How Important Is Lifestyle?

Extending Lives

By Ross Macdonald

Most of us are born with the potential to live a normal lifespan. What we do with and to ourselves in the ensuing years is our responsibility. The normal or convenient belief is that we have no control over risk factors or fate, and our ancestors have fixed us with a definite genetic makeup. However, research indicates that genes play a significant but much smaller role and lifestyle, a larger role. We determine our own fate throughout our entire life. Sickness is not a factor that has to occur in the elderly any more than loss of mobility. Our problem is that we did not know the benefits of exercise and nutrition years ago. There is no time like the present!

Medical research has developed a new perspective on aging. Illnesses associated with age have little to do with years or getting older and much more to do with the accumulation of hidden health violations made in your earlier years. Apparently, the experts are saying that despite the great health physical you just passed with flying colors, you may still be at serious risk for eventual illness. However, at any age you have more control over your health than you may think and your lifestyle is one of the most important (if not the most important) factors in your fate.

High blood pressure, increased blood sugar levels, and excess weight are not, according to many experts, a normal part of aging. They are a result of the past and a sure sign of impending problems. Even at a late age these conditions can be ameliorated by a change in lifestyle; your body is quite resilient and muscles have memories, so it takes work. Physical and mental control over your life can even help you live longer; it certainly makes it easier to do so. Whatever your age you are not too old to exercise. Remember: “If you do not have time for exercise then make time for illness.”

Fat and strong bones are at war with each other. Even when you exercise regularly, why don’t you lose fat? Look at how and what you eat. Processed and convenience foods have replaced raw foods. Fat free foods are not fat free to the extent you think. It still comes down to calories, the amount of sugar in your diet, and how efficient your metabolism is. If your metabolic rate burns all day, with regular small meals you will lose weight when combined with exercise. If it gets a big food splurge twice a day, it will turn your body into fat, exercise or not. It becomes impossible to lose weight under these circumstances. It is becoming very apparent that sugar and corn fructose are the main cause and these high sugar foods are the secondary cause of several illnesses. Even carrots and beets are fairly high in sugar.

Another old age problem is bone loss. We all know about 1,200-1,500 mg of calcium and 2-5,000 mg of vitamin D3 and should know about vitamin K and DHEA taken daily. By the time you are in your 40s you are probably losing more bone mass than you are growing. Any exercise will have a positive effect on bone density, but strength training yields the greatest results. A recent review of 22 well designed studies clearly showed the positive effects of weight training, particularly for the elderly and postmenopausal. These benefits are twofold:

1) Stronger muscles that provide stability and prevent falls

2) Stronger bones that resist fracture in the event of a fall.

It is so easy — all you need is the will to live.


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