Total Health in Midlife #156: Health Span vs Lifespan

Health Span vs Lifespan

How would you redefine aging? 

This episode is all about that – not just adding years to your life, but adding life to your years. We dive into the intriguing contrast of health span versus lifespan and underline the importance of proactive health management for a vibrant future. 

Hear firsthand stories of individuals thriving in their later years and those facing challenges, drawing attention to the long-term impact of our daily habits on our health and finances.

Leaping simply surviving to thriving, we discuss the power of physical activities, mental and emotional well-being, and independence in living a fulfilling health span. 

Have you ever wondered about the real impact of investing in your health? Discover how mindset, habits, and health coaching can pave the way for a healthier, happier future. 

Remember, every step counts when it comes to a fulfilling health span. So, are you ready to make those choices that lead to vibrant aging?

Chapter Summaries

Thriving in Aging (0:00:04) 

Healthspan vs. lifespan, living well, small changes, thriving, physical activities, mental and emotional well-being, independence, long and healthy life.

Invest in Health for Vibrant Future (0:12:20) 

Investing in our health has long-term benefits, mindset is crucial, and health coaching offers empowerment.

The Importance of Health and Aging (0:20:32) 

Healthspan and lifespan are discussed, emphasizing the importance of living better and making healthy choices at any age.

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode

  • Discover the key difference between health span and lifespan, highlighting the importance of vibrant, independent living as we age, surpassing mere longevity.
  • How adopting good health habits in retirement enhances the quality of life, saves money, boosts productivity, and sets the stage for a vibrant, fulfilling future.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

Have you ever considered the difference between just living longer and what it takes to live well? It’s a question that might seem simple, but the answer is anything but.

Today, we’re tackling a topic that could change the way that you think about aging. What if I told you that the secret to a vibrant, independent life as you age isn’t just about adding years to your life but adding life to your years. And what if making a few small changes now could mean the difference between a future filled with vitality and one burdened by health issues?

In this episode, we are diving deep into the concept of health span versus lifespan. And it’s a conversation filled with revelations that you’re not going to want to miss. We’ll explore real stories, practical tips, and crucial insights that could redefine your approach to health and aging.

So, as you’re ready to discover how to truly thrive at any age, stay tuned. This might just be the most important episode you listen to this year.

Welcome to Total Health and Midlife, the podcast for women embracing the pivotal transformation from the daily grind to the dawn of a new chapter. I’m Elizabeth, your host and fellow traveler on this journey.

As a Life and Health Coach, I am intimately familiar with the changes and challenges we face during this stage. Shifting careers, changing relationships, our new bodies, and redefining goals and needs as we start to look to the future and ask, what do I want?

In this podcast, we’ll explore physical, mental, and emotional wellness, offering insights and strategies to achieve optimal health through these transformative years.

Yes, it’s totally possible.

Join me in this amazing journey of body, mind, and spirit, where we’re not just improving our health, but transforming our entire lives.

Hey everyone, welcome to the Total Health in Midlife podcast. I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman. I am so glad that you’re tuning in today. You know, as we’re stepping into this new year, it’s the perfect time to talk about something that’s really been on my mind lately. It’s about our health, but not in the way that you might be thinking.

Today, we are going to talk about something that I find incredibly interesting and super important. The difference between Health span and Lifespan. Now, I know what you might be thinking, health span, Lifespan, what’s the difference, right?

But trust me, this is a game changer the way that you think about it. Many of us grow up with this idea that taking care of our health is all about adding more years to our life. You know the whole live longer philosophy. But there’s a plot twist. It’s not just about living longer; it’s about living better.

So, think about it. What good are those extra years if we can’t actually enjoy them? If we’re not able to do the things that we love, like traveling, playing with our grandkids, or just enjoying a walk in the park. That’s where the concept of health span comes in. It’s about enhancing the quality of our life, not just the quantity of years.

As we age, it’s not just about counting the years. It’s about making those years count. It’s about staying vibrant, active, and independent. And truthfully, independence as we age is a big deal for most of us. We all want to be able to take care of ourselves, to live on our own terms, and to keep doing the things we love for as long as possible.

