The Longest Generation Needs to Work It

Healthspan #151:

The Baby Boomer generation will never be called the “Greatest
Generation”. That title has already been grabbed deservedly by our
parents who endured the Great Depression and waged the last truly
necessary war. History is still out on us, but one thing is for
sure: we will be called the Longest Generation. “Egads!”is probably
the outcry from those of other vintages. “Not more of them!” Deal
with it. We are here to stay. But are we? Boomers, known for their
cockiness need to realize that we may have to work for our
longevity. Last week, in the online version of Healthspan, I began
a delineation of the 15 “longevity factors”, those choices that we
can make to live for the long run. I have saved the big guns for
the last. Learn to cope with stress. OK, so we all know this by
now. But just in case you need a a reminder, pay attention:
According to one report by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine,
modifying stress reduces one’s chance of cardiac events by a
significant 30 percent. ` The gold standard for longevity, our
centenarians haven’t been immune to life’s inevitable stresses but
what has distinguished them is their attitude. The New England
Centenarian Study shows that they are optimistic, use humor as a
way of dealing with life’s strangeness, take it all in stride and
are as dedicated to their mental and emotional health as much as
they are their physical health. Often these long lived folk are
without arrogance; they tend to be humble, gaining strength from a
spiritual relationship to a higher power. Exercise, damnit! The
hallmark of those who achieve the three-digit life is they have
lived active lives. If there is anything that has been shown to
promote longevity it is exercise. And we are not talking about
Lance Armstrong here. Walking 30 minutes a day is all it takes,
according to some very encouraging recent studies. (Do it with a
friend and you get the added longevity benefit of social
interaction.) Even this mild form of aerobic exercise results in
more efficient energy production which in turn results in less
oxygen radical formation… and this means slowing down the aging
process. Weight training is still important even if you aren’t
planning on being like Rocky Balboa and make another run up the
Museum steps at 60. The more muscle you have the more efficiently
you burn fat. With strength training we can reverse the typical
muscle loss that comes with aging. Supplement wisely. Our immune
systems are definitely at the mercy of the wear and tear of the
years spent fighting off bodily invaders. Yet recent research
suggests that the weakening of our immune systems isn’t an
inevitable result of aging. By bolstering the immune system through
nutritional supplementation, we can reduce inflammation which pays
off big time by slowing the aging process. Here is a list of the
nutritional supplements we should be considering in order to
enhance our natural immunity: Zinc, selenium, copper. folic acid,
vitamins A, B, D. You should also consider adding vitamin E, as
Italian centenarians were found to have impressively high blood
levels of vitamins A and E compared to younger adults. Calcium is
another supplement often prescribed to older adults because it will
slow age-related bone loss. Vitamin D, from sunlight, fortified
milk or added to calcium supplements, is also necessary for the
body to absorb calcium. Consult a nutritionally-savvy healthcare
provider about your specific needs and dosage. There are two more
longevity factors, but since space prevents me from presenting them
here, you will have to go to the Healthspan website
(www.HealthspanWeb.com) to find out what they are. Maybe that is
another “longevity factor”: a little mystery, a little
anticipation, wondering what is just around the corner.

Dr. Michael O.L. Seabaugh is a licensed clinical psychologist
with a psychotherapy practice in Santa Barbara. Comment at
healthspan@mac.com and visit his web site/blog at
www.HealthspanWeb.com for daily updates on the subject of
longevity.

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