Newswise — ROCHESTER, Minn. — With the New Year approaching, many people include physical fitness goals and enhanced well-being as part of their resolutions. Now, researchers are finding that these improvements also can lead to an increase in longevity.

In an upcoming article published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Robert Pignolo, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic chair of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, reviews current literature to determine factors of longevity and what steps people can take to live healthier lives.

While genetics play a large part in determining human life span, research has found that environmental influences can have an even greater impact. A review of studies on longevity suggests that only 25 percent of aging can be traced back to a person’s genes. “This finding strongly suggests that behavior, environment and health practices can profoundly affect the potential for long life,” says Dr. Pignolo.

In observing lifestyle conditions of centenarians across the globe, common factors were noted in especially long-lived individuals. These included eating in moderation, routine physical exercise, a sense of purpose and an established social network. Those who live long lives also abstained from smoking and excessive alcohol, and maintained lifestyles that promoted independence.

Gender also plays a significant role in aging. Within the U.S., women tend to live longer than men. Despite this, men are inclined to have greater functional status compared to women, suggesting the need for preventive health measures in females as they grow older.

While there are many factors that play into longevity, there are some steps to take that can help people appreciate an improved quality of life. Dr. Pignolo notes that watching your caloric intake, eating a plant-based diet, maintaining an ideal weight, and engaging with family and friends are all behaviors that are of potential value. By taking steps to increase your health this year, you can improve your chances of not only living a longer life, but also a healthier one.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Pignolo, contact Emily Blahnik, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005 or [email protected].


About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, comprehensive care to everyone who needs healing. Learn more about Mayo Clinic. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network.