Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Successful Aging

What does aging successfully look like? For me, it means being able to stay active, engaged and healthy until the end. Fantasy? Impossible? High unlikely, you say?

Actually, according to a massive multi-disciplined study sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, it’s not far-fetched. John W. Rowe, M.D. and Robert L. Kahn, Ph.D. document the study and results in the book Successful Aging. This is easy reading and very informational, designed to change our ideas about what aging is all about.

The primary conclusions are the older we get, the less genetics plays a role and the more environment and lifestyle choices matter. That’s the good and bad news. You can’t just blame your parents any more. I think we have to tread carefully not to blame the victim, but we have control over our aging.

Another important finding is the body starts to repair itself immediately from poor choices. I was a smoker most of my adult life. In the ten years since I quit smoking, my chances of getting heard disease and stroke have diminished to the same as someone who never smoked. If I survive another five years of not getting lung cancer, my chances of getting it the future are the same as someone who never smoked.

No matter what you’ve done, you get a second chance. That’s certainly not permission to make poor choices, just because you can reverse the effects. However, since most of us have eaten poorly, and over indulged in many substances through the years, it’s nice to know you can start right now to make positive changes.

The most important thing you can do, besides quitting smoking if you still do, is to get off the couch and start moving, according to the study. It’s more important to get exercise than what you eat, or drink. Physical activity helps your body, your mental functioning, and you emotional well-being. You can start small and whatever changes you make, will have a positive impact on your life.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who is making the transition into elderhood, however you define it. I guarantee you’ll learn something that you can easily implement into you life to enhance you aging successfully.

1 comment:

Rhea said...

I'm going back to the gym next week after a three-year hiatus.