If you look closely at a portrait of America, you’ll see heavy lines on her aging face. The senior population is estimated to double by the year 2025. Seniors will outnumber teenagers for the first time in history. Even so, the perpetual search for the “fountain of youth” goes on, and the passion to stay forever young is idealized.
There is unequivocal consensus amongst leading health experts–the key to improving quality of life and longevity is a healthy marriage of diet and exercise.
Dr. Miriam Nelson, researcher on aging at Tufts University in Boston, states a profound truism. “Being fit is one of the most potent protectors of health. Much of what we associate with aging is actually a culmination of a lifetime of inactivity and poor nutrition.” Yes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of doctor bills.
Foremost health and nutrition educator, Jean Carper, observes that the cost of needless aging is enormous both in skyrocketing health bills and individual suffering.
Adaptive Physical Educator, Dr. Karl Knopf, makes the sage observation that seniors worst fear is not of dying, but rather of losing their independence. He offers the truism: “Everything that gets worse with age gets better with exercise.” Fondly remembered fitness veteran Jack La Lanne agreed, “you don’t get old from calendar years, you get old from inactivity. That is the killer.” His ongoing legacy is potent testimony of these truths.
The inevitable process of aging can be postponed and the deterioration halted. “We know how to stop some of that damage, and preserve or restore youthful functioning even late in life.” Again, Jean Carper is right on track. It is possible to add decades of youthful vitality to our life spans.
For example, to avert bone and muscle mass loss as we age, a healthy diet and exercise is crucial. Women are especially vulnerable to osteoporosis. Calcium intake is imperative to prevent future bone fractures. Many teenage gals consume less than 75% of needed calcium, and as adults consume only about two-thirds of their needed calcium. After age 40, bone mass is lost at an average of 1-3% per year. Women are 50% likely to have an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime. This trend could be averted by dietary changes and consistent weight-bearing/resistance exercise, which retards loss, or increases bone mass.
In similar fashion, exercise and proper nutrition prevents muscle loss. After age 25, unless preventative measures are taken, we lose muscle mass at a half-pound average annually. This spurs metabolism slowing and weight gain. Strength training is vital to maintaining and increasing muscle mass. Many studies affirm significant gains to previously sedentary adults. Any activity is a beginning, even walking in and around the house.
So do we have to succumb to walkers, clogged arteries, high blood pressure and failing memory? Much of our suffering is needless. There are tools to undoubtedly increase our odds of living life to its fullest. Why not add years to your life, and life to your years? The time to begin is now.