If you want to live a long and healthy life you need to be active

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A new year typically brings new resolutions. While making resolutions is easy, sticking with them is not.

Exercise-related resolutions consistently make the top 10 list, but up to 80% of resolutions to be healthier, including promises to exercise more, are tossed aside by February.

You know physical activity is good for you. But, that isn’t always enough to get or keep you moving. You’re not alone.

Fewer than half of American adults are as active as they should be.

How active should you be?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week.

So, let’s think about physical activity in a different way. As a nurse who researches exercise, I can tell you that it is likely the closest thing to a fountain of youth or a magic pill that you will have in your lifetime.

Benefits to all parts of your body

Research shows that every single system in the body benefits when you are more active. You sleep better. You have more energy. You find yourself in a better mood.

You think more clearly and remember better. Your bones become stronger.

Your body also responds better to insulin, which lowers your risk of diabetes.

And you significantly reduce your risk for many cancers.

All of that is in addition to the better known weight and heart benefits of physical activity.

Bottom line: If you want to live a long and healthy life, you need to be active.

But “that’s easier said than done,” you might be saying to yourself. In fact, increasing your physical activity is probably easier than you think.

You don’t need to buy expensive equipment or join a gym. And you will begin to reap the rewards of physical activity almost as soon as you start. Adding small amounts of movement to your daily routine goes a long way.

Brisk walking, at a pace of at least a 20-minute mile, provides health benefits similar to running, and probably more social benefits.

Plus, your risk of injury is much lower. And you can walk – for free with nothing more than comfortable shoes – from almost anywhere: your neighborhood, your office, or in lieu of waiting behind the wheel of your car in the pickup line at your kid’s school.

A 22-minute walk every day, or two 11-minute ones, would put you just over 150 minutes every week.

It isn’t cheating to break your 150 minutes a week into small increments. In fact, even for people who are physically fit and exercise every day, breaking up periods of sitting is critically important.

Even if you are getting enough exercise, sitting for the rest of the day can undo the health benefits of your workout. If you aren’t yet ready to aim for 2.5 hours of brisk walking each week, reducing the time you spend sitting would be a great starting goal.

Setting other goals

Many experts who work with clients or patients to set goals use the acronym SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based) to guide goal-setting.

This simple method could help you achieve a goal to sit less and move more in the new year:

  • Be specific. Rather than just “sit less, move more,” include when you will start and how will you do it. Specify what actions you will take to meet your goal. For example, make a list of how you can get more steps in each day by doing specific things, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Make it measurable. Again, “less” and “more” are hard to measure. Instead, try “Walk for five minutes after every hour of sitting.” Without a way to measure your goal, it becomes hard to know when you have achieved it.
  • Make it attainable. If you currently don’t exercise at all, 150 minutes a week may not be realistic. How about three 20-minute walks per week? You can slowly increase after you achieve that first goal. And choose an activity you might enjoy. If you already know you hate running, a goal to do it every day would be less attainable.
  • Set realistic goals. Your new activity goal should work for you and fit within your lifestyle. It’s great to challenge yourself, but break up challenging goals into smaller, more realistic, goals to help keep on track.
  • Set a time by which you will meet your goal. For example, will you take a certain number of steps by noon each day? Or, will you build up to 150 minutes a week by mid-April? You’re more likely to achieve short-term goals that lead into a long-term one.

One of the best ways to keep up with your efforts is to track your progress. You can do it with pen and paper, in a journal, or in one of many smartphone apps. As you see yourself making progress, it can be easier to keep up the routine.

Expand your view of exercise

Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to go a gym to get moving. There are ways to make exercise part of your lifestyle, without too much inconvenience.

  • Get the family involved. Play tag, go on a scavenger hunt at a local park, or walk to your favorite hangout.
  • Park farther away from your workplace, the store, the library, etc.
  • Walk during your breaks at work and over your lunch period.
  • Instead of having coffee with friends, take a walk with them.
  • Whenever you are on the phone, stand up and walk around.
  • If you are at your kid’s or grandkid’s sporting event, walk the sidelines instead of sitting on the bleachers.
  • Try to find ways to make walking more meaningful. For example, try walking your own dog or a shelter dog. Dogs make great exercise companions that will never turn down an opportunity to walk.

As you undertake the big change from being inactive to becoming active, understand that setbacks happen. Don’t let one slip-up derail your whole goal.

