We all know our chronological – or actual – age, but doctors often refer to biological or “phenotypic” age, which measures biological factors like metabolism, inflammation and organ function. New research reveals that biological aging can be slowed down significantly when people follow the eight healthy behaviors recommended by the American Heart Association, known as “Life’s Essential 8.”
Researchers from Columbia University studied data from more than 65-hundred adults and found having the highest Life’s Essential 8 score (the best cardiovascular health) is associated with having a biological age that’s six years younger, on average, than the person’s actual age. The Essential 8 are:
- Eat better – Follow a diet with a variety of fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy protein sources (mostly plants and seafood), minimally processed foods, cut back on salt and alcohol and avoid added sugars.
- Be more active – Try to get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week and two days a week of muscle strengthening exercise, like weight lifting or resistance training.
- Quit tobacco – Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the U.S.
- Get a healthy amount of sleep – Aim for seven to nine hours a night.
- Manage your weight – Try to maintain a normal weight, which is defined as a body mass index between 18.5 and 25.
- Control cholesterol levels – For most adults, an LDL (or “bad cholesterol) level of less than 100 is recommended. For those at high risk, including those who’ve had a heart attack or stroke, or who have genetic forms of high cholesterol, an LDL level of less than 70 is recommended.
- Manage blood sugar – The healthy range for fasting blood sugar is less than 100-milligrams per deciliter.
- Manage blood pressure – A systolic blood pressure of less than 120 and a diastolic pressure of less than 80 is considered healthiest.
Source: American Heart Association