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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Defy Aging - Keep Moving and Stay Hungry

First posted on my sixtieth (or is that fortieth?) birthday, 01-29-12. Updated periodically:

60 is the new 40. 50 is the new 30. I've even seen a proclamation that 80 is the new 30!

Such declarations about this new "age" can be seen everywhere. Are they simply age denial? Do baby-boomers refuse to grow old? And is this denial just a way to lie about our age? Will lying to ourselves help us live longer? Maybe.

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 1950s, 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."

The internet is full of such dramatic results, so how does one gain the benefit?  A few simple things make most of the difference.

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.

Keep Moving

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?

“You don’t deteriorate from age, you age from deterioration.” - Joe Weider 

Stay Hungry

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. On the other hand, if you eat only what you need, you'll 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. This is an important hint. When the meal becomes less compelling, stop eating. I know it's easier to say than do for a number of reasons. But 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. Still, it's easier said than done.

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. Food is everywhere you turn. There's now even a snack bar at our local DMV. People seem to eat every hour or two. And they eat more than they did a hundred years ago. There's just too much food in our cage. Fortunately, our body is smart enough to send most of those extra calories right down the toilet. But not all of them. Over time, even a few extra calories a day will add to your waistline.

You can use an internet calculator to find how many calories you need per day. You can tell if the number's right by how hungry you are at the end of the day:

Calorie Calculator

Once you know this number, slowly decrease intake until you find that edge between hunger and health. This should become your average consumption target. Avoid grazing. Eat at appointed times, and only planned amounts. Take some of that food out of your virtual cage. And as you decrease volume, increase variety. That's the key to good nutrition.

Another trick is micro-fasting. If you know you'll be having a large dinner, skip lunch. Sure, you'll be hungrier than usual and probably eat a bit more at dinner, but you're already a few hundred calories under your target. Just don't stuff yourself. Keep your AVERAGE consumption just below your need. Take your time losing those extra pounds. We are each the summation of what we do and what we eat.

"Staying hungry" will also improve the quality of experience for your other appetites. From sex to alcohol, to Netflix, less can be more if you hone your appetite with a bit of moderation. Find the "sweet spot" and stay hungry in all respects.

Live Longer

If it's that simple, why are only a few truly healthy? It's obvious not everyone is gaining these extra years. Not surprisingly, access to excess noted above 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 this 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. A minority eat less and lead more active lives. What's truly amazing is that this minority is still able to skew the average lifespan upward, while the bulk of America is killing themselves early. That's why 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.

"Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears." - John Lennon

Even more data:

Consistent with the social bifurcation of watching diet and exercise:

05-08-17 Life expectancy gap between rich and poor US regions is 'more than 20 years'

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

Another example in progress:

02-22-18 Venezuelans report big weight losses in 2017 as hunger hits

06-10-13 Cause or effect?  Fast walkers stay ahead of the game

01-15-15 More data:

Daily walk adds years to your life: Just 20 minutes a day is enough

04-21-15 Or is an hour a day the sweet spot?

The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life

01-20-16 Here's an interesting idea that fits in with the work I've been doing on neuroscience and behavior:

The Hunger Mood

04-09-17 Interesting meta-collection: Peaking

06-08-17 Longevity Illustrator

07-17-18 Think Yourself Young

11-08-18 Dutchman, 69, brings lawsuit to lower his age 20 years

01-17-19 This Is How To Have A Long Awesome Life: 7 Secrets From Research

04-22-19 Effective Microfasting

10-25-19 Five Myths About Again

01/13/20 Lee Schonberg Index

02-02-20 When Does Someone Become "Old"?

03-29-20  The number of steps per day, not speed, is linked to mortality rate

05-05-20 A fairly obvious filtering of the healthiest, but still deaths were associated with how MANY steps taken and not how fast they were taken:

More Steps Per Day Linked to Lower Mortality Risk

Taking more steps per day is associated with lower all-cause mortality risk, according to an observational study in JAMA.
Roughly 4800 adults aged 40 and up participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) wore accelerometers on their hips during waking hours for 7 days. During a mean 10 years' follow-up, 24% died. The unadjusted all-cause mortality rates were:

77 per 1,000 person-years for those who took less than 4000 steps per day;
21 per 1,000 for 4,000–7,999 steps;
7 per 1,000 for 8,000–11,999 steps; and
5 per 1,000 for 12,000 steps and above.
In adjusted analyses, people who took 8,000 steps per day had lower all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality than those who took 4,000 steps. Faster walking speed was not associated with lower mortality after adjusting for total daily steps.

09-21-20 Older People Have Become Younger

03-31-22 10,000 Steps? Or will 8,000 do? It apparently depends on your age.