What impacts lifespan? While many wonder about the best way to put our days, minutes, and seconds to the best use for ourselves and our loved ones, the factors that impact lifespan can be challenging to track.
Each year contains
- 365 days
- 8,760 hours
- 525,600 minutes
- 31,536,000 seconds
Depending on where you were born, genetic health challenges, and life experiences, you could enjoy as many seconds as Kane Takana.
As of her death in April 2022, she had lived more than 119 years.
According to CDC.gov, life expectancy in the USA for 2021 is 76.1 years. This is down from 77 years the previous year. 76.1 years equals:
- 27,776.5 days
- 666,636 hours
- 39,998,160 minutes
- 2,399,889,600 seconds
The life expectancy for females in the USA for 2021 is 79.1 years and for males, it is 73.2 years.
Your Place of Birth Matters
The shortest lives and earliest deaths are suffered by those born in sub-Saharan Africa. In this region, 10% of children born do not survive to their 5th birthday.
Factors that shorten the lives of these children include
- dirty water
- poor maternal health
Diseases that strongly impact children in this region include simple viral infections that attack a poorly developed immune system, leading to dehydration and pneumonia.
Malaria is also a great risk in this part of the world and is especially dangerous for children under 5.
However, it’s important to note that many governmental agencies and private charities are making great progress against the disease by distributing insecticidal nets for home use.
A child who lives 5 years has experienced only
- 1,825 days
- 43,800 hours
- 2,628,000 minutes
- 157,680,000 seconds
The South American nation of Bolivia is a case study of what constant poverty does to expected lifespans.
While Argentina and Venezuela offer an expected lifespan between 70 and 75 years, the citizens of the nation of Bolivia who make it to 64 will be among the oldest citizens of this country. Why?
Poverty is rife in Bolivia, though the situation is slowly improving. Education rates are low and women can expect to be paid half of what men earn. Early marriage puts a burden on young women.
As of 2009, nearly 20% of women married and had children before they turned 18. An 18-year-old girl with children to care for has few chances to expand her income, increase her earnings or provide a better life for her children.
An 18-year-old mother has enjoyed only
- 6,570 days
- 157,680 hours
- 946,080 minutes
- 56,764,800 seconds
to learn, grow, enjoy her own childhood and prepare for adulthood. For many of these very young women, the phrase “poverty charges interest” cannot be more strongly demonstrated.
Because women are both the first teachers of their children and the family members who hold onto traditions, women who have been denied an education will be unable to help their own children advance.
The children of Bolivia, both boys and girls, are also often pulled out of school to be put to work to support their families.
Malnutrition and lack of access to clean drinking water impact many families in the region; if the older children do not work, often the younger children cannot eat.
As of 2016, better than 13% of the children of Bolivia between 7 and 13 years old were working, and not attending school.
A 7-year-old who is put to work as a laborer has enjoyed only
- 2,555 days
- 61,320 hours
- 3,679,200 minutes
- 220,752,000 seconds of childhood
It is unlikely that a child who is put to work will be allowed to return to school. If they are, catching up may be impossible
There is no confirmed longevity diet, but it is interesting that pockets of people who maintain similar dietary practices tend to live longer.
For example, the Blue Zones, or areas of the world in which centenarians are concentrated, have some interesting connections.
In Loma Linda, California, there is a group of 7th Day Adventists who share both a similar diet and a rich community life. Some eat a bit of fish, but many are vegetarians.
While they shun alcohol and tobacco, it’s interesting to note that they also vehemently shun processed sugars. Loma Linda is the only Blue Zone in the United States.
Within the Blue Zone communities, there is also a strong sense of connection around meals and food in general.
The largest meal of the day is eaten around noon and is shared with extended family and friends. A bit of wine may be consumed, such as in Sardinia, Italy, and Ikaria, Greece, but other groups forbid the consumption of alcohol entirely.
Recent longevity studies indicate that loneliness can have as large an impact on your longevity as obesity. If you are dining healthily but dining alone, you may be harming your body.
For those in the blue zones, however, hitting your 100th birthday means that you will experience
- 36,500 days
- 876,000 hours
- 52,560,000 minutes
- 3,153,600,000 seconds
Humans are tribal creatures; we are mentally wired to bond with one another. A lack of such bonding can lead to inflammation of the body and harm to the brain.
Of course, there are many factors that can impact the longevity of any individual. Factors such as general happiness will impact both the length and quality of your life.
However, indications are that being born into a region that gives you the opportunity to thrive and a community of support can do a great deal to offer you a long, healthy life.