When possible, have a backup plan to deal with barriers like weather or time constraints. And celebrate the small victories you make toward reaching longer-term goals.

Looking for more tips on how to get started? Check out this guide.


Longevity is both blessing and onus of the medical, technical, and social advances observed in most modern societies over the past century. There exist strong differences with regard to how individuals value the gains of additional years in life. In 1939, Piersol and Bortz were first to define an agenda for future gains in life expectancy, when they proclaimed that: “… it is for science to add life to years and not years to life” (p. 976).

With this often-cited statement, Piersol and Bortz identified life quality and functional health as a key scope of biomedical aging research. However, with an increasing number of people experiencing extended life spans, many also come to appreciate the potentials for positive life experiences in these added on years even when conditions are adverse.

Thus, adding life to years cannot be viewed simply as a medical issue because the quality of a prolonged life also depends on cognitive, behavioral, psychological, and social processes. There is some evidence that individuals show considerable adaptivity and resilience to aversive circumstances in all phases of life (Bonanno, 2004Brandtstädter, 1999).

Moreover, there is strong agreement in gerontology that old age reflects what Paul Baltes and collaborators (e.g., P. B. Baltes & Smith, 2003) coined as an “…incompleteness of the overall biogenetic architecture of the life course” (P. B. Baltes & Smith, 2003, p. 131), which often involves vulnerability and risks (Butler, 1975Kruse, 2017).

Accordingly, in many demographic, epidemiologic, and large-scale studies, it has been shown that extensions of life expectancy were associated with gains in both healthy years and years lived with disability, chronic health conditions, or need of care (Hay et al., 2017). In this vein, the final phase of very old age is generally considered to involve challenges, loss, and decline (P. B. Baltes & Smith, 2003Tesch-Römer & Wahl, 2017).

One implication is that the task of aging may not be restricted to maintaining health and functioning, but also includes adaptational tasks such as coping with disability and care needs (M. Baltes, Wahl, & Reichert, 1991).

In other words, aging may also involve the need to accept some kind of vulnerability. Consequently, psychological resilience to adverse life conditions may foster motivation for longevity from early adulthood until very late in life.

In this vein, a new field of research has emerged that investigates individual preferences and attitudes toward longevity and extensions of lifetime. In the following, we review and discuss previous research on longevity motivation (Lang, Baltes, & Wagner, 2007) and related concepts such as attitudes toward an extended lifetime (Cicirelli, 2011), valuation of life (Lawton et al., 1999), and will to live (Carmel, 2011).

Existing research on longevity motivation has often focused on specific phases of the life span such as late life (Carmel, 2011), young and middle adulthood (Bowen & Skirbekk, 2017) or end-of-life (Cicirelli, 2011). We are not aware of an integrative theoretical life-span approach that includes different approaches to longevity motivation in a comprehensive life-span perspective.

For example, it is not well understood whether longevity desires differ from health-related preferences in young, middle-aged, or old-aged adulthood. In what ways do individuals across adulthood differ with regard to the meaning, and the perceived value of longevity?

What are age-related determinants and consequences of varying mindsets of longevity motivation?—

We begin our considerations by giving an overview on existing research on longevity desires. Based on these findings we submit a heuristic model of longevity motivation. We conducted an exploratory pilot analysis using a cross-cultural study to illustrate some of the assumptions of this heuristic model.

We conclude this review with a discussion of future research issues that can be derived from the proposed heuristic model of longevity motivation.

Desired and Expected Longevity

In general, individuals in modern societies differ with regard to how strongly they esteem possible extensions of their personal lifetime (Cicirelli, 2011Lang et al., 2007Ekerdt, Koss, Li, Münch, Lessenich, & Fung, 2017). For example, some individuals think of lifetime extensions merely as products of biomedical advances. Consequently, a person may believe that a prolonged lifetime is only acceptable for oneself as long as one experiences autonomy or health. Other individuals may think of their personal lifetime and late life as a task that they want to accomplish regardless of whether this also involves experience of loss. There exist several studies, in which individuals reported their personal longevity motivations, based on questions such as “to what age would you like to live?.”, or “how long would you like to live?”, all of which we consider to have equivalent connotations. Especially when considered in relation to personal longevity expectations (e.g., “to what age do you expect to live?”) different mindsets become evident. For example, wanting to live as long as one expects reflects an acceptance of the finitude of one’s personal life. A desire to live much longer than one expects to live may indicate a desire to overcome actual limits of life expectancy. A wish to live less long than one expects to live may imply a negative or deprecating attitude toward aging.

