Longevity is often thought of in terms of maximum lifespan, but healthspan is an equally important metric to optimize for. To explore the difference of healthspan, lets compare two possible days…

In the first scenario, you wake up feeling tired and need many coffees to help you get more alert. You struggle to focus, and have a sugary cookie in the morning to get some more energy. You spend most of your day sitting and looking at a screen, but open up Instagram constantly and don’t get as much done. Your bodyfat is high but you aren’t feeling motivated to change your diet yet. Suffering from brain frog prevents you from being as creative as you used to be. You think back to 10 years ago when you felt better, but blame it on aging or bad genetics or stress at work. After some drinks in the evening to numb yourself, you have trouble falling asleep. The Health Score is stuck 50s or 60s, with a high resting heart rate from lack of exercise and low-quality sleep. You know that is not great, but don’t have the time or energy to do something about it.

Now lets imagine an alternate universe. You wake up feeling well-rested. You check Gyroscope in the morning and your sleep score is 93%, with a high HRV and low resting heart rate. You feel like you have energy to accomplish all the things you set out to. You are physically and mentally feeling sharp, are productive at work, and make time for family or friends. You spend the day active. You get a lot of work done, and then and take a break to spend some time in nature for a workout. You know that balancing exercise with work is actually much more productive than sitting at your desk all day uninspired. In the evening you spend some time with friends. You go to bed feeling fulfilled. Your Health Score remains between 80 to 90, which indicates everything is operating smoothly.

Which situation would you prefer?

Even though people can now live a long time — especially with medical advances and great hospitals — people are still spending much of that life under significant mental or physical stress. The experience each day may not be very enjoyable. Before focusing on total lifespan, we need to figure out how to live each day to its full potential.

Our goal at Gyroscope is to help you have more perfect days, or at least more days that resemble the second scenario. It’s not enough to have a long life if the days of your life aren’t spent feeling how you want to feel. Your body and mind should not be holding you back from your purpose in life.

Unfortunately, most people are stuck living out the former scenario. Then it’s no surprise that most people aren’t interested in longevity. It sounds miserable. Who would want 10,000 or 20,000 more days of work, stress and suffering? And to do so by giving up the few small pleasures they have left — tasty desserts, alcohol, or staying up late watching TV — seems like a terrible deal. Living 5 years less but having fun sounds like a better trade-off.

Often when discussing longevity, many people feel it is undesirable. Often this is because their days are not very pleasant, their bodies and minds already feel out of their control. They may have been aging rapidly since childhood, and assume by 70 or 80 they will be unable to do anything they enjoy.

The first step of longevity must therefore be to improve your daily life. This concept is known as healthspan. It is the quality of your life rather than simply the length of it.

More perfect days. A well functioning body and mind. Reaching your full potential.

It is possible, but you have to really want it, because it isn’t always easy. Most people will have decades of bad habits to fight against. Many people have done it though, and shared how. Some have figured it out on their own (reading guides like this one), while others don’t have the time or energy for that and hired a coach to tell them what to do.

It won’t happen overnight, but could be accomplished in less than a year.

We explored how to avoid the most common preventable causes of death — heart attack, stroke, alzheimers, injuries. Avoiding diseases or early death is paramount, but health and longevity goes far beyond simply not getting sick.

Can we use those same principles that let us avoid diseases to proactively improve our daily lives? To have more energy and focus? To avoid anxiety and stress? To spend more time having fun with our friends? To reach our true potential? We believe so. Let’s see how...

From abstract to concrete

What is health? What is healthspan? These are too vague to think about accurately or optimize. Turning these vague ideas like “healthy eating” or “being active” into objective and trackable metrics can be the difference between success and failure. If you’ve struggled with consistency or knowing what to do in the past, setting up tracking and constant reminders can be instrumental in finally making progress. With the right information and guidance, it doesn’t need to be a lot of work.

Healthspan is a very abstract concept, so we quantify this through the Health Score. Increasing it has two benefits: improving your total longevity, but more importantly getting more results and experiences out of life.

Knowing your resting heart rate went down from 60 to 50 is a lot more useful than guessing if you are more healthy than you were last year. Knowing that your bodyfat percentage is around 30% and that you want to get to 20 for reduced disease risk is a lot more useful than just remembering you should avoid processed foods because someone on Instagram said it was good to do so.

If you check your metrics and see they are already all perfect, that’s awesome and you should keep doing what you’re doing!

The Heart

Track your Resting heart rate

Your heart is constantly beating, from the day you’re born, until the day you die. It is important to take care of it and let it rest, at least slowing down though not completely stopping. Across a wide range of mammals, slower heart rates are associated with greater longevity. *

There is a remarkable correlation between resting HR and lifespan. Increased HR is universally associated with greater risk of death. Lower levels around 40-50bpm are optimal, while the risk of mortality increases 30% to 50% for every 20 beats/min increase at rest. *, *, *

You can check your heart rate right now in 60 seconds with no wearables or devices, besides just a clock. Heart rate is simply a count of how many times your heartbeat in 60 seconds. If you can feel it, you can count it. Having an automated sensor (like in an Apple Watch) makes this much easier to do, and the measurement while you are asleep is much more useful for a consistent comparison of resting heart rate.

