Living a longer and healthier life is not all about genetics

In the News: As much as 80 per cent of how we age is controlled by how we live


The idea that our chronological age and our genes are the most important factors in determining how long we will live is one that is disputed by Prof Rose Anne Kenny of Trinity College Dublin.

Prof Kenny holds the chair of medical gerontology at the university and is the founder and principal investigator of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (Tilda), Ireland’s flagship research project in ageing. She has just written a blueprint for how we might live longer, healthier and happier lives by adopting a few simple measures including cold showers and standing on one leg.

In Age Proof: The New Science of Living a Longer and Healthier Life (published by Lagom) Prof Kenny makes it clear that it is never too late or too early to start making changes.

She notes that while one person in their 80s may be able to run a marathon another may be frail and immobile, while two people who have the same chronological age of 38 might be separated by almost two decades when it comes to their biological age.

So what is going on? Why do some of us appear resilient to ageing while others seem older than our years?

And, perhaps most importantly, what can we do for ourselves and as a society to ensure that we have fulfilling, happy and fit, long lives?

The good news is that there is a lot we can do. In fact, Prof Kenny says, we control 80 per cent of our ageing biology and only 20 per cent is controlled by our genes.

In today’s In The News Prof Kenny tells Conor Pope how we can live longer, happier and healthier lives and have a bit of fun doing so.

You can listen to the podcast here: