Tag Archives: aging

Which Affects Longevity More, Fitness Or Fatness?

For longevity, fit trumps fatTo live a long life, which do you think is more important, keeping your weight down or your fitness up?

According to a recent study that was done at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health and published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, fit trumps fat as far as longevity is concerned.

In the study, those who maintained or improved their fitness level were less likely to die from heart attack or stroke, or anything else for that matter, than those whose fitness level dropped over time. And that was true even if their weight increased.

Stated from the other point of view, participants whose fitness declined were more likely to die than those whose weight increased over time.

According to fitness experts, such as the World’s Greatest Personal Trainer, my wife Kathie Lamir, there are 7 components of fitness.

This study focused on the fitness component of cardiorespiratory endurance.

cardiorespiratory enduranceTo measure endurance, the scientists gave each participant a series of treadmill tests over the course of the study.

In addition to the overall fitness-is-more-important-than-fatness conclusion, the doctors learned something else that is very important.

Every little bit helps!

That is, each increase in endurance level resulted in a lower risk of death.

Conversely, the men who grew less fit were more likely to die from any cause.

The new findings validate previous studies on the health benefits of fitness, says American Heart Association spokesman Richard Stein, M.D. He is the director of the Urban Community Cardiology Program at the New York University School of Medicine. “Fitness is a much greater predictor of [death] than weight,” Stein says.

“If you have been struggling with your weight for years, putting your work into endurance fitness is clearly a very powerful predictor of living longer,” he says.

Here”s the point: For many, increased endurance is not only an easier goal to attain than weight loss but is also pays greater dividends.

For longevity, fitness trumps fatnessThe test subjects were all average weight at the outset of the study. Therefore, without further testing, the doctors are not sure whether the results apply to obese people, too.

What about naturally thin people?

As for them, Dr. Stein says, “don’t fool yourself into thinking, ‘I am skinny and will be fine if I don’t do any exercise.’ You won’t be. Being [inactive] is not OK, even if you are skinny.”

As is often the case when I report on health studies, the takeaway is that, for a long and healthy life, you must stay active and maintain or increase your fitness level over time.

Your Attitude About Aging Affects How You Age

John TurnerIf I ask you to think about the “elderly” or “senior citizens,” what comes to mind?

You probably think about such physical characteristics as wearing dentures, glasses and hearing aids, moving slowly, having gray or white hair. You might also think about such things as bingo, Early Bird Specials, cautious driving, forgetfulness, old-fashioned ideas and unwillingness to try anything new.

All of these are common stereotypes about older people.

Of course, if you assume what a particular senior is like based on a stereotype, and don’t look at that person as an individual, you are likely to be wrong.

The lazy mental habit of making assumptions based on negative stereotypes is always a problem. But stereotypes about older people can cause another, even bigger problem.

The problem occurs when seniors, themselves, believe the stereotypes.

If seniors believe they are limited simply because of their age, this attitude can become their reality . . . even when it doesn’t have to be. If they think old people are, for example, cranky or afraid of new ideas, they are more likely to conform to those perceptions.

How do I know?

Because of research done at Tufts University and reported in the Psychology Today blog on November 20, 2011.

In this research, a group of 70-year-olds did not perform as well on memory tests as a group of 19-year-olds.

That probably does not surprise you.

But you may be surprised, or even shocked, by the next finding.

When the exact same test was performed by other groups of 19-year-olds and 70-year-olds, the results were indistinguishable. Both groups performed equally well on the memory test!

What was the difference? Was the second group of 70-year-olds particularly smart, had they been taking some memory-enhancing supplement, did they cheat?

No, no and no.

Here’s the difference. In the second test, the participants were not told it was a memory test. (Instead, they were told that it was a test of some other capacity.)

That’s right. When the 70-year-olds did not know they were participating in a memory test, their memories were just as good as those of the 19-year-olds.

Without the limiting mindset that they were performing a memory test – and we all know that seniors have poor memories, right – the seniors remembered just as well as the college-age participants.

These test results suggest that what goes on in your head shapes how aging will impact you. Our stereotypes about what it means to grow old contribute to our actual experiences of growing old.

So, as we say here at Forever Young Blog, stay positive!

[BTW, the photo is of 67-year-old John Turner who obviously is not limited by negative stereotypes about senior fitness.]

Laugh Your Way To A Longer, Healthier Life

Humor
Humor

Humor can extend and enhance your life. All the studies show that.

So, be sure to laugh every day, as often as you can.

Look for things to laugh at. Search out humor. See the humorous side of things.

I’ll try to help by posting some of my favorite knee-slappers in the Stay Positive Category. Be sure to comment and add your favorites, too.