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Romance and Travel May Be the Secret to Longevity

Looking for a good reason to add romance and travel to your life? How about living longer, healthier and happier?

Travel can help people establish and maintain a healthy lifestyle, says Dr. David Lipschitz, director of the Center on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and an author and syndicated columnist on aging.

Travel for Long Life
According to Lipschitz, the two most important factors for longevity are health and happiness, and travel helps to foster both. Planning a trip helps seniors stay sharp, exercise keeps them fit, and traveling with a spouse or significant other is a great way for couples to reconnect through shared experiences, rekindle romance and increase intimacy.

Researchers have found that having an intimate relationship as we grow older is a critical factor for health and longevity.

Married men live an average of 10 years longer than those who aren't married, and married women live approximately three years longer.

"Love is one thing that is needed for long life, and traveling will fuel it," Lipschitz told the Dallas Morning News. "Traveling to spend time alone together will not only broaden your horizons, but make you a healthier person."

Senior Travel is Changing
But the way seniors travel is changing dramatically, and it will change even further as more baby boomers reach their senior years with more energy, better health, and more disposable income than previous generations.

"What characterizes our generation is that we're very, very individualistic, and that's going to affect the way we will be traveling," Lipschitz told Knight Ridder Newspapers. "We are a well-traveled generation. Where haven't we been? Now I want to go to Antarctica, to the Galapagos Islands, to Mongolia. I want travel that makes me feel there's nothing in life I cannot do."

Seniors are Changing the Travel Industry
The global population is aging so rapidly that the travel industry will be forced to accommodate their needs and preferences - from more healthful dining choices to a wider range of group and independent travel options tailored to seniors.

Some of these changes are already taking place. For example, Elderhostel, the world's largest educational travel organization for adults 55 and over, has introduced more intergenerational travel and a Road Scholar program that offers more active and independent travel without the usual age restriction.

"For a number of years, we've been preparing for this next wave, this next generation aging into retirement years," said James Moses, Elderhostel's president. "We have some very specific differences between Road Scholar and Elderhostel." The new travel program is more active and tailored to self-exploration than the traditional Elderhostel trip, which includes comfortable accommodations, morning lectures, and afternoon field trips, always in a group that explores themes together."

Travel At Any Age
But it's not only younger seniors that are starting to hit the road in record numbers. Lipschitz notes that 50 percent of America's 85-year-olds now live independently and have more lifestyle options than ever before.

"They can do anything they want," he says. "I don't think major bus tours are the wave of the future."


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