Ask any of your friends and colleagues if they think aging is something that can be controlled and most will say that nothing can be done about it, that it simply happens and that’s that.
By now you will know that my answer to that is that they are wrong. We may be lucky in having good, long life genes but the choices we make throughout our lives have a much greater impact than the genes we have been dealt.
We know that our bodies are continuously replacing cells and that billions of cells are turned over daily. And for this reason we need to be careful of the lifestyle choices we make. As much as possible, we need to ensure that those choices are good and healthy ones because the renewal process works best if we provide the proper nutrients.
Added to this healthy lifestyle of exercise, what, how and when we eat, is the ever-present matter of our mind.
We now know that along with this cell regeneration our brain cells also can regenerate. Much research has led to this discovery and many learned papers have been written on the subject.
I have no formal medical degree; no degree in neurology and would not presume to discuss this in detail but I am convinced that we can halt the deterioration of our mind, by simply taking care not to let our mind lie idle for any length of time.
My father at age 80 was diagnosed with macular degeneration and was told that he would inevitably go blind. Now he was one of that older generation used to fending for himself. He did the crossword everyday without fail and as soon as discovered he had this condition he set about (with the help of my sister) training himself to do the crossword even though he would be unable to read the clues or see how the words fitted in. To do this he would have my sister read the clues and over time became quite adept at completing the crossword.
You see, he had seen how the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease had robbed my mother of the use of her mind and was determined that it wouldn’t happen to him. I am pleased to report that when he eventually left this earth at age 97 he was in total control of all his faculties.
So here was another example of what I should do with the rest of my life.
There is a difference between our chronological age and our biological age. Chronological age is determined by calculating the years between the date of our birth and now; biological age is calculated by how old we are perceived to be. This is based on how we appear, feel and act. Unfortunately, these age barometers are not often in step.
I certainly don’t feel 72 (my chronological age) and according to those around me I don’t act that age. So let’s see what we can do to improve our biological age while ignoring our chronological one.
Have you heard of Mavis Lindgren? She is the 90-year-old marathon runner. She retired in 1997 after running her 75th marathon. This from Patrick Roden, A critical care nurse, who was a medical volunteer at the Portland Marathon of 1992 when he came to the aid of the celebrated 85-year-old marathoner, Mavis Lindgren
“What makes her story all the more exceptional to me is that at age 62, Mavis was leading a sedentary life, spending most of time reading, writing and knitting. She had suffered four bouts of pneumonia in five years and, as a retired nurse, she knew the antibiotics weren’t the long-term solution. Something had to change. A doctor urged her to join an early bird walking group. At age 70, encouraged by her son, she ran her first marathon! Two years later, she established a record of 4:33.05, and for the next eight years, held world’s best time for women 70 and over. And at 84 she finished the Los Angeles marathon in 6 hours 45 minutes-the fastest woman in her age category. “After I started running, I never had another cold,” she said”
I am not suggesting that we all become marathon runners, but I do suggest that we take time to look at our sedentary lives and introduce a little exercise into them.