Humans were not meant to live forever, but average lifespan has increased dramatically in the developed world over the past 100 years or so. Advances in technology, healthcare and education all contribute.
Living longer sounds good, but there’s a difference between quality of life and quantity of life. Ideally, the added years you’re living should be enjoyable. If you have poor health, it can be difficult to enjoy a longer lifespan.
The fact that all people age is very obvious. However, the mechanism of aging isn’t clear. A study published in Exercise and Sports Science Reviews explains that there are over 300 theories that attempt to explain aging.
One theory that the study proposes takes into account two causes of aging: primary and secondary. The primary causes of aging are intrinsic to the body. According to the theory, organisms that output high amounts of energy tend to have shorter lives.
In other words, if you have a very high metabolism, your lifespan can be shorter. The secondary causes of aging include things like your environment and any damage your body might sustain from diseases or health problems.
This is just a theory and not a proven fact, but it has interesting implications. According to the authors of the study, calorie restriction is the most effective way to slow aging and improve quality of life (assuming their theory is correct).
That’s because eating less lowers your metabolism. The argument is that people in developed countries tend to eat more than they need, which leads to health problems associated with aging.
In the study, the scientists compared eating less with exercising to see which one slowed the effects of aging. They found that each had positive and negative effects and were appropriate for different people, but overall calorie restriction was more effective.
People who already don’t eat much won’t benefit from calorie restriction, but exercise can be helpful. As you age, muscle mass tends to decrease. Maintaining your muscle mass with resistance training is important for healthy aging and maintaining a high quality of life.
Those who tend to be overweight, as opposed to underweight, could see more benefit from calorie restriction than diet. Of course, using both calorie restriction and exercise to age well and maintain your quality of life is ideal.