So, in today’s episode, we’re going to unpack this whole health span versus lifespan concept. We’re going to look at why taking care of our health is about so much more than trying to hit that 100 year mark. It’s about ensuring that as we reach our 60s, our 70s, our 80s, and beyond, that we’re living as lively and self-reliant as we can be.

I am super excited to dive into this with you today. So, let’s get started and explore how taking care of our health now can help us live a life that’s rich in quality, independence, and joy at every age.

So, let’s start by breaking down these two terms that we’ve been throwing around. health span and Lifespan. You’ve probably heard the term Lifespan a lot. It’s pretty straightforward. It’s the length of time that a person lives. It’s the number that you see when you hear about the oldest people in the world.

You know, those ones that make it to a hundred and ten or even beyond. Lifespan is all about the years. The quantity of life. But here’s where it gets super interesting. There’s this other term called, health span. And it’s not talked about as much, but it’s so, so crucial.

health span is about the quality of those years. It’s the period of our lives that we spend in good health. Free from the chronic diseases or disabilities that can come with age. It’s about being able to live our lives to the fullest with vitality and independence.

Now, why is this distinction so important? Well, let’s think about it. Living to a ripe old age sounds great. But what if those extra years are plagued with health problems, limitations, or a lack of independence? That’s where health span comes into play.

It’s about adding life to our years, not just the years to our life. It’s ensuring that as we age, we maintain our ability to do the things that we love. Like traveling, enjoying hobbies, and spending active quality time with our family and friends.

Now, Dr. Peter Attia, in his fantastic book, ‘Outlive,’ puts it perfectly. He talks about the importance of not just surviving but thriving as we age. It’s about making those later years as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible. He emphasizes how our lifestyle choices today can significantly impact the quality of our later years.

So, it’s not just about avoiding death. It’s about embracing life. It’s about making sure that as we get older, we’re not just alive, but we’re well physically, mentally, and emotionally.

This concept changes the entire game. It shifts our focus from a passive approach to aging to an active one. One where we’re constantly working towards maintaining our health and vitality. One where we have optimal health at any age.

In essence, we’re talking about a life where we can keep up with our grandkids, travel the world without being held back by physical limitations, and enjoy our retirement years actively and independently. We’re talking about a life where our later years are as vibrant and as fulfilling as our younger ones.

And the best part about it is that it’s entirely achievable. With the right set of health habits and choices, we can all work towards a long and fulfilling health span. It’s never too late to start, and every little step counts.

So, let’s dive a little bit deeper into what it really means to age with independence and vitality. This isn’t just about avoiding health problems, it’s about actively pursuing a life full of zest, energy, and autonomy, especially as we age.

So, first off, think about the physical activities that bring joy to our lives. Whether it’s traveling to new places, playing in the park with your grandkids, or just enjoying a long walk on a sunny afternoon. These are the moments that make life worth living.

But here’s the catch. Enjoying these activities fully requires a certain level of physicality. A kind of fitness that allows us to be active and engaged.

Now, let me share a story about one of my clients. Her name is Sarah. Sarah has always dreamed of exploring Europe after retirement. She imagined walking through the streets of Paris, hiking in the Swiss Alps, and enjoying the sunsets in Greece.

But as she approached retirement, Sarah realized that her physical health might not allow her to enjoy these experiences to the fullest. That’s when she decided to make a change. She started focusing on her physical fitness, gradually building up her strength and stamina.

Fast forward to today, and Sarah is living her dream. She’s traveling, she’s exploring, and she’s experiencing life in a way that she’s never thought was possible in her 60s.

Another client, Katie, had a very different but equally impactful experience. Katie’s motivation were her grandchildren. She wanted to be the grandmother who could play soccer with them, take them on bike rides, and be part of their active lives. And she did just that.

By prioritizing her physical health, Katie became an integral part of her grandchildren’s lives. Sharing their adventures and creating unforgettable memories. These stories aren’t just heartwarming, they’re powerful reminders of what we stand to gain by staying physically active as we age.

