One hundred is really a good number
Belarusian women ranked first among CIS long-livers
Today’s pensioners aren’t just sitting on their sofas. They’re attending training courses and fitness clubs, maintaining their interest in life. In the late 1990s, Belarus was among the first of the post-Soviet countries to adopt legislation relating to demographics. Now, the national security strategy has a special chapter dedicated to this sphere. Over the past decade, Belarusian life expectancy has increased by five years.
Remedial gymnastics lessons
The new 2016-2020 Health of the Nation and Demographic Security state programme is to receive $14bn and aims to raise the average age to 74 years, via the use of modern medicine, primarily in the regions. Major campaigns are being launched to discourage bad habits, such as excessive drinking and smoking. According to forecasts, half of the adult population will be actively involved in physical fitness by 2020. Meanwhile, although scientists continue to argue over the factors which influence longevity, none deny that maintaining an interest in life, including through work, tends to be beneficial.
Lyubov Voronina, an Associate Professor of the Gerontology and Geriatrics Chair at the Belarusian Medical Academy of Post-Graduate Education, tells us, “Work is an important stimulus to living longer. When a person stops working, they begin to lose goals. In Belarus, this mostly refers to men. As soon as they retire, they begin to feel bored, fall ill and, often, die! Being old enough to draw a pension isn’t the end of life. Rather, continuing to enjoy interests is the key to living longer. A classic example is that of French Jeanne Calment, who began to fence when she was 85 years old. As she celebrated her one hundredth birthday, she learnt to ride a bicycle and she died aged 122.”
International experts have rated Belarusian women as having the longest lives of all within the CIS. However, they often face their declining years as widows, having lost their husbands ten years earlier, on average. Scientists believe that women have a more efficient enzyme system and higher psycho-emotional capacity than men, making them more resilient and less psychologically vulnerable. Women ‘fight’ against illness more effectively and tend to look after their health, while men only seek treatment once their symptoms are extreme.
Every man is the architect of their own health, as we say, with our wellbeing at least 50 percent dependent on our lifestyle. Only 10 percent of health is down to medical intervention.
“Everyone can eliminate ageing factors,” Ms. Voronina asserts. “Those who have poor habits, eating junk food and living a sedentary life, won’t live to a grand age. Stress also reduces strength. People abroad tend to live longer because they see psychoanalysts, to express their feelings and relax. Unfortunately, this isn’t common practise in Belarus as yet. I recommend going to the banya, having a massage, taking acupuncture and doing breathing exercises, to ensure relaxation.”
By Vladimir Khromov