“Age is not how old you are, but how many years of fun you’ve had.” – Matt Maldre
We have long been fascinated as a society with the concept of aging, how to overcome it and how our modern technological advances are helping us to take these steps. In fact, it has been predicted that the global anti-aging market will reach $216.52 billion by 2021, a staggering number when you stop to consider it. We invest time, energy and money into plastic surgery, anti-aging creams, chemical peels, anti-cellulite treatments, botox and more. Even more concerning is the fact that these efforts aren’t actually aimed at increasing our lifespan, but merely giving creating the illusion that we are younger for longer.
On the other end of the spectrum, the money and energy put into the health and fitness industry reveal a large portion of the population actively working to extend their lifespan by improving their overall health. The market in the United States alone was valued at approximately $25.8 billion in 2015.
When discussions regarding our current health care field and the incredible advances that we see in the areas of both medicine and technology come to light, we often point to the generations that came before us. By believing that we have improved our lifespan we can justify the decision that we have made, and the costs paid. However, is this statement true?
A recent study set out to further understand the lifestyle, morbidity and overall lifespan of our ancestors, specifically those in Anglo-Saxon, England. Published in the ‘Journal of Anthropological Archaeology,’ the researchers studied medical records from a number of Anglo-Saxons who died between 475 and 625 AD. Their conclusions shed a new light on our understanding of the health and longevity of people who lived during that time.
The study’s co-author Marc Oxenham of the Australian National University’s School of Archaeology and Anthropology explained, “To be sure, the advent of modern medicine, and a range of social developments, has led to the greater proportion of humanity living to old age. However, it is clear that thousands of years ago, humans were also living well into their 80s and 90s; just not a particularly high proportion of their communities managed that.”
To be clear, the study does not discount the benefits of modern medicine – today more people are reaching older ages than ever before, however, it dispels the popular misconception that our ancestors all died in their 30s and 40s. This opens the door to additional research, aimed at better understanding the health and well-being of those who lived during that time.