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Longevity study: How long adults want to live and what they do to stay healthy

Longevity study: How long adults want to live and what they do to stay healthy

We like to say things like, “Age is just a number,” and “Age is a state of mind.”

But as it turns out, we take age a lot more seriously than we care to admit.

To better understand how people think about aging and health, SurveyMonkey teamed up with with Axios to ask more than 3,000 American adults how long they want to live and how they plan to get there.

Here’s what we learned from our longevity study:

Most want to live beyond their average life expectancy

Nearly 2 out of every 3 adults (63%) in our longevity study want to live longer than their average expected life span (which is 81 and 77 years for women and men in North America, respectively).

Men are more likely than women to want to live beyond their average life span (possibly as a result of their less generous odds.).

A chart that displays how long men and women want to live relative to their gender's average lifespan.

When we dug into the results by race, we discovered that the Black adults from our longevity study are significantly more likely to want to live beyond the average lifespan than both Latinx and white adults.

A chart that displays how long Latinx, white adults, and Black adults want to live relative to their gender's average lifespan.

Finally, the older we get, the more likely we are to want to live beyond our average life span. For example, 71% of adults, 65 years and older, want to live longer versus 61% of adults, 18-34 years old. Time becomes more precious the scarcer it gets—within limits.

Living beyond 100 years—not exciting for many in our longevity study

Alzheimer's, type-2 diabetes, cancer, arthritis.

Getting older doesn’t just mean having more time on earth. It could also mean, losing our independence, or worse, our sanity.  

People seem to recognize this, as roughly half of respondents (48%) would determine whether or not they want to live more than 100 years depending on how they feel. Many respondents, however, aren’t willing to use qualifiers as part of their decision—29% wouldn’t live more than 100 years under any circumstances versus 22% who would.

When broken down by age, we found older adults to be particularly concerned about surpassing the century-year milestone. For instance, 23% of adults, 18-34 years old, would live beyond 100 years compared to 17% of adults, 65 years and older. So even though older adults are more likely to want to live beyond the average lifespan, they’re unwilling to push the limit too far.

Black adults from our longevity study are more enthusiastic than other races when it comes to living through old age.  

A chart that displays whether or not different races want to live more—or less—than 100 years.

How people plan to live a long, healthy life

There’s a seemingly endless number of tactics you can take to help prevent you from losing your joints (or your marbles), from meditating before bed to skipping dessert.

Here are the top 3 approaches people pursue to live longer:

  • Better sore than sorry. 69% get out of their comfort zone and exercise.
  • You can’t have your cake and eat it too! 67% commit to eating healthier.
  • Don’t feel the pinch. 41% carefully save money.

These methods to improve our lifespan become less desirable to follow as we get older.

A chart that displays the top 3 things people do to stay healthy, segmented by age groups.

Note: We couldn’t identify anything older adults are more likely to do than younger folks in order to live longer!

Latinx adults are slightly more eager to adopt a variety of tactics (beyond those in the top 3) than white or black adults are in the hopes of extending their lifespan. For example, 32% of Latinx adults visit the doctor more often, versus 28% and 19% of Black and white adults, respectively.

Now that you know that it’s totally normal to care about your age, don’t beat yourself up if you have a hard time buying into the clichés around being ageless!