7 Scientifically Proven Tips to Aging Well
I recently attended a lecture by Len Kravitz, a well known physiology researcher all about “the science of longevity”. It was an amazing talk full of detailed research studies showing theories about why we age and the best way to age well. Based on hundreds of studies the top 10 tips for aging well are:
1. Aerobic Exercise: Lung capacity (VO2max) declines in men starting at 20 and in women starting at 35. Researchers have realized that people can no longer care for themselves if their VO2 max drops to 18ml/kg/min for men and 15ml/kg/min for woman. The numbers probably don’t mean much to you but the fact that doing aerobic activity 3-5 times per week; 30 mins per day for only 8-10 weeks will increase your VO2max by 13%!!
2. Resistance Exercise: Loss of muscle and strength starts to happen at 40 yet studies comparing 25 year olds with 68 years olds after doing resistance training for 26 weeks twice a week showed an actual change in genetic expression meaning that the way the older groups genes were functionally was similar to the younger group!! In addition to changing your genetic makeup resistance training will also decrease fat, increase bone mineral density, increase muscle strength and endurance and increase glucose metabolism.
3. Adequate Sleep: 7-8 hours sleep every night is optimal for the body—people sleep less than 6 hours nightly and 4.5 times more likely to have abnormal blood glucose readings and more likely to be obese.
4. Lifestyle (stress management): Long term chronic stress causes hormonal changes in the body including a decrease in leptin, an increase in cortisol, ghrelin (which causes your tummy to growl and makes you feel hungry) and neuropeptide Y which is related to dementia. Managing your stress levels with mind/body programs such as yoga and meditation may mean avoiding cognitive decline as you age.
5. Healthy Nutrition: A book called “Blue Zones” by Dan Buettner (National Geographic) looked at four areas in the world where people reach 100 yrs 10 times more often than Americans. Many of the secrets to longevity are linked to healthy eating-
a. Sardina- diet high in vegetables, walk at least 5 miles per day, culture emphasizes family
b. Japan- diet high in vegetables and fruits, active walkers
c. Loma Linda California (Seventh Day Adventist Community)- vegetarian diet, lots of volunteerism
d. Nicoya, Costa Rica- light dinners with corns and beans, plenty of fish and vegetables, strong sense of purpose , family and community
6. Preventative Medicine: Follow through with regular medical examinations, immunizations and screening tests
7. Early Treatment of disease and medical conditions
It is easy to say but sometimes hard to do—to age well you need to exercise both aerobically and using resistance; get enough sleep, manage your stress, eat well and take an active role in your medical visits.
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