Longevity: the impact of stress and social relations

Longevity is determined by factors endogenous as well as exogenous to the individual, such as stress and social relationships. Stress may develop into serious illnesses and make us have unhealthy habits. Social relationships affect our lifestyles and the ageing process. In which other ways can stress and social relations interfere with longevity?

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The ageing process influenced by stress

Scientific evidence shows that stress affects the ageing process. As Harvard Health Publishing explains, short-term stress response can help us deal with difficult situations. However, chronic stress can lead to physical damage, increasing blood sugar and worse diabetes. It also may promote high pressure and cause insomnia.

Plus, long-term stress can make us feel anxious, worried, depressed, and frustrated. It also can increase the risk of heart disease and heartburn, contributing to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, among other health problems.

Because of the many impacts of stress, we should learn how to control and avoid its worse symptoms including blood pressure, headaches, back pain, indigestion, or heart palpitations. People who suffer from frequent or chronic stress tend to have a poor concentration, be indecisive and experience emotional symptoms like crying, irritability, or edginess. Also, stress can influence our health by making us adopt unhealthy habits like eating poorly, exercising less, drinking more, and even relying on medication.

Job stress decreasing our health

Job stress is a factor also known for disproportionately affecting the ageing process. Individuals with that endure high job stress levels have the shortest telomeres, which have a crucial role in the decay of human cells. Telomere shortening has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

On the other hand, job stress may cause job burnout too, which in turn may entail, according to Mayo Clinic, fatigue, insomnia, sadness, anger, irritability, alcohol or substance misuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and vulnerability to illnesses.

Longevity and social relations

Apart from stress, there are other determinants of longevity. One of the most important tools to a longer ageing are social relationships, including social networks, social support and social participation.

Maintaining smaller social networks, and contacting them less frequently can impair longevity. Conversely, according to Harvard Health Publishing, those who enjoy closer links with family and friends are more likely to live longer than people who are isolated and lonely. In an attempt to better understand how much social relationships affect longevity, researchers mentioned by the magazine conducted a meta-analysis showing that people who have regular contact with friends, family, and neighbors have a survival advantage comparable in magnitude with quitting smoking habits and about twice as large as exercising regularly or maintaining a normal weight.

In short, Harvard research suggests that meaningful relationships are a prescription for better emotional, mental, and physical health. Good relationships appear to protect our brains when in our 80s, sharpening memory for a longer time.

 

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Longevity: moving our body to live longer

Why physical activity has such an impact on our health? What happens to our health when we do not add workout into daily routines? What does longevity mean and how is it linked with exercise?

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The concept of Longevity

Living longer and better is an aspiration pursued by most people. Longevity corresponds exactly to that ability to add more years into our lives, as well as more health into those extra years.

In 2015, the World Health Organization introduced the concept of Healthy Ageing, the process of developing and maintaining a functional ability that promotes wellbeing in older age.

Among many of our daily habits, physical activity is one of the most important determinants of longevity due to its role in the prevention of chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia and premature death. Exercise improves our overall health, mood, and quality of life. It can also sharpen mental function, boost concentration, and help us to sleep.

Inactivity: putting our lives at risk

Nowadays, unconsciously, many of us spend most of the time seated while watching TV, checking our mobile phones and tablets, working on computers or reading. As opposed to a decades ago, people currently spend much more time inactive and motionless, especially due to the use of technology: washing machines allow us to relax and rest; cars are more affordable which means we walk less. All in all, contemporary life is much easier than in the past.

Despite such a very pleasant and comfortable scenario, the lack of exercise contributes to the emergence of many chronic conditions and increases the risk of premature death. In most developed countries, economic activity revolves around the services sector. Workplaces are mainly at offices, where we stay seated and seldom move away from the desk. Unfortunately, children are already experiencing the impact of inactivity as there are much more pretexts to play inside than outside.

Move your body: it’s never too late to start

The good news is that the benefits of physical activity accumulate across life, so we are never too old to start worrying about exercising. Harvard Health Publishing advises us to work toward reducing the amount of time we spend sitting every day. For instance, those with desk jobs are recommended to get up to walk around regularly, try chair yoga or a go for a few desk exercises. If we have been inactive for quite a while, we should walk 2 minutes every 10 to 15 minutes (during commercial breaks when watching TV or reading). And if we jog, we could add an extra level of effort to it by starting at our regular pace and then gradually increasing it.

Small adjustments in our daily routine can add up to big changes in our life. Adding physical activity into our everyday habits will allow us to increase longevity, living longer and better.

 

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The future of health at the Web Summit

Medical Port visited the tech conference that brought people from all over the world to Lisbon. The future of health was among the topics discussed at the Web Summit.

From alternative therapies to wearables, transplants and hybrid humans: a broad range of topics were discussed at the Web Summit.

The possibility of ever achieving a disease-free world was debated, but the opinion was clear: the majority of the attendees agreed it is quite utopic to ever achieve of such thing, despite the great advances of science.

Longevity was also discussed: could 125 be the new 80 in the future? Maybe, according to Gabriel Otte, who runs an enterprise working on disease prevention. Unfortunately, not all can be controlled by us, as the key seems to lie on a combination of genetics and lifestyle effects. However, Gabriel Otte recommends us to be as proactive about out general health as most people are with their teeth – checking it regularly and focusing on prevention.

Medical Port can help you keeping up your health and taking preventive steps during your stay in Portugal. Contact us for more information!

 

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