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How Can You Optimise Your Healthspan?

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Dr Skye Scott

We have long been preoccupied with our life expectancy, but what about quality over quantity? How do we make certain that our lifespan mirrors our healthspan. Emerson said, “The first wealth is health.” No amount of beauty or money or success can replace the gift of a vital, well body. So, here is where we think you should start focusing your energies to maintain a long and healthy life.

  • Inflammation 
  • Stress & Sex Hormones
  • Exercise 
  • Sleep 
  • Meaningful Connection
Health With Heart How Can You Optimise Your Healthspan
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Our stress hormones & our sex hormones are inextricably linked. When we talk about stress, everyone has this idea of an abstract, intangible thing but stress is literally a biochemical signal rushing around your body causing trouble. Yes, it’s necessary in small doses for survival; but we need it to turn off once a perceived threat has receded. If your stress response is always on, your body is in a constant state of fear, anxiety, defence. So many of our bodily processes only work optimally when we are calm. We were designed to prioritise essential services when in a fight-or-flight state. Your sex hormones are also essential for mood balance, sleep, connection, libido and more. Sex hormone production will almost always be adversely affected by chronically high levels of stress hormones. We recommend:

  • 10 minutes barefoot on the lawn daily (with no phone in sight)
  • A daily mindfulness/meditation practice
  • A positive affirmation to start the day
  • Schedule time to be intimate, playful, relaxed with your partner
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol
  • Be comfortable with quiet. Put your phone away for a set time every day
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Being sedentary is probably worse than smoking. We were not designed to sit. We were designed to climb, throw, jump and move. It energises us, burns energy, invigorates our cardiovascular system, detoxifies our lymphatic system and makes endorphins to keep us happy and serene. If you do one thing this year, MOVE. Start slow and sustainable and don’t stop. We recommend:

At least 30 min of exercise that keeps you out of breath enough not to be able to have a normal chat with your exercise buddy is what is required. For some, this means mountain climbing and for others a brisk walk. At whatever pace you can, start today. Ultimately a combination of cardio and resistance is just what the doctor ordered.

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Mathew Walker sites many studies in his book linking sleep deprivation with every disease on the planet. The cognitive impairment for the 98% of people who require an average of 8 hours a night or more is significant. Concentration tests of persons who sleep 3, 4, 5 or 6 hours a night were comparable with very drunk people. What makes the sleep deprived more dangerous, is that they do not perceive their inattention.

So many of the symptoms of ADHD, a diagnosis that is exploding in the young, working population are often the consequences of not enough sleep. Tired, forgetful, poor attention, anxious? Only 1 % of the population have the Thatcher gene which requires much less sleep than the rest of us mere mortals. We recommend:

  • Go to bed and wake at a similar time daily
  • Get sunshine in the day to help set your circadian clock
  • Avoid screens at least an hour before bed or more, the blue light inhibits melatonin production
  • Keep your room cool and calm
  • If you can’t sleep, get up and do something else, spending more than 15 min of restless wakeful time in your bed is not good for sleep hygiene. Come back when you are drowsy and try again.
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This one is the most obvious. The best part of being human is the ability to share this strange, wonderful life with others. Put your phone down & pick up your children. Put your phone down & visit your mother. Put your laptop off & go on a date with your lover. Invest in these assets. They are more valuable than any other asset, perhaps even more valuable than your health. Be present enough to truly engage & connect with the people who love you. We recommend:

  • Commit to no phone time during family time
  • Spend 20 intentional one-on-one minutes with each of your children every day
  • Honour your parents & forgive them their short comings
  • Make sure your friends know you are there for them
  • Make sure you have a friend at work
  • Eat one meal a day around a table with someone you love
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