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Thursday, November 15, 2007

More on Aging & Death-Exercise IS Medicine

Two days after I posted **"Running as Medicine for Elders-The Fifth Avenue Mile 2007 (11/5/07)", the usually excellent and widely read elderblog* 'Time Goes By' (Ronni Bennett) posted "On Fear of Aging and Death", which contained this quote--that MrKen took issue with--

**http://mrken45sworld.blogspot.com/2007/11/
running-as-medicine-for-elders-fifth.html


"A lot of people (boomers?) seem to be convinced that if they lift one more weight or run one more mile, they will never get old. Even if you don’t succumb to cosmetic surgery or spend too much money on expensive anti-aging creams that don’t work, there comes a day, I think, when it’s too much effort any longer to keep up the pretense."

"You realize that you do get tired more easily than your younger friends or something inside compels you to skip the daily workout in favor of a good book or those sexy high-heeled shoes hurt too much to wear today. That, my friends, is the beginning of accepting your age."

MrKen's comment (#21) was as follows:

Hi Ronni,

While I genuinely enjoy your blog , I strongly disagree with the following quote in your post 'On Fear of Aging and Death'--

"A lot of people (boomers?) seem to be convinced that if they lift one more weight or run one more mile, they will never get old. Even if you don’t succumb to cosmetic surgery or spend too much money on expensive anti-aging creams that don’t work, there comes a day, I think, when it’s too much effort any longer to keep up the pretense."

"You realize that you do get tired more easily than your younger friends or something inside compels you to skip the daily workout in favor of a good book or those sexy high-heeled shoes hurt too much to wear today. That, my friends, is the beginning of accepting your age."

This point of view strikes me as unnecessarily negative & fatalistic. Frankly, many of the bodily changes attributed to "aging" are really due to a premature deterioration on account of an increasingly unhealthy American lifestyle. Obesity and a sedentary existence have been increasingly linked to many diseases-- including various cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular ailments, as well as injuries and falls.

Because muscle mass, bone density & cardiovascular capacity can decline markedly as we age, exercise becomes an increasingly important tool to combat this lifestyle-related deterioration that is really PREMATURE aging. And regular aerobic exercise releases chemicals in the brain that act as natural antidepressants.

I think that it's also important to differentiate between silly & expensive 'cosmetic' attempts to forestall the aging process (like surgery & cremes) versus healthy and useful choices like aerobic exercise and a good diet.

I recently (11/5) posted "Running as Medicine for Elders-the Fifth Avenue Mile 2007" on my blog. Many in their 70's, 80's & even 90's (!) are happily doing competitive running (& other sports)--rather than unhealthily obsessing about their approaching demise. I hope you will get a chance to read it and I welcome your comments.

No, lifting one more weight or running one more mile will not prevent you from getting old. But you just might enjoy your 'golden years' a lot more!

Posted by: Ken on Nov 8, 2007 6:01:18 PM

A similar sentiment to that expressed in 'Time Goes By' seemed to be endorsed in the book "The Denial of Aging" (Perpetual Youth, Eternal Life, and Other Dangerous Fantasies"--Muriel R. Gillick, M.D.) {2006}.In fact, I wrote about some of the other interesting ideas discussed therein in my post on this blog, dated 5/23/07--but not this one (although I did mention the review):

A review on the back cover noted, " Finally, a book that tells the truth about aging, starting with the fact that eating right and exercising will not prevent it. Dr. Gillick provides a fascinating guide for the journey into old age, and shows us how to make the best of it. Boomers (and most other grown-ups) will find her book right on target."-- Marcia Angell, former Editor in Chief, New England Journal of Medicine, and author of "The Truth about the Drug Companies."

Notwithstanding the foregoing review, MrKen reiterates that eating right & exercising accomplishes the following:

1) Exercise counters depression, which recently has been identified in studies as a disease having more adverse effects on health & longevity than many serious physical diseases.

2) Aerobic exercise like jogging, swimming & tennis strengthen the heart & cardiovascular system, and may prevent the onset of diabetes and Alzheimers.

3) Weight training adds to bone mass, helping to prevent brittle bones from breaking in falls by frail elders--falls which have been indicated in adversely affecting longevity.

4) Enhances the quality of life.

Be forewarned--elders & near-elders may rationalize their laziness or fatalism all they want--but as you age you need to do MORE exercise than you did when you were younger--not less. Use it or lose it, as they say...

"At 20, one has the body he/she was born with--at 60, one has the body he/she deserves". -Anonymous

"Death is the enemy--the life cycle [is] completely unacceptable."...-Michael West, founder of Geron & a molecular biologist who is researching aging.


*To read the full post in 'Time Goes By' by Ronni Bennett, please follow this link: http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/2007/11/on-fear-of-agin.html#comments

To read my earlier post on the 'Denial of Aging' (5/23/07) please go here:
http://mrken45sworld.blogspot.com/2007/05/denial-of-aging-part-i.html







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