing was healthy one week and then not healthy the next (eggs anyone?). Quite frankly, I think previous generations were more relaxed and a heck of a lot less confused.

We should really take a page out of their book and go back to the basics: walk places, eat moderately and nurture our relationships.

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