"If I'd known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."
That's an old gag repeated by Dick Van Dyke (who’s still dancing at 94), composer Eubie Blake (he lived to be 96), and Mae West (she lived to be 87).
Clearly, they understood how important good health (and a sense of humor) is as you grow older.
Unfortunately, that joyous combo of old age and vitality eludes many Americas.
Although the average U.S. life expectancy is inching up (from 78.6 in 2017 to 78.7 in 2018), according to the American Heart Association, the average American only stays healthy until 66.
That means for millions of people there's a 12.6-year gap between their healthspan and their lifespan.
That gap is fueled by the fact that many people are living longer with chronic diseases associated with obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. However, in Minnesota the healthspan is 70.3 years (about four years above average). So there's hope.
The keys to a longer healthspan are your genetics, habits, environment, race, and economic status. Fortunately, you have a lot of control over your habits, and the older you are, the more your lifestyle choices matter.
You can stay healthy longer by exercising 150 minutes a week, practicing stress management such as daily meditation), sleeping seven to eight hours nightly, and eating healthy by ditching highly processed foods and red meats.