exercise longevity mindset nutrition recovery

LifeSpan or HealthSpan – Do You Know The Difference?

In a few weeks, I’ll be part of a panel discussion on Healthy Aging through the Tiny Habits Academy.

In preparation, I got to thinking about lifespan, healthspan and resiliency in relation to aging.

Since 1900, global life expectancy has more than doubled. Many things have led to this change. It’s not only medical advances like vaccinations and antibiotics, but it’s also improved public sanitation and access to healthcare.

Before a dive into practical specifics, it’s important to distinguish between lifespan and health span.


Lifespan is the length of a life counted in years from birth until death.

Healthspan is the number of years you will live FREE of chronic disease and disability.

Some might attribute healthspan solely due to inherited genes, but there are things that can offset heredity.


It’s genetics – plus exposure – that account for health span. This means a person may have a genetic predisposition towards a disease, but environmental factors and lifestyle are potential triggers that activate or thwart disease progress.

In fact, studies of identical twins show that heredity is not the primary cause of most chronic diseases. (https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/05/twin-epigenetics/560189/)

I’m not going to dive too deep into genetics and epigenetics here. If you do have your genetic data, it can be worth gaining more information about what you can do to work with your unique biology and I can point you in a helpful direction.

Enhancing HealthSpan

Below are some of the key things you might consider keeping or adding to enhance your Healthspan – which may also impact your lifespan!

1. Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in exercise 4-6 days a week and other activities has been consistently linked to healthy aging. Aim for a combination of aerobic exercises (brisk walking, running, biking, dancing, swimming…) in combination with strength training activities 2-3 times a week. If you don’t know what to do in terms of exercise and programming, consider hiring a trainer to help you set a plan into place.

2. Balanced Nutrition: A well-balanced diet is crucial for healthy aging. Focus on consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit processed foods, sugary snacks, alcohol and foods to which you are sensitive. Adequate hydration is also important, so drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you are clueless on where to begin, start small. Maybe a first step is to log your food to get an account of exactly what you are consuming on a daily basis. A good nutritionist can help you establish healthy steps forward.

3. Mental Stimulation: Keep the mind active and engaged. Try activities that challenge your brain, such as reading, puzzles, learning new skills, playing musical instruments, or engaging in intellectually stimulating endeavors. I have been using BrainHQ for many months now and notice a marked difference in memory and recall. Social interactions and strong social connections also contribute to enhanced health.

4. Quality Sleep: Prioritize good sleep habits and aim for 20% of your sleep being deep sleep. For most adult, 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night is key. Set a regular sleep schedule, create a comfortable sleep environment, and stick to it. There are many ways to get your sleep data through sleep tracking devices like the Oura, fitbit, and non-wearables from companies like EightSleep and Withings Sleep.

5. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can have negative effects on health. Engage in stress reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or mindfulness practices. Regular exercise and maintaining a supportive social network can also help manage stress. In some instances, due to chronic levels of stress, you may not even be aware of the stress you carry. Consider a coach to help you identify your current state and help you find a way to manage stress in a productive fashion.

6. Schedule Health Check-ups: Regular visits with healthcare professionals for preventive screenings and general health assessments allows for early detection and management of potential health issues. What you don’t know, you can’t change.

7. Avoid Harmful Habits: Minimize or eliminate habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and substance abuse. These behaviors can have detrimental effects on your health and accelerate the aging process.

8. Positive Outlook: A positive attitude, a sense of purpose, and engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment all contribute to healthy aging. Cultivating a positive mindset and practicing gratitude in the form of a gratitude journal, or perhaps a shared moment with a partner, can have a significant impact on overall well-being.

And of course there are many other things you might do to enhance health and life span which are not covered here.

I’d love to hear what your list includes!


I work with mid-life men and women who want to feel younger through improving their relationship to food, movement and mindfulness.

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