Aging Myth I
As long as I can remember, most people have seemed to believe that bad health and dementia occur naturally as a part of aging. In recent years, medical science has proven that is not the norm. (1) When people believe that ill health is inevitable, they develop a doomsday way of thinking and refuse to make an effort to do anything that’s the least bit uncomfortable. They think that if their demise is inevitable, then they might as well take the path of least resistance and give in to every craving. They begin to think of their lives as one big buffet. Exercise is reserved to fetch the remote off the top of the T.V. Fast muscle loss and an ever-expanding waistline is the ultimate result of such thinking. Along with a decline in physical health comes possible blood sugar fluctuations, and all too soon, mental decline may be soon to follow. Dementia has been called Type 3 diabetes partially because of the impaired blood flow in the brain with diabetes and also because the gene, APOE4 which is considered the Alzheimer’s gene, also seems to interfere with the brain’s ability to use insulin properly. (3) There is no evidence that dementia is a normal part of the aging process.
The odds of developing any disease increases with time. That’s simple logic. However, the odds of developing all diseases, including mental disabilities, skyrockets with bad health habits. Obesity is associated with a minimum of 60 other related medical problems. (4) This is a statistic that stands independent of age. There are much more dangerous conditions than aging.
Aging is not a disease.
Aging Myth II
I will never understand how the lie started that you can’t build muscle at any point in your life. The lie that you can’t build muscle after 40 or 50, or whatever random age the myth perpetuates, is all too common. You can build muscle over 50. I recently watched a You Tube video of a man at 92, who is still building muscle mass consistently. I believe that the truth is that since it is more difficult to build muscle as we age, then most people aren’t willing to do the hard work required to do it. Talk to your doctor and get his recommendation for muscle building and then DO IT! Nothing works unless you do.
The Most Important Part
Healthy nutrition is paramount throughout life, but it is critical for healthy aging. We may get away with poor food choices for many years but as our mitochondria, the energy producers of our cells, begin to slow down, our nutrition simply must be ideal if we want to thrive. The mitochondria make our ATP, the energy that fuels our brain. Over time, natural mutations can occur in the mitochondria which may lead to decreased efficiency. Ideal nutrition is thought to increase the efficiency of the mitochondria, especially during critical illness. As we age and we are affected with an increased number of exposures to various illnesses and disease-causing elements in our environment, nutrition is increasingly important. Physical and cognitive function is enhanced by efficient functioning of the mitochondria that is the result of good nutrition. Although some people might see strength training as the most important part of an anti-aging program, I will always believe that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.
Exercise burns excess calories, conditions muscles and fights depression. Excess calories add inches of fat around your middle and everywhere else. Belly fat has it’s own hazards that may be associated with elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone and we don’t need more of it than necessary. While chronic stress elevates cortisol levels which in turn increase belly fat, the causes of the increased cortisol may play a part in the known hazards of excess abdominal fat. Heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, Type 2 diabetes and asthma are all associated with excess belly fat. Since cortisol is a stress hormone designed to get us through stressful situations, it’s easy to see how too much of this powerful chemical can cause problems. This is one reason that we teach, “Make Your World Small”. Less chaos, less stress, less cortisol. Exercise also helps metabolize cortisol, making it’s negative impact in the body less damaging.
Strength training is considered the fountain of youth. Along with streamlining your physique, strength training enhances the function of every system in the body. Muscle has been classified as a gland that is part of the endocrine system which means that it is not only a support structure for your musculoskeletal system. It is involved in all biochemical processes in your body including immunity. The endocrine system is an ocean of hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters that regulate life itself. Muscle is necessary for life.
The cult of bodybuilding that resorts to drugs, and other unhealthy practices, does not contribute to longevity. The lifestyles of those who resort to any lengths to build muscle strictly for a look are not healthy lifestyles. I am a bodybuilder but only in the non-competitive, healthy sense of the word. Those who use performance enhancing drugs are shortening their lives. It’s that simple. Muscle that is built by healthy practices of good nutrition, rest and strength training is the health powerhouse that will add years to your life and life to your years.
While the barbell is my favorite equipment for muscle building, you can use your body weight to perform calesthenics. You might favor resistance bands, kettle bells or a cable system. See your doctor to decide what type of strength training is best for you and get with the program.
Rest for Healthy Aging
Inadequate sleep has been linked to the onset of dementia. (6) While it’s tempting to burn the candle at both ends when you have the energy to do so, you need your rest! Arrange your life around your sleep schedule and you will be shocked at how much more productive you will be, how much better you will feel and how much healthier you will be overall. Lack of sleep raises your cortisol levels and then we’re right back to increased belly fat and all of the health woes that go with it. If you have trouble sleeping, see your doctor and work with him until you can get some sleep.
Stay Engaged with Your Passion
Decide what you are interested in and pursue it. I am a nurse by profession but health and fitness is my passion. That’s why I spend countless hours writing here on the website and making videos on our You Tube channel. By pursuing my passion, I have learned how to build a website, a You Tube channel and have discovered reams of recent research on health, fitness and weight loss. I am also obsessed with repping well. I must live the part of a health and fitness expert to be able to help others. By following my passion, I keep my mind engaged and my body healthy and strong. Keeping your mind keen is critical to healthy aging and thriving as you age. It’s amazing how far you will go to learn something new when you are truly interested in it.
Start now and be proactive in your health and you will be amazed at how rich and rewarding your life can be. The years that you thought would be less than stellar can be the best time of your life.