First posted on 01-29-12:
60 is the new 40. 50 is the new 30. I've even seen a proclamation that 80 is the new 30!
There's been lots of interesting research about the placebo effect in all its forms. What's interesting is, placebos seem to work even when the patient KNOWS it's a placebo. And how is lying about your age different from giving yourselves a placebo?
Unfortunately, the placebo effect will not solve everything. There are still some hard facts in this new age of aging. Since the Kellogg brothers made health a popular topic at the beginning of the last century, thousands of treatments have been tried in an attempt to stay younger. Most have been proven to be worthless, but a few obviously make a difference:
"Today, the average age for someone moving into a nursing home is 81. In the 1950's, it was 65."
"People are living 34 years longer than their great-grandfathers."
"The number of people in the world over 100 years old is now approaching half a million."
Avoiding tobacco and limiting solar exposure is good for the skin. The guy to the left was a life-long truck driver. He's obviously not British. Tobacco has a similar effect but to all of your skin.
Appearance aside, the most important factors in staying young are still diet and exercise, so keep moving and stay hungry.
Whether you are overweight, have chronic pain, arthritis, dementia, depression, diabetes, anxiety or fatigue there is one piece of advice that will improve your quality and length of life - "Keep Moving". What's surprising is how this advice not only affects the physical but also your mental health.
ANY physical activity that keeps you moving for at least 30 minutes a day, EVERY day will make a huge difference. That "every day" is the hard part. Success starts with finding something you enjoy. It can be yoga, swimming or walking. Start slowly and work your way up. Even if it takes a year to do 2 miles a day, after that you've gained 80% of the benefit of exercising in general. The second, fifth and seventeenth years are much easier. The best exercise is the one that you DO, so it's probably the one you enjoy most. Find your favorite way to move.
Here is the best summary I've found on the topic, graphically presented. If you do nothing else about your health this year, at least spend nine minutes watching this video. It may add years to your life:
23 and 1/2 Hours : What is the Single Best Thing You Can Do For Your Health?
The meaning is obvious. The trick is to not stay TOO hungry. Just like the exercise part, if you take it to the point of pain you're more likely to return to your old lifestyle. If on the other hand, if you eat only what you need, you not only stay lean and healthy, you'll enjoy life more.
Have you noticed how much better food taste when you're hungry? Well, at least the first few hundred calories, which is an important hint. When the meal becomes less compelling, stop eating. If you eat just 100 calories less than you burn each day, you'll lose 12 pounds a year - that's hard science, and it's major progress. The trick is finding how many calories you really NEED - it's probably a lot less than you think. That's because we're used to eating about twice as much as we require. Fortunately, our body is smart enough to allow most of those extra calories to go down the toilet, but this makes it hard to judge that "just enough" point.
Start by quantifying your calorie consumption, then slowly limiting your intake until you find that edge between hunger and healthy. Then limit just a little more, and take your time losing the extra pounds.
"Staying hungry" will also improve the quality of experience for your other appetites. From sex to alcohol, less can be much more if you hone your appetite with a bit of moderation. Find the "sweet spot" and stay hungry in all respects.
If it's that simple, why is everyone not healthy? It's obvious not everyone is gaining these extra years. Not surprisingly, access to excess and electric grocery carts are the reasons. The majority of people today are actually shortening their lives with calories and the couch. Many are now dying YOUNGER than they would have a hundred years ago because of their default lifestyle. And more will follow them into the grave shortly. Just look around.
Our society has become bifurcated where most people (of all ages) default into less activity and consume more calories, and a minority eat less and lead more active lives. What is truly amazing, is that this minority is STILL able to skew the average increase in lifespan while the bulk of America is doing the opposite. So a healthy lifestyle may extend one's life even more than the averages indicate. If you live well, your chronological age may not matter as much as you think.
Misrepresenting your age may be a lie, but it's a lie worth living.
Even more data:
04-17-13 Here is a demonstrative meta-study of the effects of 50 calorie reduction per day for an entire country! Now if we could just learn to do that as individuals:
The Cuban diet: eat less, exercise more - and preventable deaths are halved
06-10-13 Cause or effect?
01-15-15 More data:
The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life
04-09-17 Interesting meta-collection: