Longevity

Since 1840, lifespans around the globe have been increasing at a rate of about one year for every four that we live. And yet as people across all cultures are adding more years to their lives, an even larger group are starting to die younger. In fact, we are probably in the midst of the first generation where parents will outlive their offspring.

Further, thanks to modern medicine, many of the ones that are living longer are doing so on an ever increasing list of machines and medications. But it doesn't have to be this way. The answer to living a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life is surprisingly simple - not easy, but simple.


Not Just More Years in Our Life, But More Life in Our Years

Healthspan
It's not necessarily about living longer, but about living better for a longer period of time. Let's focus on extending the number of years in our healthspan and the number of years in our lifespan will surely increase as well. But, who cares? The goal is to live a strong, healthy, fit life for as long as we can and then go out quickly (hopefully in a blaze of glory), happily, and without any regrets.

Longevity And The Adventure Life
Wouldn't it be nice to live an adventurous life for as long as possible. It would be a real bummer if we just start hitting our stride only to be struck down with lung cancer, heart disease, or any number of other lifestyle related illnesses.

But, the really cool thing is that most of the things that we can do to extend our lifespans are the very things that will extend our healthspans. And in doing so, we not only create more years, but we create even better years. It's an AND not an OR. We can live better now AND live longer. In fact, by living better now, we will live longer!

What Is Aging?
The biological “tipping point” where the damage of aging has begun to outpace the ability of our body and our mind to repair themselves.

Two of the major diseases of aging - cardiovascular disease and diabetes - are largely avoidable, and even reversible in some cases. A third, Alzheimer’s disease, may be up to 50% preventable.


To define aging would probably require a book or two, so I would rather point out briefly, what happens to us when we age:
  • Our heart slows down
  • Our skin loses its elasticity
  • We lose bone density and muscle mass
  • Cognitive function
  • Our aerobic capacity diminishes
  • Decrease of important hormone production
  • Conversion of sub-cutaneous (good) fat to visceral (bad) fat
These are all outcomes that we can postpone, reduce, and maybe even eliminate through development of the right lifestyle. I know I left out some important signs of aging, but I wanted to stick with the ones that we have some measure of control over. Also, there are other ailments and diseases that are associated with aging, but they are not caused by aging itself, but by other accumulated lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, or drinking too much.

Running The Gauntlet
As humanity extends the human lifespan through cleaner living standards and the advent of new medicines, it just exposes people to a gauntlet of new killers that they never had to worry about previously because they didn't live long enough to get them.

In the late 1800's more and more people survived childhood thanks to improved sanitation and hygiene, only to live long enough to die of heart disease.

In the early 1900's advances in science and medicine reduced the risks of heart disease and heart attacks only to see people now live long enough to get all kinds of cancers.

As medical advances and improved lifestyles have reduced deaths due to cancer, other lifestyle factors have increased death rates due to obesity and diabetes. And if we get through all of this, we have Alzheimer's disease waiting for us at the end.

Yikes! This can feel a bit depressing, but we don't have to resign ourselves to this fate. We don't have to give in to the gauntlet. We have the ability to avoid most of this messiness.


"80% of all deaths are lifestyle related"

Advice For Aging Well:
  • Exercise (intense exercise) - In almost every study on aging, exercise is either, directly or indirectly, the treatment, or a viable alternative to the medical prescription. Moreover, it is the only prescription that has no negative side-effects and actually makes you feel better.
  • Nutrition - Limit carbohydrates and protein to just what the body needs, take in good fats, and get as much fiber as you can handle. Avoid anti-oxidants - your body produces its own and what it doesn't, you will get from eating healthy.
  • Stress your body, but only temporarily, through intense workouts and maybe some adventures that force you out of your comfort zone.
  • Socially - Stay connected. Don't isolate yourself. Don't Retire (or at least prolong it) - JECH Study and related article.
  • Fast once in awhile (I am still working on this one) - start small by skipping breakfast or dinner and leverage your sleeping hours. Intermittent fasting can slow the aging process.
  • Keep Moving! Always keep moving! Don't let anything keep you from moving. Whatever the injury or ailment, you must find a way to keep moving!
Some Inspiration

Personal Thoughts
I have never and will never utter the words - "I am too old for this", ever! I know the day will come when my body is just not capable of performing a requested task, but I hope it is my body telling me this and not my mind. The day you say, "I am too old for this" is the day you are, and you have just taken the first step down the path to old age. Don't take that first step!

"The mind quits before the body."

A Little More on Longevity
  • Nutrition and Longevity (Coming Soon)
  • Strength and Longevity (Coming Soon)
  • Fitness and Longevity (Coming Soon)