Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Intro to Longevity

I need to clarify something before this post even gets started. My goal, which will be reflected in every post I create about longevity, is not to just live longer. My goal is not to increase all of my years, just the ones where I am stronger, fitter, healthier, and ultimately more adventurous than I may have been “destined” to be. When my day comes, it comes. But, when it does, I want to be able to look back a feel that I lived a life full of excitement and adventure.

Me And Aging
Oddly enough, my preoccupation with aging and longevity just happened to coincide with the approach of my 50th birthday. Funny how a book titled “Fast After Fifty” seems to take on a whole new level of importance when that’s the age you are about to turn.

Until a few years ago, my belief had been that we can reduce the effects of aging by attacking the very things that we associate with aging. If we become weak as we age, then let’s focus on getting stronger. If we lose our aerobic capacity, then let’s get fitter. Basically, I was determined to do the things that “old” people don’t do. Not just to be some poser, and not just to keep enjoying the activities that I have enjoyed in the past, but to get better at them.

"The baby boom generation is the first in centuries that has actually turned out to be less healthy than their parents, thanks largely to diabetes, poor diet, and general physical laziness."

Why Adventure Life and Longevity
Through my research into aging and longevity, I began to realize and believe how closely linked life extension and quality of life were to exercise. But it seemed to be even more than that. It seems that aging well is so strongly linked to one’s attitude about their physical condition as well. You really have to want to do the physical things that will keep you younger, longer. Otherwise you won’t do them.

I think most people feel that, if the effort needed to add a few years to their lives is brutally difficult and/or outright boring, then what’s the point. But what if getting stronger, and fitter, and healthier, could be funner. What if it could be an adventure. Then maybe it could be worth the effort. Maybe people wouldn’t mind the hard work necessary to stay young if it was an adventure.

"80% of all deaths are lifestyle related"

Getting Started
In the coming months, I will be posting a lot of information about aging and longevity, that I hope you will find useful. But in the meantime, here is something I would like for you to consider. There is one thing that seems to be tied to aging more than anything else, and that is frailty. It has always been assumed that frailty is the result of aging, but much of the research coming out today is suggesting just the opposite, that we age because we get frail.

Becoming frail is not inevitable. In fact, it has been proven that strength can be improved and muscle mass increased well into our 70’s and 80’s. I will be sharing many examples of people who are doing just that. In fact, you should meet Earnestine Shepherd.

“The only time old age becomes a valid excuse is when you die from it.”

So, if you are feeling gung ho and ready to start your war with the aging process, just get up and get moving. Just getting in a daily walk will add several years to your life. But don’t stop there, because just walking gets boring. Kick it up a notch and start hiking, or biking, or mountain biking! When you’re hiking,add a pack, and put some weight in it. Just for the heck of it! Make it more challenging than it has to be, this is when you will start to benefit from it. And by the way, this is where the adventure starts.

A Few More Tips
After you have started getting your heart rate up and burning some calories, maybe lift a weight or two. This could be in the gym, or it could be a big rock you found on the trail. Do a few push ups. Start building some strength, because you will soon discover that living stronger equals living longer.

And eat more fiber. Much more. As much of it as possible. You know it’s healthy, but it may be the single easiest thing you can do to improve your long-term health. Or at least you will be really regular!

One More Thing
There are a few beliefs that I have that I am so committed to that I will take them to the grave with me, and one of them is that we get old because we allow it. We allow ourselves to be convinced that we can’t do certain things (a list that grows larger every year). We are constantly reminded by our friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and ultimately, ourselves, that we are getting older. That we need to slow down. That we have to be careful. It’s when we say we are too old to do something, that we are.

Ultimately, we need to play. Play like we did when we were children. We need to run, jump, climb, ride, explore, fall down, get banged up, scraped up, cut up, and maybe even break something once in awhile. We need to experience the pain and discomfort that comes with the adventure, so we can be reminded that we are alive, not numb and complacent on the couch. We need to bring back that inner child that we put away way too prematurely and so long ago.

Pause for effect….. I hope they are still reading….

I hope you are just a little inspired. Actually, I hope you are really inspired, and I hope you will stick around for awhile and maybe even continue with me on this journey. I plan on living a longer, stronger, healthier, happier, more adventurous life, and I sure would love the company.

Take care and I hope to see you out there!

Suggested Reads:
  • Spring Chicken - by Bill Giffords
  • Fast After 50 - by Joel Friel