I have 98 year olds in my family who never watched what they ate, smoked a pack-a-day since their early teens, never read how-to books,never saw a psychiatrist and never exercised a day in their lives while we have 50-year olds who have had massive heart failures.
I feel moving helps a lot.I join a gym ,go water walking 3 to 4 days a week.I also watch a 6 year old and a 9 year old at least 4 days a week.Started doing this when I lost my Husband a couple of years ago.Join the Senior Center by me.They have a book club .Take day trips by bus.Also a bike club a little bit of something for ever one.Get out and see the world around you fun is around the corner enjoy life don't let it pass you bye
I recommend exercise and diet - exercise should be as vigerous as possible - diet, mostly vegetables and fruits, + protien (I stopped beef and now eat chicken). I am 71. My BP is 90/60. I have been exercising for 30+ years. I do a stairclimber - 13.6 miles with 1/4 - 1/2 mile intervals at a 4 1/2 minute mile rate. Originally, I couldn't do 1 mile. I also do push-ups - 70 per minute, 7-10 sets.
My motto has always been "if the exercise gets easy, increase the intensity or duration". When I started the push-ups, I couldn't do 10. I have fallen off the wagon from time to time and I have learned that you lose intensity and stamina in as little as 1 week. So I always try to work back to where I was. I let my body dictate what I can't do. The mind always wants to stop before the body. My advice is: "get moving and when it gets easy you need to increase the intensity/duration. My plans are to keep going until my body can't. My other motto is "If I don't take care of myself, no one else will." Good luck out there.
In my late 50s I found myself very unhealthy and out of shape. Walking up and down stairs was a challenge and walking any distance made me miserable for days. I'm happy to say that now at 67 I'm super healthy and fit. What happened? The first thing is that a friend invited me to a weight loss challenge and I was introduced to great nutrition. I thought I had tried everything but this program worked and I felt more energy. As I felt better, I started getting more active and that first year I lost over 70 lbs. Adding resistence training has been a big plus. My posture has improved, I'm strong and have great balance. Because of my experience, I found new purpose in helping others get fit and healthy. I also stay connected to family and friends and love being a healthy example for them.
I think that in large part it is due to genetics (as your examples illustrate). But my view is also that using some things to excess can shorten a life, and in any case will certainly contribute to a less "able" and lower quality of life.
My mother smoked to her end at the ripe old age 89. But as compared to her older sister and her two older sisters-in-law, none of whom smoked past the 1960's, she was frail, less able to be physically active, prone to TIA's. Similar comments apply to excessive drinking.
I've observed older relatives who were sedentary and their last years were not very fulfilling to them, I think, due to limited mobility from disease or excess weight, or lack of cardiovascular stamina and muscle strength.
So, while genetics is a big factor, I believe that to enjoy a good quality of life one should not over-indulge in food, alcohol, smoking, and should maintain some type of an active lifestyle (mild exercise, etc).
I beleive its also keeping active both bodily as well as mentally. I used to walk the local mall and have a step monitor on my cell phone. I now go to local large stores and check out things that I may need. Its iindoors, cool and you get to interact with many people.
My mental activity comes with my Grandkids, helping them prepare for school. I use maps to assist with family history, as well as TV documentaries. This is a win-win for all of us. I'm 84 but I feel much younger.
I live with my son and daughter-in-law and three grand-kids.
I agree completely with respect to genetics but I would like to think that we can overcome - or at least minimize- much of that predisposition with a healthy lifestyle. My father refused to see a doctor for medical problems and died of heart disease at 77, but his death was not considered a result of his aversion to doctors! My mother, a lifelong smoker, died of lung cancer. I have never smoked but have the risk factor because of second hand smoke!
I do my best to eat well and trek to the gym 3 times a week, and love hiking and yoga. I plan to continue as long as I am breathing!