Table 1 gives an overview on distributions of findings that were identified in recent empirical studies. The table combines findings from studies that used either quantitative or qualitative methods to assess longevity preferences in diverse samples from different phases of the human life course. In general, findings are heterogeneous and vary depending on the respective study design, method, age composition, and cultural backgrounds. For example, Ekerdt and colleagues (2017) interviewed 90 older adults in three different cultures. About 37% expressed no wish of “having more time in life,” either by directly expressing their desire for an end in the near future, or by referring to fate. About 48% of the respondents wished to live longer conditional on mental and physical health, and 15% expressed an unconditional wish to live longer. In the study of Karppinen and her colleagues (2016) individuals reported whether and why they would (not) “want to live to be 100?”—Out of the 1,405 older adults, one-third (32.9%) wanted to live to 100 years. Health was both a condition for wanting to reach 100 years (expressed by 45%) and a reason for not wanting to reach this age (expressed by 48%). Apart from this, 57% of the individuals wanting to reach 100 years expressed positive reasons for this such as curiosity or love for life. On the other side, 77% of the individuals not wanting to reach 100 years stated reasons expressing negative attitudes toward life in very old age. In a quantitative study based on a representative sample, Donner and colleagues (2016) assessed responses to two items: “How long do you wish to live?” and “If you could be physically and mentally the same as in your 20s, how long would like to live?” In response to the first item two-thirds (65%) preferred to live until 85 years, while under the condition of being healthy about 80% expressed a wish to live to at least 120 years (53% desired an unlimited lifetime).

Table 1.

Measurement and Distribution of Longevity Desires: An Overview of Findings

Authors/sampleSample items on longevity desireKey findings
Lang and colleagues (2007) a
N = 364 (Study 2), M = 52 years (20–92 years); 54% female
(1) What age would you like to reach?
(2) How desirable would it be for you to reach the age you want to if you were confronted with a health problem resulting in frailty or need for care?
(1) Desired years: M = 85, SD = 10; 17% desired to live beyond 90
(2) Not desirable: 75%
Cicirelli (2011)
N = 109, M = 77 years (60–99 years), 64% female
If you could choose and you knew you could maintain good health, how many more years would you like to live?Wished for 16 more years (SD = 8.9)
Karppinen, Laaokkonen, Strandberg, Tilvis, and Pitkälä (2012)
N = 283, M = 79 years (75–90 years), 62% female
How many more years would you still wish to live?Wished for 8 additional years on average: <5: 26%, 5–10: 56%, >10: 18%
Donner and colleagues (2016)
N = 1,000, 20–70 years,b 67% female
(1) How long would you like to live?
(2) If you could be physically and mentally the same as in your 20s, how long would you like to live?
(1) 65% → desire 85 years
(2) 80% → 120 or more years (unlimited: 53%)
Karppinen, Laakkonen, Strandberg, Huohvanainen, and Pitkala (2016)
N = 1,405, = 83 years (75– 96 years), 69% female
(1) Do you want to live to be 100?
(2) Why?
(3) Why not?
(1) 33% want to live to be 100
(2) for purpose in life: 57%
(3) expecting disability: 48%; negative view of late life: 77%
Ekerdt and colleagues (2017)
N = 90, 65–85 years,b 54% female
(1) Would you like to have more time?
(2) If someone would offer you extra years, how many would you like to get? What for?
No wish for more time: 37%; conditional on health: 48%; unconditional wish for more years: 15%
Bowen and Skirbeck (2017)a
N = 1,631, M = 42 years (18–64 years), 50% female
If you had your choice, how long would you like to live? That is, until what age?Desired lifetime: 90 years (median); 17% prefer less than 80 years
Ambrosi-Randic, Nekić, and Tucak Junaković (2018)
N = 423, M = 69 years (60–95 years), 57% female
What age would you like to reach?
How long do you expect to live?
Desired average lifetime: 88 years (SD = 9), 4 years longer than expected

aResponses more than 120 years were recoded as 120 in this study.

bMean age not reported.

