Aging Well

Exercise and Age - Finishing A set

Exercise and Age - Finishing A set
There is much ado about aging these days.  We worry about looking old, feeling old, getting old, and being old.  We definitely do not feel good about old.  Old conjures up thoughts about osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, loss of sight, loss of hair, loss of hearing, loss of mind... 

Satchel Paige said, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" 

 This is an interesting question.  How would you answer? The problem with the question is that in order to answer it, we have to make an assumption about age.  What does it feel like to be 30? 50? 80?  Is how "old" we feel completely related to how long we have been alive?

I once interviewed a gentleman who was 93 years old (chronologically).  He hiked 2 miles in the foothills of Albuquerque twice per week and went to the gym to lift weights.  When I asked him why he chose the gym for his workouts instead of the hospital-sponsored fitness center, he answered, "I don't like being around all those old people."

How would this man have answered Satchel?   

It is true that the longer we are alive, we may experience our bodies and our minds functioning differently.  But it is also true that we can forestall "longevity-related" decline with good nutrition, mental stimulation, a healthy environment, and appropriate exercise. Here are some of the basic guidelines: 

Accept the fact that you really and truly "are what you eat," no matter what fast food ads or even pre-prepared "healthy" meals try to sell you.  Your body is composed of trillions of living, breathing cells that need quality nutrition to help you live to your greatest capacity.  

  • Go organic with the least amount of processing.
  • Eat your colors. A diet with a wide variety of colorful foods will help ensure you are getting as many nutrients as possible from real food.  Think Rainbow - for example:  Raspberries, Yams, Squash, Broccoli, Blueberries, Prunes, Purple Onions. Now you try.  (This is a great game for kids.)
  • Eat more FAT.  That's right. More fat.  Our bodies need fat.  Our brains and nervous systems are mostly fat.  The key is to eat healthy fats; no trans-fat (found in margarine, processed foods, fast foods, and shortening).  Go for choices such as olive oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, and fats from coconuts, almonds, walnuts and avocado.
  • Get enough protein.  Americans have seesawed back and forth between high carbohydrate and high protein diets for decades.  The fact is our bodies (especially if we are growing children, recovering from illness or injury, exercising vigorously, or aging) NEED protein to maintain muscle mass and body functions.  Sources should be lean and preferably organic, and can include: eggs, lean organic poultry, organic grass-fed beef, and organic beans, such as soy, navy, kidney, pinto or black. 
  • Limit grains and choose those that have a lower glycemic index, such as barley, rice, buckwheat and amaranth.

Mental Stimulation 

The saying is true: "Use it or lose it."  Here are a few ways to stimulate the brain:

  • Read.  Go for a variety of materials that will both entertain and educate.
  • Have interesting conversations on numerous subjects with many different people.
  • Puzzles and games are good, but better if you have to perform them for time.
  • Practice deep breathing or meditation.
  • Practice positive thinking.

Healthy Environment 

This includes everything from the choices you make in cleaning products and plant food to the products you eat, drink and breathe. Think of your environment as the blanket you wrap yourself in.  You want it to be comfortable and soothing, not abrasive and smelly!

  • Appropriate Exercise - I use the term "appropriate" because the same exercise is not the best for every person.  However, every person should be doing some form of movement activity (a.k.a. exercise).  Exercise, in my opinion, is the single most important thing you can include in your lifestyle to help you live a healthful life.  The exercise that is BEST for you is the one that you WILL do.  It may be anything from skiing, to walking, to folk dancing to hula-hooping.  Find a movement activity you enjoy.  Better yet - more than one.  Do them often. In fact, most days of the week, please. And if you really want to be successful, find a friend or group to exercise with.

These are the simple truths to looking, feeling and performing your best at any age.

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