When asked, I rarely tell people my age. Not that I mind people knowing how many birthdays I’ve had, but it seems to me that my chronological age doesn’t say much about me as a person.
My assessment is that my hair is the colour of a 70-year-old, I laugh like a 20-year-old, I have the eyes of an 80-year-old, and I have the mind of a 40-year-old.
So what age am I, anyway?
Age is relative! I have a very good friend who says she feels old, although she is closer to my daughter’s age than to mine. I, on the other hand, feel young.
Feeling “old” often has more to do with pain and chronic health problems than with the passing of years.
In their book “The Science of Staying Young,” gerontologist John Morley and exercise physiologist Sheri Colberg outline a 10-step program for staying young longer.
The pair say that just because your chronological age is going up, it doesn’t mean you have to give in to being “old.”
There are many things you can do to prevent, control, and even reverse chronic conditions that can cause you to lose your vitality and good health.
I personally loved this book, partially because I’m already doing some of the things they suggest, like eating dark chocolate (in moderation, of course) and going to the pool every day for water aerobics.
But there is a lot more to learn.
Step 1 is eating healthy. Consume lots of dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, olive oil, whole grains, nuts, yogurt, fish, garlic, onions, citrus fruits, bananas, blueberries, cranberries, sweet potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables.
Also use delicious spices for their health benefit, as well as for their flavour—cinnamon, ginger, thyme, cumin, oregano, basil, and turmeric.
Following the suggestion of the authors that readers should put what they learn into action as soon as possible, I made curried lentils for supper. The dish was surprisingly tasty and made me feel healthy.
Step 2, “Exercise for the elixir of eternal youth,” sets the stage for all the other steps. It not only is the longest chapter, but is referenced in most of the later chapters.
Exercise keeps your heart healthy. It also keeps your bones strong. Physical exercise, as well as brain exercise, lowers the risk of memory loss and depression.
Exercise helps control almost every chronic condition. And most important of all, it gives you energy to complete your daily tasks and have fun with family and friends.
There are five important types of exercise—aerobic, resistance, flexibility, posture, and balance. Balance is particularly important as you get older. The authors strongly suggest you practice standing on one leg, even if you have to hang on to the counter at first.
There are several pages illustrating which exercises are most useful for older people—exercises that strength-training classes at senior centres would offer.
Morley and Colberg also recommend more Spontaneous Physical Activity (SPA).
SPA counts as exercise. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Park a little further from your destination. Get up and move around every 30 minutes when sitting.
These are some of the healthy habits that can help you stay young longer. Which of them could you introduce to your daily routine today?
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.visit-snider.com
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