Longevity is a “megatrend” according to the GWI. A look at some recent longevity research developments.
Longevity has been tagged as a “megatrend” by the Global Wellness Institute. Zoe Weiner wrote in the 2024 GWS Future of Wellness Trends report:
“In 2024, calling longevity a “trend” doesn’t quite encapsulate the massive impact our collective desire to live longer, healthier lives has had on wellness. For centuries, scientists have been searching for the fountain of youth, and today, leaps and bounds in research and technology have gotten us closer than ever before to finding it. In the same way that wellness, in general, has moved from fringe spaces and health food stores to the mainstream, longevity has entered the zeitgeist and given us an entirely new lens through which to approach our health—and this year, it’s coming out of the lab and into our lives.”
The true definition of “longevity,” according to Oxford Languages, is “long life,” while a synonym is “endurance.” In the context of wellness, longevity refers to the concept of extending one’s lifespan while improving quality of life – as we say, it’s not just about adding more years to life, but also adding life to those years by enhancing physical, mental, and emotional health. This approach encompasses various aspects that include preventive healthcare, nutrition, physical activity, social connections, sleep, lifestyle choice, and environmental factors.
“Even without longevity interventions, people around the world are living longer,” states the report. “But though lifespan has increased, aging is still the number one risk factor for fatal diseases.”
And, so, now that we have the technology to pursue it in ways we never have before, the search for the magical secret to life and health extension is ramping up. Research areas include:
- Senolytic drugs (drugs that selectively clear senescent cells [cells that stop dividing but do not die])
- Telomere rejuvenation therapy
- Genome sequencing
- Gene editing
- Stem cell therapy
Then there are stranger ideas, like young blood transfusions, which is the practice of transfusing an older person with the blood or plasma of a younger person with the aim of creating a health benefit – the FDA has strongly cautioned against this.
Also according to the GWI, the longevity clinic has become the fastest- growing business genre in wellness and health. “Global VC investment in longevity clinics more than doubled from 2021 to 2022— from $27 million to $57 million.”
There are reportedly “hundreds” of longevity centers around the globe. Among the more well known of these are Longevity Health and Wellness Hotel in Alvor, Portugal; Ikaria Longevity Retreat in Ikaria, Greece; Clinique la Prairie on the Swiss Riviera; and Six Senses Ibiza.
What longevity clinics do varies but they will often focus on personalized health plans based on a person’s genetic makeup and lifestyle. Programs may involve genetic testing, epigenetic analysis, and biomarker assessments. Measured factors may include inflammation markers, gut microbiome, telomere attrition, and mitochondrial health.
On top of all this, research continues into the factors that may help us live longer. Some of the more obvious ones include not smoking or drinking alcohol to excess, exercising, and eating and sleeping well. On top of that, here’s a short roundup of some of the study findings from the last few years of factors that may extend lifespan and that hotels and resorts can share with guests.
Five recent findings of longevity research
Move more than average: Research published in 2022 found that, out of 116,221 adults tracked over 30 years, those who performed two to four times more than the recommended amount of moderate physical activity (150 to 300 minutes per week) had a 26% to 31% lower all-cause mortality, a 28% to 38% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a 25% to 27% lower risk of non-cardiovascular disease mortality. Those who performed two to four times more than the recommended amount of vigorous physical activity (75 to 150 minutes each week) were found to have 21% to 23% lower risk of all-cause mortality, a 27% to 33% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, and 19% lower risk of non-cardiovascular disease mortality.
Maintain good relationships: A study by Harvard University that has spanned 85 years and is still ongoing has found that people with the strongest personal relationships are not only the happiest but also enjoy the best overall health and live longer than those without strong personal relationships. Shyam Bishen, head of the Centre for Health and Healthcare at the World Economic Forum, said “Clearly research suggests that good social relationships can have a positive impact on mental health, leading to better overall well-being, and potentially contributing to a longer life.”
Find your purpose: 2022 research assessed self-reported sense of purpose of more than 13,000 people and examined mortality risk over an eight-year period. The study found that people with the highest sense of purpose appeared to have the lowest risk of death (15.2 percent mortality risk), compared to people with the lowest sense of purpose (36.5 percent mortality risk). The results suggest that this association is slightly stronger among women.
Take up gardening: In the early 2000s, author Dan Buettner visited global communities where people are said to live longer than average, typically to 100 or older. These communities, which include Okinawa, Japan; the Barbagia region of Sardinia; Icaria, Greece; and Costa Rica. According to Buettner, are dubbed “blue zones.” Buettner was looking for common factors among residents that may account for their longer life spans. They found that people ate plant-based or mediterranean diets and had strong social support groups, among other things. They also found that residents tend to garden well into old age. Some of the reasons gardeners may live longer is spending time outside, getting moderate physical activity, absorbing vitamin D, and healthy eating.
Keep on the sunny side of life: 2019 research from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), and National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System, found that individuals with greater optimism are more likely to live longer and to achieve “exceptional longevity,” living to age 85 or older. Optimism refers here to “a general expectation that good things will happen, or believing that the future will be favorable because we can control important outcomes.” Taking other lifestyle and demographic factors into account, among 69,744 women and 1,429 men were followed for 10 years (women) and 30 years (men) the researchers found that the most optimistic men and women demonstrated, on average, an 11 to 15 percent longer lifespan, and had 50-70 percent greater odds of reaching 85 years old compared to the least optimistic groups.
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