Living longer and healthier is a choice

The dictionary defines “dummy” as an unintelligent or naive person.
In spite of that definition, I don’t mind being called “dummy” when my partner takes the bid at a bridge party. Otherwise, calling me a dummy would be a huge insult.
But apparently, judging by their reading tastes, there are thousands of people who don’t mind being labelled dummies. boasts hundreds of titles, in every conceivable category: “Iguanas For Dummies;” “Bird Watching For Dummies;” “Paris For Dummies;” “Improving Your Memory For Dummies.”
And the biggest seller right now? “Windows 10 for Dummies.”
But the title I like best is “Living Longer For Dummies” by Walter Bortz, professor emeritus at Stanford University School of Medicine and one of America’s most distinguished scientific experts on aging.
“Living longer is a choice, not fate,” says Bortz. “Living longer is active, not passive.
“You create your own destiny.”
“Living Longer For Dummies” is a down-to-earth book that shows you step-by-step how to create your own destiny.
“If you plan to live long, you couldn’t choose a better guide,” says John Gardner, founder of Common Cause.
The book begins with three thought-provoking strategies that can help you live longer and, especially, better.
1. Believe that you will live a long, healthy life
“Aging truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” says Bortz.
This eminent scientist really believes that if you expect to end your days in a nursing home, you probably will.
Conversely, if you believe that you will arrive at 100 in good health, you’ll have a better chance of making it.
“There is an increasingly large body of scientific proof of how attitude–good and bad–directly affects health outcomes,” he writes.
“The mind and the body are no longer separate. You cannot make 100 without a healthy partnership between the two.”
2. Take control of your life
“Neither your ancestors, your doctor . . . nor the Social Security Administration is going to get you to a grand old age. You and you alone can get you there.”
You can’t delegate this task. You have to take charge of your own future.
3. Know it’s never too late
No matter your age, you can take steps to help reverse the process of aging and prevent further aging.
Eat healthy, get plenty of rest, find a purpose in life, get good health care, make friends, and always remember that exercise is the ultimate prescription.
“For the young, exercise is an option,” says Bortz. “For the old, exercise is imperative.”
At the top of his website,, there are a series of inspirational quotes, including, “It is never too late to start exercising, but always too soon to stop.”
And just as your legs and biceps need a good workout, so does your brain.
Become a life-long learner. Train your memory. Stay creative. The part of your brain that gets used will grow larger.
But any part of your brain that isn’t used will shrivel up like a leg in a cast.
As Bortz reminds us, “Birth certificates do not come with expiration dates.”
So listen to the advice in “Living Longer for Dummies” and dare to be 100.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at

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