In the beginning there is so much potential. From then on the choices we make every day can have a big impact on how long we live. To help people realize their longevity potential, Dr. Thomas Perls, an expert on aging, developed the life expectancy health span calculator. Dr. Perls says, "It's really an enabling tool to alert you to things that really can make a difference, in adding quite a few healthy years to your life." A good score on the test is 88 and above.
To get an idea of how different people might do on the test we asked Maria Johns, the Wellness Director at the Bethesda YMCA, and Tennis Director Tony Symzick to give it a try. The test is based on the premise that the average person can live into their mid-eighties. You add or subtract years based on a variety of factors. Dr.Perls says, "If you smoke you take 15 years off. If you are very overweight, maybe you take 10 years off for that."
Exercise is important for staying healthy, but Dr.Perls says it won't do much to extend your life expectancy. It does help if longevity runs in your family and if you're intellectually active. Dr. Perls, says, "If you exercise your brain a lot, where you're trying new things, maybe you get to add a few years."
The test is broken down into five sections ranging from family history to lifestyle habits. There are dozens of questions on everything from what's your cholesterol level, to how often do you floss your teeth. Dr. Perls says, "It requires a fairly honest look at what your daily habits are."
Johns scored a 90 years point six. She says, "I'm very excited about that." Even though he's an active guy, according to the quiz, Symzick's life expectancy is 77. Symzick says, "The big thing I think was the diet. Sleep, I could probably get more sleep. I don't get consistent sleep. I get enough sleep, just not great sleep all the way through." But maybe more important than the score is the information you get when your life expectancy is calculated. Symzick says, "They give you suggestions. They give you hints to help you increase your longevity. I'm gonna see if I can work on those."
To take the test yourself, click here.