Through the Gyroscope Health Score, we have seen a significant range in resting heart rates. Some people who are in great shape go as low as 40 bpm every night, while others who are overweight or metabolically unhealthy could struggle to get below 80 or 90.

Fortunately, this metric is easy to measure, and one that you can control and start to change.

Ways to improve your resting heart rate

  • maintain a healthy body composition
  • exercise more often
  • exercise more intensely
  • break up sedentary time and walk more often

Optimize your nervous system with HRV

Heart rate variability (HRV) indexes functioning of the vagus nerve, arguably the most important nerve in the human body. HRV has been confirmed as a strong, independent predictor of morbidity and all-cause mortality. Even more helpful is to follow your HRV trends, they will increase when you’re making efforts to improve health and fitness. *

High HRV is associated with survival prognosis in centenarians. *

Persistently high HRV in the elderly represents a marker predictive of longevity. *

Some ways to increase your resting HRV are...

  • get enough sleep and reduce sleep debt
  • manage stress in healthy ways like breathing, meditation, and therapy
  • exercise more often and give yourself time to recover
  • read hrv.guide for the complete guide

Manage blood sugar levels

Elevated blood sugars can cause a shorter life span, even without diabetes.

Fasting glucose levels associated with the lowest mortality were 80–94 mg/dL (regardless of sex and age). Prediabetes (100–125 mg/dL) was associated with higher mortality. *

Hyperglycemia can increase oxidative stress and inflammatory signals which lead to mitochondrial and DNA damage. High sugar levels also lead to an increase in the glycation of proteins leading to the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which can cause functional and structural damage of tissues, leading to advanced aging of cells and disease. Glucose also affects longevity factor SIRT1. *

Unmanaged blood sugar levels lead to insulin resistance, one of the most common (but potentially avoidable) routes to metabolic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and stroke. This is a complex topic, but you can learn more about tracking and improving your glucose levels at glucose.guide

Some people find it useful to check their own levels, while others may prefer to save money and just implement the best practices, or get the noninvasive insights from Food XRAY.

Ways to manage your blood sugar...

  • Make sure every meal you eat is well balanced
  • Avoid snacking or try intermittent fasting
  • Limit ultra processed foods or high sugar


Upgrade your body composition & appearance

Obesity is a risk factor for inflammatio. Chronic, low-grade inflammation can accelerate aging in a process known as “inflammaging”. Keeping track of your bodyfat percentage and body measurements can help make sure you are staying within healthy ranges: *

For women: bodyfat percentage between 14-28%, waist circumference under 35 inches

For men: bodyfat percentage between 6-25%, waist circumference under 40 inches

Some ways to improve your bodyfat percentage and muscle mass...

  • Add resistance training to your routine
  • Be mindful of food intake and processed foods
  • Track your weight and bodyfat frequently for an accurate trend
  • Study the entire guide at bodyfat.guide

Eat more whole foods

As mentioned earlier, eating ultra-processed foods is a quick and sure way to age your body. On the other hand, eating more inflammation-lowering nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fats will fight free radicals, prevent disease, and help slow the aging process.

By studying blue zones, the areas of the world where people live the longest, we know that whole, unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts, and beans are some of the healthiest foods you can eat to prolong your life and prevent disease.

Whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables, fish, nuts, and olive oil are a dietary staple of the Mediterranean area, one of the most commonly studied blue zones. Adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet seems to be associated with the longest telomere length and high longevity. *, *

Ways to improve your meal quality...

  • eat more plants, especially leafy greens
  • give preference to minimally processed foods
  • cut back on processed meats, trans fats, and sugar
  • make sure every meal is well balanced with protein and fat

The Brain

Track your mood daily

New studies are constantly finding that mental health plays a large impact on our physical health. Tracking your mind is therefore one of the most important datapoints, and one that you can start to do within Gyroscope.

Once you start to have a good awareness of your mood state and how your energy levels, wellness, anxiety and other metrics shift over time, it is time to start making improvements. Fortunately there are many tested methods to make this happen.

Get your mind running perfectly

Ways to improve your emotional state and reduce stress...

  • Meditation and breathwork
  • Physical exercise
  • Therapy
  • Social connections

“Across controlled studies, mindfulness meditation appears to improve physical health symptoms and functioning across a variety of disorders, and increases measures of mental health, including reduced negative affect and increased quality of life. It is thought that these positive effects are mediated in part by reductions in psychological and physiological stress. TM has been linked to reduced cardiovascular disease risk factors and in controlled trials, has reduced blood pressure and carotid artery atherosclerosis…”

“Oxidative stress may be an important mediator between stress and disease. It is linked to cardiovascular disease, as well as telomere shortening. Although few studies have examined oxidative stress balance, two initial studies found that meditation practitioners had lower levels of a marker of oxidative stress (lipid peroxidation).” Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres

“Overall, the field reveals that MBT and other MBIs have a potential for reversing stress-mediated pathophysiological processes across the life span. This may occur through a shift toward more intermediate levels of perceived stress, closer to the hormetic zone, with improved regulation of SNS, promoting well-being, health, and longevity.” — The Science of Hormesis in Health and Longevity, Chapter 22

“…the conservative estimate of the net increase in life expectancy with physical activity is about 2–4 years but presumably even greater because of the positive influence of physical activity on major risk factors for mortality.” — Does Physical Activity Increase Life Expectancy? A Review of the Literature