People globally are living longer than ever. And Hong Kong has the highest average life expectancy in the world.
The average person in my home city can expect to live to around 85 – and that’s at birth. It won’t be long before most people are living well into their 100s.
You’ve made it this far, in other words, and you can expect to go a lot further.
But what quality of life will we enjoy in those years?
We all know performance peaks in our early 20s.
Muscles begin to atrophy from the age of 30.
But life really does now begin at 50, at least the second half of it.
Through early attention to how we love, feed and treat our bodies, we can maximize that long lifespan. We can ensure that the rest that we have of our lives – and I hope it’s a lot – is time well spent.
We can take back life.
It’s not just in Hong Kong, where women live on average 87.3 years and men 81.2 years, that people are living longer than ever.
Japan is famous for its long lives. Until the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant and the tsunami it produced, Japanese women led the world in lifespan. They’re still right up there. Japanese women live 87.1 years, and men 80.1 years long.
Don’t forget, we are talking averages here. Actuarial tables take into account infant mortality, hereditary diseases, car crashes, accidents and painfully short lives. You’ve dodged those bullets, hopefully not literally, meaning the averages are stacked even more in your favor. You’ve got a lot more life to live.
Icelandic and Swiss men rank right up there in terms of life length as well (both with a lifespan of 81 years). For women, the next-luckiest are Spanish women (85.42 years) and French femmes (85.40 years).
A generation or two ago, you started hitting middle age in your 30s. By your 40s, you were getting on. In your 50s, you were old. By 65, you were retired and (whisper it) on your way to the grave.
Compare that to now.
In Japan, one-quarter of the men and almost one-third of the women are now over 65. There are 2 million people over the age of 90.
Not surprisingly, many of them don’t “feel old.” In an online survey by Rakuten, Japan’s equivalent of Amazon.com, 72% of people aged 65 to 69 do not consider themselves “elderly.”
I agree. People today are running Ironman races in their 50s. I regularly encounter players in their 60s in my tennis league who are covering the court like a 30-year-old. I’ve been scuba diving with a 73-year-old Dutch man who was fitter than me. I thought “I want to be like that when I’m his age.”
The good news is that you are probably already taking steps to make the most of your life. It is through the wise choices you are making now that you will enjoy a long, healthy, happy lifestyle. You’ll be running races with your grandkids, and inspiring young scuba divers to “be like you.”
This does not require a huge effort. Just 15 minutes here and there, a regular regimen of eating well and treating our bodies right, will make a vast difference in the long run. Life is now a long run – not a sprint.
Run it well. Start now.
We don’t get a second chance at our lives. But we do get to start afresh, every single moment.