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What's Your Healthspan

April 20, 2024

What's Your Healthspan

The word ‘healthspan’ has been absorbed into our daily lexicon. It pops up as often as lifespan now as the movement to maximise health progresses.

Healthspan is the length of time a person is healthy, not just alive, and was coined by gerontologists in a 1987 Science article. A period of life in which you are healthy and free from chronic disease or disability.

It’s something we’ve focussed on for hair for most of my career and our natural science pushes for breakthrough ingredients that increase the healthspan of hair. Long, thick healthy hair rather than thin, broken, brittle hair. We have the knowledge and the products to protect your hair, starting with our hero LifeSaver Prewash Treatment.

But back to the whole person.

Historically, lifespan or longevity were a measure of quantity, and the goal of ageing was to live as long as possible. Developments in healthcare and medicine have dramatically increased lifespan in the last hundred years. Healthspan much less so in the last decades. 

A lot of chronic disease is the result of modern lifestyles, and the focus is shifting to healthspan, and where we can proactively work to retain better natural health. The choices we make today will affect our mobility and vitality in later life, so by adopting healthier lifestyles, we increase our chances of participating more fully in life in the ways we choose.

The retirement concept is a political construct from the advanced industrialised nations. The idea of a short vocation before a long leisurely vacation retirement has been promoted for the last fifty years and led recent generations into lifestyles in conflict with our biology. Retirement doesn’t exist in nature, nor in many countries that have longer-living citizens.

As society grapples with this 20–40-year longevity bonus, it’s finding that earlier and earlier sedentary retirement isn’t the best solution. Retirement accelerates biological decline because it sets us up for winding down rather than staying in growth mode. Use it or lose it.

If not consciously proactive, leisure-based retirement can lead to: sedentary living, increased isolation, excess self-indulgence, and lack of purpose. All known to be harmful to human health. Unretirement and semi-retirement are a growing trend. 

In tune with this societal shift, medical spas are getting grander and more scientific. The days of a swim and a rub down in a pampering spa, before fighting over the last grape and Ryvita cracker are so last century.

 

The world’s best spas are more like luxury resorts, each with their own specialisation and varying levels of discipline. From the rigorous austerity-dining, Germanic Lanserhof, to the lighter easier Vana in India both of which I can heartily recommend.

And a newer one in Thailand (already famous for the groundbreaking Chiva Som since 1995) comes Rakxa, also with specialisations for athletes. I’ve heard great things about Rakxa who also have outposts in Aspen and Tuscany, and I'll be checking it out soon to report back.

But a week or two of detox each year isn’t worth much on its own if followed by 50 weeks of retox. All these centres offer some learning to shift our consciousness and behaviours towards more beneficial lifestyle habits. They give expert supportive help in a relaxing luxury environment, which I think is a wonderful way to spend a week or two on self-care and learning. 

Within a foundation of consciously healthy living, occasional hedonistic episodes then become much more enjoyable. A little of what you like does you good.

Michael Van Clarke

Images: Rakxa Medical Spa Thailand

 





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