Tag Archives: longevity

The Fun Factor: 12 Ways To Grow Younger As You Age

oldmengrooving_groupshot

Old Men Grooving – Britain’s Got Talent 2015 Semi-Finalists      (From left) Fred Folkes, Bret Jones, David Welch, Patrick Alan &                      Phil Stanley                                                                                                        

This video from the 2015 audition of the group “Old Men Grooving” (OMG) on Britain’s Got Talent is a hilarious viral Internet sensation with over 26 million views. OMG  has clearly become a cultural phenomenon.  We see this seemingly ordinary group of buttoned-up, cardigan-wearing gentlemen totally shatter traditional paradigms of aging in a very funny and inspiring way.

Rather than deliver the stodgy, dull and embarrassing performance obviously expected from the judges and audience, OMG breaks out with super slick and syncopated dance routines that show impressive agility and in-the-pocket coordination.  These gentlemen are clearly on a focused mission to enjoy themselves and to have fun.  Several comments by OMG members provide thoughtful insights about the group’s subliminal motivation:

  • David Welch, OMG choreographer stated,  “When you get to a certain age, you shouldn’t just be put in a corner and left to rot. You should be enjoying life and if you want to get up and feel the groove, then you should do that.” 
  • 60-year-old Phil Stanley recognized OMG for renewing his lease on life, “It’s more than just remembering the old days and the kind of people we were, it’s about remembering that we’re still that kind of person, despite age.”
  • Bret Jones stated, “The young men now are one day going to be old men. We want them as young men to have the mentality that they never have to stop. They should keep moving and keep developing.”
  • Fred Folkes, owner of a street dancing school stated,  “In a way, it is like reliving our youth. It’s bringing back something we did when we were very young just for fun. It’s bringing back the best times of our lives.”

The March 2016 Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a study entitled, Longitudinal Relationships between Caloric Expenditure and Gray Matter in the Cardiovascular Health Study” which evaluated 876 participants aged 65 and older.  Researchers concluded that increasing energy output from a variety of physical activities correlated to larger gray matter volumes in the brain.

These findings suggest that regardless of type or duration of exercise, caloric expenditure through physical activity may alone moderate neurodegeneration and may increase gray matter in the brain related to cognitive functioning. As life expectancy increases and health improves, the study implies that older people can increasingly engage in physical activities previously associated only with younger people.

Another collaborative study among several research institutions in Berlin evaluated 708 people aged 60 and older concluded that on average, 75-year-olds of today are much fitter, happier and more satisfied with their lives than 75-year-olds of twenty years ago.  The study attributes the gains to sociocultural factors such as education, in addition to increased well-being due to physical fitness and higher levels of independence in old age.

Key takeaways from scientific research are that people growing old today do not at all resemble seniors of earlier generations. Old age is getting younger.  Evidence is compelling.  Physical activity, mental acuity and emotional well-being combined together can greatly impact quality of life as we age.  It seems to me that  there is a holistic approach to meet an ideal lifestyle balance. Have fun. 

So following are twelve proposed ideas to have fun and grow younger as you age:

  1. Get Exercise. Make a habit every day of engaging in physical activity that you wildly enjoy–dance, walk, run, yoga, Pilates, swim, hike, bike, jump rope. Whatever you love, just do it. Keep moving.
  2. Cultivate Relationships with Family & Friends. Nurture those relationships with people who generate positive energy. Maintain social connections and interactions with others. It is vital to our long-term emotional health and intellectual well-being.
  3. Learn Something New. When we conquer a new challenge it provides a profound sense of gratification, reinforces our ability to grow and enhances our mental acuity. Take an online course, learn to play a new instrument, study a language, try a new recipe. Regularly challenge yourself to eliminate those mental cobwebs and experience perpetual thrills.
  4. Drink Red Wine.  Many research studies point to the extensive benefits of drinking red wine, in moderation, of course. Red wine has melatonin which helps regulate our body clock, resveratrol and other antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. From lowering cholesterol to fighting cancer, red wine is not only good for you, it is fun to consume.
  5. Have More Sex. Scientific research is abundantly clear. An active sex life as we age is essential for preserving vitality. On a regular basis, sex can extend longevity and release endorphins that act like natural painkillers.  Besides providing beneficial exercise, it also makes us very happy.
  6. Listen to Music.  Research has proven beyond doubt that music is a profound source of perpetual joy. Don’t wait, compose your favorite playlist and grab your iPod whenever you can.
  7. Get Plenty of Sleep. Benefits of sleep are well documented and expansive as well, from reducing stress and inflammation to improving memory and helping weight loss. Indulge yourself often and get plenty of sleep.
  8. Play Brain Games. Fun with brain games is indisputable.  Their intellectual benefits are abundant and they are insanely additive. Once you start, I promise, you’ll never stop.
  9. Smoke a Joint (only where legal, of course). In a recent New York Times article, Tom Huth stated, “I’m 74 years old, and I have smoked marijuana almost every day since dinosaurs roamed the earth in the early ’70s. When my awareness is heightened, I’m on my game — the best I can be at thinking creatively, making decisions, focusing on my work, seeing the big picture … and caregiving.  It’s the stoned state itself: that lyrical disorientation, that rush of wonder and possibility.” Thanks for the enlightenment, Tom!
  10. Indulge in Nature. Walk in the park. Tend to your garden.  Go to the beach. Bird watch. Catch  a sunrise. Or a sunset. Ponder a full moon. Whatever you do, make a habit of routinely connecting with nature.  You’ll soon be on your way to Nirvana.
  11. Cuddle an Animal. Without question, animals have healing powers. From lowering blood pressure to increasing our social interaction. Find a pet to love or schedule regular visits to your nearest animal shelter.  Your ‘ROJ’ (returns on joy) is guaranteed to be exponential.
  12. Escape with the Arts. Read a book. Watch a movie. Draw. Mix colors. Take photographs. Write poetry. Watch YouTube. See a play.  Let the creative wonder of the arts engulf you and carry you up, up and away.

