Your Genes or Your Lifestyle — Which Matters Most?

by Bonnie

“The secret to successful aging is to choose your parents wisely.”

Maybe.  Maybe not.

lifestyle for aging well




According to a study by the MacArthur foundation, as we grow older what we inherited becomes less important while our lifestyle becomes more so.


These are the factors that help us age well:








Spiritual connection

Staying engaged in life’s activities

Having people in your life

 And the good news is that we can do something about each of these!

 What do you think?

How important are your genetics in aging well? What factors do you think are most important in aging well? Tell us in Comments below.

Thanks to The Beauty of Aging on Facebook for the information in this article.

Leave a Comment

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lorie Eber February 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I’ve read many times that aging well is 70% lifestyle and only 30% genetics. How you live makes a huge difference!

2 Bonnie February 9, 2013 at 10:53 am

Indeed, Lorie! It’s great to know there are many things we can do to help ourselves age well.

3 Mark Fickler February 11, 2013 at 11:27 am

I have read that fitness attributes (for the over 50 crowd) are perhaps 10% genetics, 10% what you do (your exercise program) and 80% lifestyle (primarily what you eat, but sleep, stress management and attitude all lay a role). It starts with food and many of hold beliefs about food that not only are not true but quite unhealthy. Educate yourself.

4 Bonnie February 11, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Those are interesting #s, Mark. I would have thought exercise was a higher %. Whatever the exact #s are, it’s clearly worth educating ourselves and making good choices for our health.

5 Gladys February 13, 2013 at 9:55 am

You can’t do much about genes. But you can do a lot with lifestyle. All I have to do is look at my family and how they choose to live. I choose to not follow that pattern.

6 Bonnie February 13, 2013 at 11:56 am

You are so right, Gladys. Some of us have better genes than others and there’s nothing to be done about that now. Lifestyle – there we have many choices. Good for you for choosing a different pattern.

7 Jeannie Hussey February 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Besides being well aware of what you put inside your body and keep moving. Attitude towards people and life in general has a lot to do with how well you age. No one can predict what comes up in our lives so it all ends up with how we handle things. Spiritually, know why you are here and realize how short our lives are and relax.

8 Bonnie February 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Great advice, Jeannie! Thanks for sharing this. “Relax” strikes me as a particularly good recommendation.

9 jo March 16, 2013 at 7:24 am

my mother is 97 and looking after her mentally ill son – her mother died at 98, her brother died at 99 her sister died at 92 – genes do make a difference

as my prof used to say – nature deals the cards, nurture plays them

10 Bonnie March 16, 2013 at 10:14 am

Agree, Jo, that both matter. Sounds like you’ve definitely got the genes for longevity. And now you get to play those cards. 🙂

11 Judy March 16, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Two things I lack from this and exercise. Since I lost my job and couldn’t find another three years ago, I have been depressed and have gained 10 lbs…So, added to the 30 I wanted to lose before that..I now need to lose 40 lbs. I need to get motivated before I gain more and give up. Just turned 60 last month and I would love to get into shape before my next birthday. Asthma keeps me from doing a lot physically and I don’t live in a neighborhood where you can walk safely. I do have a treadmill and stationery bike. So, I hope to get started soon before I talk myself out of it again. I need this!! Anyone know a good diet that I can stick to… 🙂

12 Lorie Eber March 16, 2013 at 7:13 pm

I’m a personal trainer (among other things). The Mediterranean diet is the best. Take baby steps to get back into shape and change your eating habits gradually. Focus on how you feel taking care of yourself. It will take time. The pounds didn’t come on over night and they won’t leave that rapidly. But, it will be worth it!

13 Bonnie March 17, 2013 at 9:24 am

Judy, get on that treadmill and bike! I know it can be hard, especially if you’re out of the habit of it. Start small and build from there. That’s what I have to say about that. 🙂

As for diet, we know what works is different for each of us. I went to Weight Watchers a year ago and was surprised how well it worked for me. What have you had success with before in getting/keeping to your desired weight? Maybe it’s time to try that again. Or perhaps something completely new. And it could be starting to exercise will naturally help you with the eating part.

All the best!

14 Bonnie March 17, 2013 at 9:25 am

Good advice, Lorie!

15 Judy March 17, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I was looking into the Mediterranean diet…maybe that is what I should try since you mentioned this Lorie..I looked at it on the Mayo Clinic site. I tried Weight Watchers a long time ago but couldn’t seem to keep at it. Now that there are just the two of us, it may be easier to stick with a plan. Hard to cook meals if you are cooking different things for different people…And yes Bonnie, I need to get on the treadmill and bike…that is why I bought them years ago. I just can’t seem to take the time and get started. I am going to try tomorrow. I need to get a plan and work it… Thanks!! Wish me luck!!

16 Jinanne March 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

I was privileged to know and love my great grandmother who lived to 107. Now at 65 and having blossomed despite leukemia and a bone marrow/stem cell transplant I choose to believe we daily chart our paths. Having had terrific eating habits, amazing genetics, etc., I know the tremendous value of friends, camaraderie, and a most of all a daily walk and relationship with our Lord. The mind is the pilot of our lives!

17 Judy March 18, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Glad you have a close walk with the Lord. That is the most important thing in your life. And the battles in our lives are won or lost in the mind. If we think we can…we will succeed! I am the one who has been negative most of my life and let the things I wanted to do slip away. I could have done many more great things if I hadn’t told myself I wasn’t worthy or that I couldn’t do it. I lost many battles in my mind. I regret this. I hope to accomplish a few things yet with what is left of my life. The Lord willing, I will succeed!

18 Bonnie March 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Judy, I’ll wish you all the best with your diet and exercising. Because, of course, luck doesn’t have much to do with it, does it? 🙂 Let us know how you’re doing with this. These are important changes!

19 Bonnie March 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Wow, Jinanne! You’ve obviously had some health challenges. Sounds like you’ve got the right mindset, good genetics AND make some excellent lifestyle choices. Can’t do much more than that, can you? All the best to you!

20 Bonnie March 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm

“I lost many battles in my mind.” Judy, that is sad and profound. Our minds are where most of our battles are lost — or won! It’s not too late to accomplish great things if you want to. Go for it!

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