It’s about being able to say yes to new adventures, to play, to explore, and to experience joy with the ones that we love.

Contrast this with what I often refer to as the waiting to die approach. I know, it’s a harsh term. But it starkly contrasts the vibrant lives of Sarah and Katie with this other approach.

This approach is about passively accepting the limitations that age might bring. Resigning to a life of inactivity and dependency. It’s about watching life from the sidelines instead of being an active participant.

But here’s the good news. The choice is yours to make. We can choose to be like Sarah and Katie, actively working towards a life of independence and vitality, or we can take the back seat, letting life pass us by. And trust me, the former is not just possible, it is achievable with the right mindset and the right habits.

The beauty of focusing on our health span is that it empowers us to take control of our aging process. It’s about making conscious choices every single day that contribute to our long term well-being. It’s about understanding that every step we take towards maintaining our physical health today is a step towards a more vibrant, independent, and fulfilling tomorrow.

As we continue our conversation about aging with independence let’s not overlook a crucial aspect of this journey. The financial health benefits of maintaining good habits. It’s not just about feeling great, of course that’s a fantastic benefit. But it’s about the practical, tangible benefits that come with a healthy lifestyle.

First, let’s talk about medications. It’s no secret that as we age, the likelihood of needing medications for various health issues increases. But here’s an interesting twist. By adopting healthy habits now, we can significantly reduce our dependency on medications later in life. This isn’t just good for our bodies, it’s good for our wallets, too.

You see, medications can be super expensive. Not just in terms of the cost of the drugs themselves, but also in terms of the associated health care costs. Regular doctor visits, tests, potential side effects, it all adds up.

By focusing on preventative health measures like regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management, we can decrease the chances of developing chronic conditions that require ongoing medication.

In a previous episode, I talked about the return on investment of investing in our health. And you can find that episode link in the show notes. It’s titled, ‘How Coaching Can Pay for Itself.’ It’s fascinating when you start to crunch the numbers.

Investing in a gym membership, healthy food, or even health coaching might seem like an expense now but compared to the long-term cost of managing chronic diseases, it’s a bargain. It’s an investment in your future.

Think of it like this. Every dollar that you put towards your health today is a dollar saved in health care costs down the line. It’s about investing in your future self. A self who’s not just healthier, but also financially more secure.

This is especially important as we think about retirement. The less we have to spend on managing health issues, the more that we can enjoy our retirement funds going to do the things that we love. But the benefits of good habits extend beyond the financial. It’s also about the quality of life.

Preventative health measures can help us maintain our mobility, mental sharpness, and overall well-being. It’s about the joy of being able to engage in activities that we love, the satisfaction of keeping up with our grandkids and kids, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’re taking care of ourselves.

And let’s not forget about the ripple effects. When we’re healthy, we are more productive, we’re more active. And we’re more present in our relationships. We become role models for our families, showing them that aging can be a vibrant, active, and fulfilling process.

Good habits are a win-win. They improve our quality of life and save us money in the long run. By focusing on the preventative measures and investing in our health today, we’re setting ourselves up for a brighter, healthier, and more financially secure future.

As we navigate through our discussion of health span versus lifespan, let’s take a moment to consider real life examples that many of us can relate to. I want you to think about the people in your life.

Perhaps a family member, a friend, or even a neighbor. Chances are, you know somebody who exemplifies the essence of aging well. And someone who unfortunately, represents the opposite end of that spectrum.

So, let’s start with the positive. Picture someone you know who’s aging like fine wine. They might be in their 60s, 70s, or even older, but they have this incredible zest for life. They’re active, they’re engaged, they’re traveling, maybe they’re involved in community activities, learning new skills, or just enjoying every day to its fullest.

What’s their secret? It’s likely a combination of factors. A balanced diet, regular physical activity, mental stimulation, a positive outlook on life, and probably a strong social circle.

These individuals did not just stumble upon this state of well-being. It’s the result of proactive health management, of making deliberate choices throughout their life that prioritize their health and happiness.