Taken together, the available studies so far suggest that four general patterns of responses to questions on longevity desires can typically be observed, that is, (a) a conditional wish for longer life as long as one feels healthy (majority), (b) a wish to continue one’s life “as long as it goes” or for a few years (often accompanied by a reluctance to think about desired longevity), (c) unrealistic wishes for a very long or unlimited life (more often in samples of younger adults), and (d) no wish to live any longer than expected (more often observed in samples of very old adults). Next to such single item-based approaches of assessing preferred life duration (e.g., Lang et al., 2007), there are also other related research approaches that are based on different methods to assess motivation for prolonged and continuated life. A prominent example is the will-to-live construct used in the work of Carmel (Carmel, 2011Carmel, Baron-Epel, & Shemy, 2007). The will-to-live scale is suitable for individuals who are currently facing situations in which they consciously question their will to live (e.g., old age, aversive life conditions). Research shows that expressions of will to live among very old individuals are—among others—associated with subjective aging indicators (Shrira, Carmel, Tovel, & Raveis, 2018) and longer survival (Carmel et al., 2007Karppinen et al., 2012).

Attitudes on the Extension of Longevity: Motivational Mindsets

The available theoretical considerations and empirical findings on desired longevity point to a considerable heterogeneity and breadth of diverse research venues that are not yet well connected with each other. For example, research on the value of health or attitudes to dying and death often involve issues related to the valuation of life and longevity preferences (Cicirelli, 2011Ditto, Druley, Moore, Danks, & Smucker, 1996Karppinen et al., 2012Lockhart et al., 2001). In an attempt to integrate some of the different lines of reasoning and research findings, we submit that there exist three widespread classes of attitudes, expectations, and preferences with regard to a possible extension of human lifetime in modern societies that may reflect different schools of thought, such as essentialism, medicalism, and stoicism. Table 2 summarizes the different primary motives that are associated with the three perspectives on longevity and life-time extension, that is, infinite lifehealthy life, and dignified life. We submit that these three primary motives can be used to characterize different scientific approaches on longevity, as well as individual attitudes and preferences toward longevity in everyday thinking. We refer to such perspectives as mindsets that involve sets of representations, attitudes, and ways of thinking about the meaning and value of a prolonged live.

Table 2.

Mindsets of Longevity Motivation

MindsetMotiveGuiding principleResearch focus (sample)
EssentialistInfinite lifeMotivation for extended life span involves striving to overcome biological degeneration and health declinesAntiaging medicine, rejuvenation
MedicalistHealthy lifeMotivation for extension of lifetime is conditional on physical and mental healthCurative medicine, therapeutic intervention
StoicistDignified lifeMotivation for a long life reflects a wish for dignity and meaning even when there is loss and vulnerabilityPalliative medicine, geriatric rehabilitation

An essentialist mindset views aging as a degenerative process that is inevitably associated with physical loss. It reflects the idea that aging is a determined and undesirable process, and that the human mind is held captive in a deficient biological organism. Accordingly, pathological aging cannot be differentiated from normal or healthy aging. One implication is that aging per se is viewed as pathogenetic and ought to be pushed back, for example, with antiaging medicine (De Grey, 2003). Consequently, radical extensions of the life span are expected when antiaging research is successful. A focus in research, but also in personal lifestyles, is on turning off degenerative processes in the cell, skin, organism, or mind. We refer to this as essentialism because it reflects a belief that aging is essentially defined by biology (Weiss, 2018). Such perspectives also become evident in attempts of bio-technical approaches that aim at surmounting limitations of the human existence. Examples of an essentialist motivation for longevity are also reflected in transhumanist attitudes (More & Vita-More, 2013), and become evident in the work of organizations such as the Life Extension Foundation or the Calorie Restriction Society (McGlothin & Averill, 2008). Consequently, such mindsets may also be associated with a wish to live an extremely and to date unrealistically long life while disregarding implications or consequences on social, behavioral, cognitive, and motivational aging. Recent studies of Cicirelli (2011) and Ballinger, Tisdale, Sellen, and Martin (2017) suggest that the prevalence of essentialist mindsets can be estimated in the range of 3–10% of respondents who wish to live forever or wish to “overcome” the natural aging process.

medicalist mindset involves that human aging is viewed as burdened only when pathology occurs, and that pathological aging is different from normal aging. In this perspective, aging is associated with age-related health risks, and defined as a medical challenge. One implication is that successful aging may be defined as an absence of disease and disability (Rowe & Kahn, 1997).

