December 2022

According to data released in September 2021 by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) life expectancy may be going into reverse. Some experts have put this down to the impact of Covid, time will tell. Measuring data in such short timescales should come with caveats, lots of them, a fact that everyone became aware of during the pandemic.

If we look more closely at the data the increases in life expectancy began slowing a decade ago. Whilst I have no evidence to support this, I am confident we will learn the primary cause of the slowing increase in life expectancy is down to poor lifestyle choices. I am also confident we will find two distinct groups begin to appear, those for whom life expectancy continues to increase and those going into reverse.

Some people will automatically claim this divergence is due to wealth, the reason being that a healthier lifestyle is easier with a higher income. This is way to simplistic, as we learned during lockdown there are many ways to gain and maintain physical health that are much less expensive than a gym membership. Access to nutritious and affordable food will be the next reason put forward, again this is simply not the case as anyone who has paid attention to various cookery lessons on the BBC and elsewhere over recent years will have noticed it is perfectly possible to buy good food for less than a ready meal full of sugar and salt.

Clearly having more money helps with a lot of things in our world. But study after study has found that a sensible diet, regular exercise and the right mindset will have the biggest impact on your life expectancy and more importantly your health span. The people of Sardinia can hardly be described as wealthy in a cash sense, they are however very wealthy in life.

Staggering sums of money are being invested in understanding ageing, how to slow it and if the results from Dr David Sinclair’s laboratory at Harvard are anything to go by, reverse ageing. Clearly a pill to affect this will not be with us tomorrow but knowledge is increasing almost exponentially so one day it might be possible to take a pill to better health. In the meantime the best evidence to support longevity and health in later life is through exercise.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that for some people retirement accelerates their decline. We also know that pension provision for the majority of the population is inadequate, and state supported benefits cannot be maintained at current levels. Perhaps state retirement ages need to increase and you may not like this, but increase a lot.

The age at which state pensions become due should probably be 70 years of age now and move beyond this soon, a lot of people will be dismayed by this notion and yet for me I think the news is good. Why could this be good?

One of the predominant problems with retirement is how we view it, after decades of conditioning we have come to believe retirement is the beginning of the end. We even say it to ourselves and each other, perhaps not exactly in that fashion but it is common for folk to say something like “a young persons game” or “I am to old for that”. Over time we come to believe it. What if we thought differently? I am not suggesting that just thinking more positively about the future will bring about a miraculous change for you, but by seeing your

life as one of continued possibility and opportunity when combined with good lifestyle habits it can help dramatically improve the quality of your life