Now, on the other end of the spectrum, think about someone who’s struggling with the challenges of aging. Perhaps it’s someone who’s dealing with chronic health issues, limited mobility, or even social isolation. It’s heartbreaking to see, and it’s a stark reminder of how our lifestyle choices can profoundly impact our later life stages.

This isn’t about blame or shame. It’s about recognizing that some of these challenges could have been mitigated or even prevented with different health choices earlier in life. The difference between these two scenarios is striking, and it boils down to how we manage our health throughout our lives. It’s about being proactive rather than reactive. It’s about understanding that the choices that we make today, what we eat, how much we move, how we handle stress. All of these play a crucial role in determining how we age.

But here’s the really good news. It’s never too late to start. Whether you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, or even later. Every positive change you make today can contribute to a better world healthier future. It’s about small, consistent steps that add up over time. It’s about building habits that not only add years to your life, but life to your years. And let’s not forget the role of mindset in all of this.

Our attitude towards aging can make a huge difference. Embracing age with positivity, seeing it as an opportunity for continued growth and learning can be an incredibly powerful experience. It’s about flipping the script on aging, viewing it not as a decline, but as a new chapter full of possibilities.

In essence, the way that we age is a reflection of the way that we live. By choosing a lifestyle that supports our physical, mental, and emotional health, we’re not just improving our chances of a longer life. We’re ensuring that those extra years are filled with joy, vitality, and independence.

So, as I wrap up today’s conversation on the importance of health span over lifespan, I want to leave you with something to think about. This journey towards a healthier, more vibrant future, it’s not just a dream. It’s a very achievable reality. And sometimes the best way to embark on this journey is with a little guidance and support. That’s where health coaching comes in.

I want to invite you, yes, you, to seriously consider the role that coaching could play in your life. Think of a health coach as your personal guide, your cheerleader, and your accountability partner all rolled into one. Someone who’s there to help you set realistic goals, overcome obstacles, and make those small, consistent changes that lead to big results.

In coaching, we work together to create a personalized plan that fits your unique life. It’s not about a one size fits all solution. It’s about what works for you. Whether it’s finding the right physical activity you enjoy, navigating nutritional choices, or managing stress. We tackle it all step by step. And we approach it from a physical, mental, and emotional standpoint.

This is holistic healthcare. And the benefits, they’re immense. From improved physical activity to better mental well-being, increased energy levels. And most importantly, a newfound sense of empowerment over your own life.

If you’re curious about how these coaching sessions unfold, I’ve got you covered. Check out episode number 131 of the Done With Dieting podcast, the episode titled, “From Start to Success: The Coaching Process.” it’s an eye opener to what’s possible when you have the right support in your corner.

So, if you’re ready to take control of your health and write a new chapter in your life, one filled with vitality and independence, I am here for you. Reach out, let’s chat, and let’s start this journey together.  

Today, we’ve journeyed through the crucial concepts of health span and lifespan, uncovering the profound importance of not just living longer, but living better. We’ve shared stories of vibrant aging, the financial and health benefits of good habits, and the contrasting paths we can take as we get older.

I hope this episode has sparked some thoughts and maybe even ignited a desire for change. Remember, it’s never too late to start making choices that lead to a healthier, happier you. Your future self will thank you for the steps that you take today.

Thank you so much for tuning in and sharing your time with me. Your engagement and interest mean the world to me. So, keep listening, keep striving for your best health, and remember, I’m always here to chat, support, and guide you on this journey.

That’s all I have for you today. Take care and embrace the joy of healthy living. Bye-bye.

Thank you for tuning into today’s episode. If what we’ve discussed resonates with you and you’re eager to take your health journey further, I invite you to schedule a one-on-one call with me. It’s an opportunity for us to dive deep into your health goals, explore your unique challenges, and discuss what you’ve tried before.

To book your slot, simply click the link in the show notes. Once you do, you’ll answer a few thought-provoking questions to get us started. Then, all you need to do is show up, and we’ll take it from there.

Let’s make your health journey a priority together. See you on the call!

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