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 it's forms. What's interesting is, placebos seems to work even when the patient KNOWS it's a placebo. And how is lying about your age different from giving ourselves a placebo?
Unfortunately, the placebo effect will not solve everything. There are some hard factors in this new age of aging, no matter what number we admit to. 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 of them have been worthless, but a few have obviously made 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 our great-grandfathers."
The internet is full of such dramatic results. Avoiding tobacco and limiting solar exposure is good for the skin, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is good for nutrition, but by far the most important factors are diet and exercise. The rest don't matter much. Just 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. But that "every day" is the hard part. Success comes from finding something you enjoy. It can be yoga, swimming or walking a couple miles per day. Just start slowly and work your way up. Even if it takes a year to work up to 2 miles a day, after that you've gained 80% of the benefit of exercising in general. And the second, fifth and seventeenth year is easier.
Here is the best summary I've found on the topic:
The Single Best Thing You Can Do For Your Health
And here's another approach to the same conclusion:
Keep moving physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.
As for staying hungry, the meaning is obvious. But the trick is to not stay TOO hungry. Just like the exercise part, if you take it to the point of pain, your Id will push back and you're more likely to return to your old lifestyle. If on the other hand, you eat only what you need, you not only stay lean and healthy, you'll enjoy life more.
Have you noticed how if you stay hungry, food tastes SO much better? Well at least for 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 less than you think. Then take your time losing those pounds.
Staying hungry can 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.
The final way to stay hungry is to stay hungry for life. Live each day as if it's your last. One day it will be.
So if we have the answers why is everyone not healthy? It's obvious not everyone is gaining these extra years. Not surprisingly, access to excess and the electric grocery cart 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.
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, 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 much at all.
Life's third act
Misrepresenting your age may be a lie, but it's a lie worth living.
Run for your life – or at least to make it longer
Slate on Walking on Walking in America - see all four parts
04-17-13 Here is a most 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
"Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears." - John Lennon