Over the years I’ve told you to be, act, and think younger than you are.
While there is ongoing debate about the power of the mind to influence the body, more and more evidence suggests that you do indeed have some say in how you look and feel and of course, how you experience life (also known as how you behave!).
But today’s message is just a little different take on things. About 11 months ago a wrote a blog that revealed to you things I might have done differently. One of the things I mentioned was I would warm up more before exercise and I would stretch afterwards. The temptation to jump right in and put a check mark in the “done box” of exercise always made it difficult for me to get ready.
Even the concept of getting ready to exercise was kind of humorous a few decades ago. I mean, did you come to exercise or did you come to be the guy stretching and doing those silly calisthenics for 2 minutes!
Well, I can tell you now the 2 minutes has expanded into more like 20 or 30 and has become the main focus on a daily basis.
Along those lines I can tell you one of the main ironies of aging but it may be better if I tell you a story.
Not all that long ago a somewhat younger doctor colleague of mine who used to be a resident under me told me the tale of his father’s heart attack and subsequent bypass. His dad, also a doctor always “exercised” which consisted of playing tennis 3x a week and swimming once or twice a week.
In his mind that was enough.
My friend told me the tale with a mixture of confusion and knowing. He shook his head in a “no” movement with wide eyes when he said, “He thought the exercise would save him but it didn’t”. Again I cannot stress enough the mixture of confusion and lost puppy-ness on his face.
My response was probably not comforting.
I simply said, “You cannot exercise away a bad diet”. I might have added, “Not with some social tennis and lazy laps in the pool!” But at least I had the good sense to leave that out.
Another conversation about 2 friends well into their 50’s: “How are Joe and Johnny doing?”
“Oh, fine both of them tell me they are really working out hard these days.”
“Gee that’s funny, every time I see them they look exactly the same!”
And in those conversations my friends is the kernel of today’s message.
Exercise as therapy needs to be fairly aggressive within the limits of what is healthy for you. The current recommendation for “anti-aging” benefits is 40 minutes 5 days a week.
Going back to my doctor friend and his doctor dad, I saw the lifestyle close up. Eating out more nights than eating at home. A glass of wine or 2 every night (I can hear you saying, “But I thought that is healthy!”* Ad libitum eating under the guise of “Oh well I worked out today”.
Sorry, that will not help you age better. As a matter of fact, the great irony of aging is truly “Youth is Wasted on the Young!” In simple terms that means most people start to coast in their 50’s and onward.
They eat worse they drink more and they exercise less and with less vigor. Many have more financial means than ever and somehow being financially secure leads to a behavior of being secure in your health.
The inconvenient truth is you should spend more time exercising stretching and working out than ever as you age, again within the limits of your joints and health. Most people could do far more than they do safely**. Coasting may be a natural tendency but it is in fact deadly!
And exercise is not an excuse to eat poorly.
If you are one who works out don’t forget your multi and don’t forget to be on the higher end of fish oil consumption so you can reduce post workout soreness and help your muscle intake of nutrients and insulin response. All that will make your work outs more healthful and effective.
No one said successful aging was easy. But it sure can be fun especially when someone 20 years younger is panting to keep up!
Yours in having fun and staying young!
*As we dive into “personal omics” the so called use of genes to look at “personalized medicine” it becomes more apparent that some of the “healthy” habits are not healthy for everyone. 2 glasses of wine a day, supported buy the so-called French Paradox ignores the rest of the French life style and epigenetics of that population and lays all the benefit to red wine. I have ALWAYS doubted that although I am sure red wine sales have gone up over the past 20 years. You can do just as well taking red wine extract and avoiding the alcohol. Similarly some people can smoke a few cigarettes a day or an occasional cigar and have no issues. Some cannot. Aging well does have a wee bit of denial associated with it but let’s not get dramatic. You do not need wine every night, cigars and cognac every weekend and a fancy gourmet meal 5 days a week to enjoy life. If all this sounds foreign to you I can assure you there are plenty of people between 55 and 75 who do this all the time!
** Always consult your doctor when it comes to your exercise program.