Extending Your Life: Can Technology Help You Live Longer?
In global terms, the average UK citizen has a fairly good life-expectancy. According to results generated by i09.com in 2012, males are expected to live to around 78.05 years, whilst women are expected to survive to an average age of 81.05 years.
This ranks the UK as 30th most long-lived nation in the world, out of a total of 222 countries, which seems like a good result. However, this doesn’t stop most people wishing they knew the secret of prolonging their lives even further!
Is Technology the New ‘Fountain of Youth’?
The advancement of technological fitness gadgets in recent years has been nothing short of meteoric. We now have devices to monitor our heart-rate, measure how well we’re sleeping, keep us fit, lower our stress and even control our weight. There seems little that technology cannot help with; and it’s little wonder that more and more people are turning to their smartphones and investing in wearable devices in a bid to improve their health.
Certainly, staying fit and healthy can boost your lifespan. Indeed, the NHS recommends that those over the age of 65 should engage in at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, and 2 weekly sessions of muscle-strengthening activities.
Devices such as wearable fitness bands and fitness monitoring apps can help you to stay on track with your fitness regime, enabling you to monitor your progression, record your results and stay focused on keeping fit.
Can it Really Increase Life Expectancy?
Of course, although these devices are all impressive when it comes to promoting fitness, they don’t actually provide any guarantee that you’ll live longer. Indeed, as Ursula M. Staudinger, a lifespan psychologist and researcher from the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Centre in New York states: ‘Technology that supports healthy lifestyles can improve the quality of aging. But it’s not yet proven that it expands your life.’
In short, technology can be used effectively to motivate a healthier lifestyle and to encourage fitness; but it’s important to note that it will not get results on its own. To notice any benefits, the user needs to adopt the appropriate changes to their lifestyle.
Dr Walter M. Bortz, a renowned longevity expert and professor of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, adds: ‘Wearing 10 monitors on your body isn’t going to do a thing unless you change your behaviour.’
Living Longer… or Living Better?
Staudinger emphasises that people should be less focused on extending life-span, and more dedicated to improving the quality of their lives instead. She adds that this is where technology really can help. For example, health-monitoring devices can help people to avoid sickness, which ‘would be major in terms of costs to society and the quality of life of individuals and their families.’
Rather than focusing on making it to our hundredth birthdays, our efforts should be channelled into boosting our health, improving fitness and getting the best out of our lives.