May 6, 2020
Hello everyone! I’m here with the incredible Dr. Elaine O’Brien, who is a world-leading expert in the area of positive psychology and movement
She has taught me so much about the importance of exercise, moving your body and some of the science behind that. But one of the things that Elaine has introduced to me is this idea of not focusing so much on your lifespan, which of course is important, we want to live longer, but your healthspan.
What is healthspan and why is it important?
We all want to live long but we all want to live long and well so, healthspan is the number of years that you’re living well; without disability or without chronic illness. It’s really important that we do things that can increase the quality of our life through our whole lifespan.
If you’re just lying there with no quality of life for a number of years at the end of your life, then what is the point of living longer if you’re going to be suffering for so many years. Knowing how to increase our healthspan is so important. But there are certain things we can do to help improve our healthspan along with the quality of our life.
Things that we can do include eating well; eating clean, eating light, eating fresh foods, and trying to be mindful about the eating that we do – to celebrate eating, but also to feel it’s nurturing our bodies. Next time you sit down to eat, ask yourself, “How is this meal going to be nutritious for my body? How does it help me improve my healthspan?”
Harnessing your stress is key to increasing your healthspan. Managing the distress in your life looks different for everyone. There are two types of stress; good stress, called ‘eustress’ and the bad stress, called distress. Check out one of my previous posts on how to manage stress during these unprecedented times.
Bring the joy
Having kindness in your life is another excellent way to increase your healthspan. Compassion gives you a greater appreciation for your life to center yourself a little bit, and to look out and think of what I can do in my life to bring me and others more joy is uplifting and a positive legacy.
Move your body
And of course one of the greatest things you could do is to move your body. Work on creating a positive movement mindset. We all have histories around movement, these scripts from the past. We need to rise up above and celebrate our bodies and our movements.
Aerobic movement is the key to fitness because it helps to reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases as well as cognitive diseases – i.e. cancer, heart disease, diabetes, pulmonary lung disease, alzheimer’s, and dementia. These types of conditions impact our healthspan. They reduce the quality of our health, especially in later years.
If you’re thinking about including some sort of aerobic exercise into your routine, it can be anything that gets your heart rate elevated and moves more than one muscle group; running, swimming, dancing and hiking are all great aerobic exercises.
Thank you to Dr. Elaine O’Brien for sharing her knowledge and these wonderful strategies to increase our healthspans.