There is a long and wide tradition regarding such mindsets on longevity that has generated a myriad of insights and improved understanding of the potentials for extending the healthy and active life expectancy (Hay et al., 2017). Medical and clinical research has identified some of the somatic, cellular, molecular, and genetic limitations of the human life span (Kirkwood, 2005). On an individual level, medicalism is reflected in an appreciation for an extended lifetime if health functioning can be maintained, and degenerative diseases such as dementia can be avoided.

Another implication might be that when endorsing a medicalist mindset, individuals may prefer to avoid the vulnerability of old age and wish to die rather than to become chronically ill or demented. Such tendencies have been investigated in studies on health values and time trade-offs.

Therein individuals are asked to equate a number of years living in imperfect health (e.g., severe pain, unconsciousness, or just the current health state) with the same or a smaller number of years living in perfect health (Ayalon & King-Kallimanis, 2010Tsevat et al., 1998) or they are asked how long they would like to live under certain medical conditions (Ditto et al., 1996Lawton et al., 1999).

Related research investigated the wish for life-sustaining treatments under different illness scenarios (e.g., Carmel & Mutran, 1997). Results indicate that most individuals express a preference to not continue life in a severely restricted health condition, while a few others want to continue living even under such adverse circumstances.

Thus, a majority seems to express health-conditional longevity desires that involve continuity of one’s personal capacities and resilience. In this vein, Rietjens and colleagues (2005) classified 35% of their representative life-span sample (N = 1,777 aged 20–93 years) to value quality over length of life, which reflects a medicalist perspective. Another 30% of respondents valued length over quality, and 35% were indecisive.

The stoicist mindset for living long reflects the idea that withstanding the challenges and risks of a long or prolonged life is part of the conditio humana (Cole & Sierpina, 2007), which involves striving for meaning in life, and for acceptance of one’s actual life condition (Butler, 1975Erikson, 1959). We refer to this as stoicism which was an ancient hellenistic school founded by Zeno of Citium (332–262 BC) suggesting that the virtues of the human mind (e.g., wisdom, courage) prevail over all external hardships or constraints in life such as physical loss (cf. P. B. Baltes & Baltes, 1990).

The challenges, needs, risks, or tasks within the aging process may thus appear manageable or at least bearable as long as there is meaning in life and a sense of grace (Carmel, 2011Lawton et al., 1999). For example, palliative and hospice care is aiming to enhance well-being and to preserve a sense of dignity, when curative therapies become ineffective. Palliative care may thus foster meaning in life even in its final stages, and in severe chronical health conditions (Steinhauser et al., 2000). Preserving dignity and meaning in a prolonged life is pivotal to a stoicist mindset.

Thus, having a worthy and dignified life may be emphasized over the absence of chronical diseases in late life. Regarding the desired extension of lifetime, we submit that holding a stoicist mindset may involve that individuals express a valuation of life per se and “as it comes.” This may also involve a discomfort or unwillingness to reflect about lifetime extension rather than about dignity and meaning in life. The stoicist motivation on longevity relies on an optimality principle of aging (P. B. Baltes & Baltes, 1990Lang, Rohr, & Williger, 2011) that refers to a best possible life rather than to absolute standards of a good life.

Note that our description of these mindsets as essentialistmedicalist, or stoicist, is not intended as a typology. Rather we contend that the different patterns of longevity-related thinking may be present at the same time but with varying intensity or strength. For example, an individual may express a stoicist mindsets with regard to withstanding physical challenges, and at the same time follow a medicalist mindset that life is undesirable when suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

A distinctive characteristic of the three mindsets, however, pertains to which of the salient motives of infinite, healthy, and dignified life is actually prioritized. Any pairwise comparison of two (out of the three) motives reveals overlap but also distinctive features: For example, a motive to reach an infinite life may imply striving for a healthy life. The essentialist emphasis, however, lies on the idea of overcoming degeneration as a cause of age-related decline or death (De Grey, 2003McGlothin & Averill, 2008More & Vita-More, 2013). One may argue that an essentialist mindset is taking the medicalist mindset to the extremes.

The medicalist motive for a healthy life implies that life should also be meaningful. However, the scope of medicalist views primarily lies on maintaining health and functioning. In this perspective, it is conceded that “normal” aging may also entail gains (Ayalon & King-Kallimanis, 2010; P. B. Baltes & Smith, 2003Butler, 1975Piersol & Bortz, 1939Tesch-Römer & Wahl, 2017). Finally, when prioritizing a motive of dignified life this does not preclude a wish to have a healthy life. Rather, a stoicist mindset implies a wish for prolonged lives to reflect meaning and grace irrespective of whether this involves chronical and severe health conditions (Butler, 1975Carmel, 2011Kruse, 2017). In sum, differentiating the three motivational mindsets contributes to improved understanding of longevity preferences and attitudes toward longer lives.

