In 1900, the remaining life expectancy for a thirty-year old male in the United States was 35 years. Thanks to advances in medicine, that number is now nearing fifty. [1] A solid 15-year increase in lifespan isn't bad at all - actually, I find it pretty impressive. A longer lifespan might mean prolonged disease and disability for many, but at least it opens the possibility for many additional active years too. If one plays his cards right and has a bit of luck, it's not unreasonable to expect to become a healthy centenarian. I'm not planning to pass up that chance.

And the upward trend in life expectancy is continuing. Looking at the chart, the lines start to rise slightly faster after the 1970s, thanks to more advanced drugs, improved public healthcare and new technology like MRI. That means we're conquering old age faster and faster. Right now, the outlook for the start of a new rise is better than ever. Stem cell treatments, advanced artificial organs and prostheses, genomics, robotic surgery, personally tailored medication and increasingly accurate medical imaging and computing... the list of amazing medical technologies being researched just goes on and on.

These technologies have the chance to lengthen healthy life, but of course they also share one common problem: their cost. There's no time to constantly doctor everyone, and we only have a limited amount of natural resources. I bet the treatments are going to be optimized and automated, but simply relying on society and technology to fix all problems isn't responsible. Living healthily also means staying stronger, enabling work and play at 70 years and beyond. That applies whether or not new medical technologies will work as miraculously as expected. Technology is only good for you if you live long enough to see it.

Thankfully, the basic recipe for a long and healthy life seems quite simple: don't stress too much, don't eat too much, and do some light exercise as a part of the daily routine. These lifestyle tips are the common denominator of societies with many healthy centenarians, such as the Japanese island of Okinawa. My own approach is a red meat -free diet, some geocaching, running and a few pushups now and then. Sticking to principles and making exercise something fun instead of a chore goes a long way.

That leaves stress-free living, which seems to be the hardest to achieve in high-paced modern society. I don't yet have a recipe for that. Maybe digging deeper into zen philosophy will help. Either way, two out of three is a start, at least.

As a fun side note, here's a little TV clipping from 50 years ago. It might be out of style, but I think it's still surprisingly relevant considering all the technology we already have. The star Jack LaLanne was still ripped at 60, and lived to a healthy 96. If he managed it without all the fancy futuristic treatments, it would be a shame not to at least match him when all the new health-related inventions are available.

[1] http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005140.html