How to live longer: Have children and move to Orkney

·5 min read
Where you live and whether you have children could impact your life expectancy, new research has suggested. (Getty Images)
Where you live and whether you have children could impact your life expectancy, new research has suggested. (Getty Images)

When it comes to living longer we know that eating well and exercising regularly are important contributing factors, alongside drinking three cups of coffee a day, apparently, but turns out there are some other, more surprising, factors that could also have an influence on life expectancy. 

It seems that if we want to live a long and healthy life we should all be looking to have children and move to the Orkney Islands. 

The findings come from insurance broker, Reassured, who analysed the latest ONS data around life expectancy and assessed how different lifestyle choices such as getting married, where you set up home, and whether you have children can all impact how long we are likely to live.

Being married seems to have a positive impact on men, as whilst the overall life expectancy for UK males is currently at 84.3 years, for married men this increases to 85.4 years (+1.1 years). 

However, interestingly, the opposite is true for women, with those females who have said 'I do' seeing their life expectancy drop from 87.2 to 86.2 years (-1 year), suggesting that when it comes to living a long life, women may be better off single.

Read more: Look at all the lonely people: Why do over 80% of retirees feel isolated?

Should we all be moving to the Orkney Islands? (Getty Images)
Should we all be moving to the Orkney Islands? (Getty Images)

Sara Davison, The Divorce Coach, believes it's still worthwhile looking for love though, even if it could affect your life expectancy: “Love and connection is one of our primary needs, so it’s a vital ingredient for a happy and fulfilled life. 

"They say that nothing worth having comes easy and a healthy relationship takes hard work, commitment, and a willingness to adapt and grow with your partner.”

Marriage isn't the only big life event to have an impact on the nation’s life expectancy either, with everything from our eduction to our social interactions, believed to have an influence on our overall health and quality of life. 

While many new mums and dads will claim having a baby has aged them, turns out choosing not to have children could have a bigger impact on your longevity. 

For childless men, the average life expectancy was 1.4 years less (82.9) than the national average, and for childless women it was 1.2 years less (86).

Where you choose to set up home has a role to play on how long you live too, with the Orkney Islands coming out on top as the place where both men and women can expect to enjoy the most years in "good health". 

Watch: Michael Caine has quit alcohol in a bid to live longer. 

Unfortunately, the outlook is not quite so peachy in other areas of the UK, with the Lancashire seaside town of Blackpool topping the list of places where Brits have experienced the lowest number of ‘good health’ years.

Read more: Silver Splitters: As Bill and Melinda Gates divorce, why are so many 60-somethings starting again?

Looking at life expectancy overall, those living in the South East of England can rejoice, as men clock up on average 85.6 years – the highest in the country – of good living, whilst women in the South East have an equally as impressive average life expectancy of 88.3 years.

“Following what has been a year of much turbulence and uncertainty, many of us are likely to have spent at least some time re-evaluating what is truly important, whether it be our partner, the children, the grandchildren or the family home," says Steve Marshall, chief executive at Reassured.

“Life is often described as being short. But it’s fascinating to see how many elements of our everyday lives can impact these numbers."

The news comes as scientists are thought to have uncovered the secret to slowing the ageing process, thanks to the discovery of a previously unknown piece of genetic code.

A team of scientists, from the University of Edinburgh and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Germany, have uncovered a link between high iron levels in the blood and the ageing process.

Study authors now believe their research could help accelerate the development of drugs to reduce age-related diseases, extend healthy years of life and increase the chances of living to old age disease-free.

Read more: Super-fit great granddad, 80, is UK's oldest Sunday league player

Single women seems to live longer than their married counterparts. (Getty Images)
Single women seems to live longer than their married counterparts. (Getty Images)

The study follows further research suggesting that Generation X are more likely to suffer more years of bad health than older baby boomers now in their 60s and early 70s.

In 2020, scientists discovered that wealthy people can expect to live, on average, eight to nine more “healthy” years of life compared to those who are less well off.

The study, published in the Journal of Gerontology, examined how long adults can expect to live a disability-free life, rather than looking at simply life expectancy.

It was found that the biggest socioeconomic advantage in terms of disability-free life expectancy was wealth.

But it's not all down to material wealth, as researchers also believe being kind could help you live longer.

Dr Kelli Harding from Columbia University in New York believes showing compassion lowers our blood pressure, while giving our immune system a boost.

Watch: The major life moments each generation looks forward to. 

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