Home' Be : Issue 10 Contents I love cartoons that philosophise on life. The Wizard from Id has a great quote on aging: I'm not as young as I u sed to be, but I'm
sure not as old as I'm going to be! Aging is inevitable, but what does research say are the secrets to successful aging? Below is a
summary of what the research has found.
1. Regular exercise. For years we've known that active people
live longer tha n people who live a sedentary lifestyle.
American scientist Ralph Paffenberger has followed
17,000 former Harvard University graduates over 40 years.
He suggested that burning up more than 8.4 megajoules
(2,100 calories) per week in physical activity (walking burns
up 0.08 calories per minute per kilogram, r unning at 8km/
hr about 0.2 calories per minute per kilogram) lowered
the death rate by 25 -- 30% compared to those who did little
exercise. The active graduates lived over two years longer
and had a much better quality of life. Most researchers
agree that the more "vigorous" the physical activity, the
lower the death rate.
2. Control body weight. An accumulation of body fat directly
affects health and the risk of chronic disease. In laboratory
rats, life span has been increased by dietary restriction
and death rates increased by increasing body fat levels. In
humans, taller and thinner people tend to live longer than
shorter muscular people.
3. Sleeping 7 -- 8 hours a night. Older adults sleep about 20
minutes less than middle-aged adults, who slept 23 minutes
less than young adults. A good night's sleep enables the
body's repair and regeneration processes to be ma ximised.
4. Limiting alcohol intake. Drinking to excess ha s a negative
effect on the normal age-related deterioration in liver and
heart functioning. A longitudinal study of longevity in
Russian workers showed that the life expectancy of a heavy
drinking group dropped from 65 years to 59 years in men
and 74.8 to 73.2 years in women.
5. Don't smoke. Regular smoking has been shown to
shorten life expectancy in males by eight years and
females by five years. Increasing physical activity levels
in smokers improves longevity but to a much smaller
extent than non-smokers.
6. Eat breakfast and snack seldom. Research confirms the
saying "breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine
like a pauper" -- at least when it comes to losing weight.
Research has shown that eating a breakfast high in protein
and carbohydrates helps to lose fat weight and thus decrease
the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Small snacks
rather than large meals have also been shown to enhance
7. Manage stress levels. Psychologicalstress hasbeen shown
to be conclusively linked to longevity. The frequency and
severity of adverse life events, level of exter nal support,
individual coping skills and level of external resources will
affect the stress response.
8. Become more educated. Researchers continue to find that
those who keep their minds engaged in active education live
longer and stave off the ravages of aging, such as memory
loss and lethargy.
9. Stay socially connected. Science has shown that social
isolation has a significant impact upon mental a nd physical
health, and should be classed among smoking and obesity
as a major risk factor to health.
10. Maintain optimism and happiness. Dutch scientists
recently interviewed approximately 1,00 0 men and women
between the ages of 65 and 85 about health, self-respect,
morale, optimism, contacts, and relationships. They
concluded that those who had reported higher levels of
optimism were 55 percent less likely to die from any cause
and 23 percent were less likely to die from a heart-related
illness as compared to the pessimistic group. Other
research has concluded that increased levels of exercise,
social engagement, and a positive mental attitude predict
better cognitive and physical functioning in both older and
younger people. This suggests that getting together with
friends while engaging in physical activity seems to provide
"double bonus points" of protection against physical and
In summary, the research says that to age successfully, we need
to stay active, eat healthily to maintain a healthy body weight,
look at life through a glass half-full philosophy, stay socially
connected, don't smoke and keep educating ourselves. •
Be: Sport & Health
Peter Reaburn is an Associate
Professor in Exercise and Sports
Science at CQUniversity. He
recently completed a book titled
The Masters Athlete, available at the
CQUniversity bookshop or online at:
Sport scientist Dr Peter Raeburn's
shares his top ten tips to keep ahead
of the game
AGING IS INEVITABLE, BUT
WHAT DOES RESEARCH
SAY ABOUT SECRETS TO
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