Forget anti-aging, instead age gracefully

One of my favourite health writers is Dr. Andrew Weil. I like Weil because he believes in traditional medicine and also believes in alternative medicine.
His philosophy is integrative medicine.
In a July, 2007 Time magazine article, Alice Park states that “Americans are embracing a more nature-based lifestyle these days, and for that they can thank Andrew Weil.”
And in a way that’s true. Although there are many physicians today who practice and write about alternative medicine as a supplement to traditional medicine, Weil is the front-runner.
He has been featured on the cover of Time twice, once in 1998 and again in 2005. And The New York Times Magazine wrote, “Dr. Weil has arguably become America’s best-known doctor.”
After graduating from Harvard Medical School, Weil did research with the Harvard Botanical Museum, conducting investigations of medicinal and psychoactive plants.
Today, he serves as director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona.
As a practicing physician, Weil says “I felt compelled to follow my own path.”
His most recent book is “Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being.”
Weil, who is now 65 years old, views aging as a natural part of life that can be active, productive, and satisfying.
Among Weil’s examples are his mother, who died at age 93; and the centenarians described in “The Okinawa Program: How the World’s Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health—And How You Can Too.”
Weil says societal beliefs and attitudes about aging work against healthy, vibrant aging. He urges his readers to develop healthier perspectives.
Weil doesn’t subscribe to the concept of “anti-aging” or the view that we can reverse the physical changes that come with growing older. The process of aging is a biological fact—and you can’t turn back the clock.
Instead, he consciously embraces his own aging.
“I hardly notice my aging on a day-to-day basis. When I look in the mirror in the morning, my face and white beard seem the same as the day before. But in photographs of myself from the 1970s, my beard is completely black.
“If I pay attention, I can notice other changes in my body: more aches and pains, less resilience in meeting the challenges of travelling.”
He admits that “aging can bring frailty and illness. But it can also bring depth and richness of experience, complexity of being, serenity, wisdom, and its own kind of power and grace.”
“I do believe we can age with grace, and that we should do everything in our power to delay the onset of age-related disease, discomfort, and loss of vigour.”
Weil recommends a mix of traditional and alternative things you can do to keep your mind and body in good working order, including regular exercise, proper nutrition, supplements, stress-reduction measures, meditation, breathing exercises, rest, spiritual practices, interesting activity, and attitude.
So no matter what your age, why not begin maximizing your health and well-being today.
Reject the concept of “anti-aging.” Follow Weil’s recommendations and challenge societal beliefs and attitudes about aging healthy. Don’t think of yourself as old, but rather as a healthy vibrant person.
And most important of all, focus not on “living longer,” but “living better.”
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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