A Heuristic Model of Motivation for Longevity

In 2007, Lang, Baltes, and Wagner proposed a preliminary information-theoretical model for the investigation of longevity motivation across adulthood. The model was built on the premise that individuals—in principle—do not know their personal future, and thus can only speculate about their preferences regarding very old age and late life.

In this situation, individuals may rely on two broad sources of information about longevity, that is, (a) the cultural and societal contexts that organize the life span such as education, social structure, norms, and values, and (b) the experiential level of one’s personal biography, cognition, attitudes, and expectations. Lang and colleagues (2007) observed that the experiential-level sources of information better predicted personal desires of longevity than societal-level sources of information.

Advancing and extending this model, we suggest that the different mindsets of longevity motivation depend on contextual influences (e.g., culture, age, gender, personal experiences), on health functioning as well as on personal beliefs (e.g., attitudes toward aging, religiosity, future perspectives, death acceptance). 

Figure 1 illustrates a heuristic model of determinants and consequences of the mindsets of longevity motivation. According to this model, mindsets of longevity motivation are depending on contextual influences, mental and physical health as well as on personal beliefs. For example, better access to social security and Medicare in one’s culture may be related to a stronger endorsement of stoicist mindsets. Personal belief systems may also differentiate between the three mindsets of longevity motivation:

For example, a stoicist mindset may be associated with greater spirituality and death acceptance, whereas essentialist mindsets may be related to more secular beliefs and to more negative attitudes toward old age. Medicalist mindsets, in contrast may be associated with deficit-oriented views of aging, and with a stronger emphasis of personal health values. Moreover, personal belief systems may differ depending on mental and physical health functioning, as well as on the respective societal and cultural context.

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Figure 1.
A heuristic model of motivational mindsets on longevity. Note. Lines from determinants (left column) to mindsets and to consequences are meant to indicate directed paths, whereas lines between essentialist, medicalist, and stoicist mindsets indicate the interplay among these.

While there is some research on age and gender differences in longevity motivation (e.g., Carmel et al., 2007Lang et al., 2007), not much is known about the role of other contextual variables, health, and personal belief systems in this regard.

For example, religious beliefs and spirituality may play a critical role with regard to how long one desires to live. Few studies have explicitly explored such associations. Ballinger and colleagues (2017) explored the role of religiosity with respect to endorsing lifetime extension to 100 years, 150 years or indefinitely.

The vignettes presented in this study, envisioned either minimized health decay in a prolonged life (medicalist), or an arrested aging process (essentialist) as a condition for lifetime extension. Stronger religiosity (e.g., beliefs in god’s will) was generally associated with lower wishes for healthy prolongation of lifetime. Findings like that may however differ between religions and depending on the envisioned health condition (Carmel & Mutran, 1997).

The heuristic model also implies that the three mindsets of longevity motivation will be differentially related to consequences on the level of research strands as well as on the level of individual behavior. For example, a more medicalist mindset may involve a greater focus on health prevention. Stoicist mindsets may generate a palliative and accepting approach to longevity-related challenges. Lastly, essentialist mindsets may involve a greater emphasis on antiaging medicine, or on cosmetics.

Consequently, we argue that each of the three mindsets may also be reflecting different agendas in scientific research, for example, with regard to focusing on antiaging experimental research in the lab, medical therapies for aging-related diseases, or intervention research that targets on resilience and maintaining a will to live.

There are very few examples for studies that seem to target all three mindsets of longevity motivation simultaneously, and thus help to bridge some of the gaps between the different perspectives. One example is an innovative and unique study that Cicirelli (2011) conducted with 109 adults aged 60–99 years.

In this study participants reported if they would like to live forever (esssentialist), how long they would like to live if they could maintain good health (medicalist), and how the expected duration of one’s life was associated with one’s goals and meaning in life (stoicist). On average, study participants expressed unfavorable attitudes toward an infinite life and toward major life extension.

If imagining to live forever or to live for 150 years, participants endorsed goals such as personal and societal achievement and helping others. If imagining to have 6 months left or up to 10 years, maintaining good relationships with others was considered more important. If imagining fewer than 6 months to be left in life, participants endorsed goals related to preparing for death.


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