I recently received one of the best compliments. A long-time member of our fitness center and Cooper Clinic patient, Fan Benno, wrote me a note after she won a 3,000 meter walking event for women over 85 years of age (she is 87). She wrote, "Because of you, Dr. Cooper, I forgot to grow old." Wouldn't it be nice if we could all forget to grow old?
Not a day goes by when we don't hear about another anti-aging strategy, or a new product or idea that claims to have found the "fountain of youth." No, there is not a magic pill that will instantly make you young, but there is a powerful weapon that when used consistently will let you live a long, full, healthy lifeexercise.
A favorite phrase of mine comes from legendary pitcher and humorist Leroy "Satchel" Paige: "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" I could fill pages with examples of people just like Fan who disregard the candles on their birthday cake. One is a 91-year-old man who performs frequently at Cypress Gardens in Florida, waterskiing barefoot on one foot while holding the handle in his mouth. It is impressive to see him whizzing by in all yellow, but even more amazing is that "Banana" George Blair did not start waterskiing until he was past 40 years of age. He even took up a new sport at the age of 75snowboarding.
"Banana" George is a perfect contradiction to the old adage, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Research shows that even moderate activity, when done regularly, can yield major health benefits at any age. The benefits include a reduced risk of chronicdiseases, improved mental health, and enhanced physical functioning. Most sedentary people, at any age, who add 30 minutes of physical activity to their day will decrease their body fat and see improvements in their blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood cholesterol. Exercise can counteract muscle weakness and frailty in older individuals, and it delays the onset of disabilities and life-threatening diseases.
I encourage everyone who reads Age Smart to look at the other examples of individuals who have not only defied the traditional definition of aging, but embraced a new definition. . . one that does not limit our physical and mental abilities simply by the advancing of years.
And remember, it is fascinating to know that one can grow healthier as one grows older and not necessarily the reverse. Who determines that? You do! To slow down the aging process, eliminate these things: cigarette smoking, inactivity, obesity, and (as much as possible) stress.
Finally, I wish you a long, healthy, and active life, and if you follow these recommendations, I can almost guarantee it.
Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D., M.P.H Founder, President, and CEO, Cooper Aerobics Center
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