In your fleeting time on earth make a simple vow each day: Have fun!

 

 

The Passion Phenomenon: Live Long, Be Happy

                           “…Keeps me living. Keeps me going.”

Beverly Guitar Watkins has lived her passion as a phenomenal, pioneer rhythm & blues guitarist for the last six decades.  Recognized as “Queen of the Blues”, Ms. Watkins continues to tour and play concerts at age 77. She provides an important inspirational lesson on longevity, quality of life and the pursuit of passion.

It is interesting to note that over the course of her lifetime, Ms. Watkins labored in some tough and physically demanding jobs cleaning houses and working car washes. Notwithstanding decades of bodily stress and toil, her hard classic blues style continued to evolve. Most importantly throughout her lifetime, Ms. Watkins never stopped the pursuit of her passion–music.

The pursuit of one’s passion has long been recognized as a driving force to lifelong happiness.  I recently learned of another life affecting derivative related to the pursuit of passion from a study published in the November 2015 Journal of Psychosomatic Research entitled, “Purpose in Life Predicts Allostatic Load Ten Years Later”.   The scientific term allostatic load” describes wear and tear on the body that occurs over time with exposure to chronic stress.

This study has significant implications to life span and quality of life. Greater life purpose predicted lower levels of allostatic load in 985 subjects evaluated at their ten-year follow-up.  Researchers concluded that living a purposeful life correlates to better mental and physical health including longevity.  Mounting evidence of these associations might be explained by the connection between life purpose and our body’s ability to regulate physiological systems related to stress response.

It makes infinite sense. As we pursue our passion, internal mechanisms mobilize our body’s ability to withstand exposure to chronic stress. In turn, our pursuit of passion drives sustainable happiness and reinforces our will to live.  Ms. Beverly Guitar Watkins is a brilliant example of the “Passion Phenomenon”.  Bottom line: Pursue your passion. Live Long. Be Happy.

“Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.  Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.  You are already naked.  There is no reason not to follow your heart.”  ~Steve Jobs

 

Common Habits of World’s Longest Living People

World's Oldest Living Person Ever

Longevity (noun) lon·gev·i·ty \län-ˈje-və-tē, lȯn-\                                             Definition: 1. a long duration of individual life; 2. length of life; 3. long continuance: permanence, durability.

Do you want to live forever?  For me, living a long life is meaningless without quality of life.  In her book entitled, “50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People”author Sally Bears explores five places in the world with the greatest number of centenarians, people living over 100 years, to find the common denominators of longevity plus  quality of life.  Not only are these the world’s oldest living people, most also report being happy, healthy,  productive and valued–until the day they die.

The five destinations of the world’s longest living people include Okinawa, a coral island in the East China Sea; Symi, an island in Greece; Campodimele, a village in southern Italy; Hunza, a valley in northwest Pakistan and Bama, a county in Southern China.  Environmentally, these locations share unpolluted surroundings which include pure drinking water, unpolluted soil and fresh air.  While this comes as no surprise, it underscores our collective priority to invest in the care of Mother Earth.

Bottom line, the recurring patterns of the longest living humans are profoundly eye-opening.  These common lifestyle habits cover a  spectrum of practical ways we can all extend both our longevity and quality of life.  Here are just some of the common traits of these centenarians:

  • Drink lots of green tea – like 4 cups/day
  • Get daily exercise – sweat everyday
  • Drink lots of mineral water
  • Eat tons of whole foods plants and nuts – like 90% organic vegetables
  • Limit consumption of sweet fruits – opt for berries, apricot and apricot kernels
  • Limit consumption of fish and meat – wild, cold-water fish and grain or grass-fed meat
  • Only eat until you’re 80% full
  • Chew your food for a long time
  • Practice moderation in alcohol consumption – red wine and Saki are best
  • Play mind games
  • Practice meditation
  • Enjoy music and humming
  • Practice deep breathing, reduce stress
  • Volunteer time to help others
  • Consume fermented foods like miso, sauerkraut
  • Consume seaweed, sprouts and nuts
  • Limit intake of dairy
  • Go light with oils; do consume olive oil
  • Sleep  for 8-9 hours each night
  • Practice laughing each day

And the fascinating list goes on. So, if you’re like me and seek a longer and happier life,  I highly recommend that you read 50 Secrets.  If you’re short on time, do check out this twenty-minute audio summary of the book by Tai Lopez.   Good stuff.

Our generation is uniquely well positioned to challenge the dreaded myths of aging. There are many ways to positively change our lifestyle habit for a longer and happier life.  Let us maximize whatever time remains and live to experience our best days that lie ahead.

Growing old is a beautiful thing.