#110 Also known as Aging Well
In the early 90s, Dan had successful angioplasty. When he got home from the hospital, he threw out the potato chips, ice cream, red meat, and desserts in the kitchen and decided to exercise more. He was not going through that again! It was a life-changing experience for us.
I was already cutting back on junk food and exercising more often, but he saw no need - until he did. Beginning that day, no more hamburgers or hot dogs, fried or fast foods, and donuts - but lots more salads, fruit, and low-fat foods.
In our early 50s, we began walking, then running a couple of miles a day before work, and competing in 5K races on the weekend - we didn’t win, but it was a great way to exercise. My favorite race was the Wharf to Wharf from Santa Cruz to Capitola in California. It was challenging, but six miles running along the Pacific Ocean, bands playing, and people cheering was exhilarating.
As it turns out, we were accidentally choosing to age well. Dan’s surgery set the stage for 30 years of healthy living.
We didn’t know that
your genes determine your longevity, but genetics account for a maximum of 30 percent of your life expectancy. The rest comes from your behaviors, attitudes, environment, and a little bit of luck.
The only proven way to live longer is to live a healthy life.
Or, as the article What’s the Difference Between Aging and Longevity? says
living longer and living more years looking and feeling youthful and disease-free are not the same. Although our life expectancies are getting longer, people spend more years with age-related chronic diseases. We are not necessarily getting more years of vitality and good health but instead are getting to experience more years of illness.
Experience tells me that it’s best to begin making healthy choices sooner rather than later, or if they aren’t currently in place to begin now.
We unintentionally made good choices - healthy eating, no smoking, little drinking, and daily exercise. However, if I had to do it over, I would make conscious choices with the future in mind.
The purpose of this article is to encourage everyone to consider making a longevity plan that provides strategies for aging well beyond the traditional retirement age.
The choices were easier for us - we had no chronic or terminal illnesses to manage and we were doing it together. My widowed friend has had MS for years. Without a doubt, her health issues make the path more challenging. Yet, she goes to exercise class, pilots her tugboat, enjoys life, and listens to her body when it says she’s overdoing - aging well within her health confines.
People can’t change what they didn’t do, but they can start now.
Ways for lengthening longevity are well known, and I generally follow them.
I’ve walked for years, but recently I added a stretching program to my routine - 20 minutes before breakfast.
Eat a healthy diet.
I like the Mediterranean diet, so I eat lots of vegetables, salads, fish, nuts, grains, and less bread, sugar, and pasta.
Don't smoke or use tobacco.
I never started - fortunately. My parents smoked, and it contributed to their deaths.
Keep your brain active.
I write the newsletter, am a lifetime learner, and play word games.
Be good to yourself.
That one needs work.
Drink only in moderation if you drink alcohol.
I have a glass of wine daily.
If you aren’t exercising - you can begin gently, in consultation with your doctor or exercise coach. If you are a smoker or drink too much, find ways to cut back. There are many ways to keep your brain active - learn a new language or play a musical instrument. If you know how to be good to yourself - let me know.
Easy for me to say, but much more challenging to do. The bottom line - its a choice - do I want to age well vibrantly or struggle with various illnesses? Do I want to stay the course and get the most out of life or settle for less?
What works for me may not work for you - you will have your own path. But you also have choices to make.
Articles I wanted to share with you are
Aging is a Verb - and “and active is better than passive.”
Review.Reject.Rejoice “What is the one pursuit, the one passion, that without, you simply wouldn't feel whole?
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So grateful that I jumped on this bandwagon pre-Covid and that I have made conscious choices to continue cycling 3x a week, lifting weights, and eating well. I got sober 15 years ago, so blessedly, alcohol is on the back burner (and I pray it stays there!). Thanks for another great piece of writing, Janice.
Stretching changes lives ;) And yoga too!