We hope that spring has brightened your life in some way, as it has ours.
I was struck by a recent article in our local news, the Independent Journal.
It noted that a recent study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a health research center at the University of Washington, Seattle, surveyed county-by-county estimates of life expectancy in the U.S. between 1989 and 2009.
The county with the highest life expectancy for men also has the second highest life expectancy for women.
I was happy to learn that these great longevity statistics are for our own Marin County, CA.
Life expectancy rates for men here in Marin County are 81.6 years, and for women 85.1 years. These life expectancy numbers are contrasted with the lowest in the US, which is in Quitman and Tunica counties in Mississippi at only 66.1 years for men.
The head of the research team at U of W, Dr. Ali Mokdad says it’s because most residents don’t smoke, aren’t obese, are physically active and eat a healthy diet. He’s right.
Here in Marin, smoking is relatively rare, and is banned in public places. The smoking ban has been successful and people are healthier.
As for exercise, it helps to have spectacular views, bike paths, walking trails and a lot of preserved open space. It’s a philosophy here, though. There’s a consciousness about exercise which borders on devotion for some. On the first warm sunny day of April, Mikol was on his bike and every road popular with cyclists was mobbed. Here’s his view (VIDEO).
Walking paths were thick with folks of all ages strolling and jogging. I was doing my part among them in my second season of triathlon training. Marin has a higher than average number of regular exercisers.
There is a vast variety of fresh, organically grown vegetables and fruits here, as we are close to the source. Farmer’s markets are well attended in every tiny city this county has, every day of the week. You don’t see a lot of seniors lining up for the fast food restaurants.
Not only do we have great life expectancy here, we also have a larger percentage of seniors than almost any other county in the state. We have more people living a healthy lifestyle as they age. They are a great example to everyone.
What’s the takeaway?
If you want to enjoy longevity and feel better as you age, the basics your doctor tells you are the key. There is no secret. Don’t smoke, keep your weight in check, exercise regularly and eat what’s good for you. When we hear that aging well is only 30% determined by our genetic makeup and the other 70% is determined by our lifestyle, aging persons in Marin, CA are living that lifestyle.
Do any exercise at all that you like and will commit to making a regular thing. Even if it’s a walk around the block or around the track. All you need are appropriate shoes and the determination to do it. I encourage each person reading this to be inspired a little by our impressive longevity stats. Do what the healthiest folks are doing and you can count yourself among them. That, our friends, is the joy of life.