I’m making small talk at a party this past June with a well-known local violinist. We finally land at a point of common interest—our passion for practice, whether in the arts or in sports. I’m an avid tennis player and Uli, the violinist, lifts weights.
“Ah, weight lifting,” I say. “I’ve done it off and on over the years. I know I should be doing it, but I always end up pulling my back out.”
A week or so later, an email arrives from Uli. “You should meet Josh. He’s been my wife’s and my trainer for the past few years. He knows everything about the human body and how it works. No doubt, he can help you with your back issues.”
By mid July, I’m sitting across from Trainer Josh at his personal fitness studio for a preliminary meet-and-greet. I arrive curious but not certain I’ll do it.
In truth, it’s not just my back that leads me to his gym; it’s my jiggly upper arms.
“I want Michelle Obama arms,” I wishfully tell Josh.
“Then you shall have them,” Josh says with a smile.
“Really?? Ok. Let’s do this,” I say. And so my new fitness journey begins.
Josh, indeed, is amazing—incredibly knowledgeable, personable, and fun.
Another turning point comes a few weeks later when I discover a new book, Outlive by Dr. Peter Attia. Attia makes a compelling case for the need for a significant paradigm shift in how we approach aging– being very intentional about preparing our bodies and minds to be free from disability and disease as we get older.
Now, my new fitness journey is no longer just about my quest for arms that rival Michelle’s
This is a fight for how I want to live the rest of my, statistically speaking, LONG life.
Life expectancy in the U.S. in 1900 was 47. Today, it is 79. Many of us can expect to live well into our 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. My grandmother lived to 100. My mom is 86.
That’s amazing. But living longer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. My grandmother spent her last years confined to a wheel chair. Physically, her body had deteriorated to the point that she needed assistance for most self-care tasks.
She’s not alone.
According to Dr. Attia, living longer has two components: how long you live, the chronological number, and how well you live, the quality of those later years.
Dr. Attia calls this second component—HEALTHSPAN.
Between squats, I share my new book find with Trainer Josh.
“Dr. Attia,” Josh confirms, “knows his stuff!”
You’ve all heard the common refrain: “Getting older is not for the faint of heart.”
Outlive is about how to thrive in your later years.
Alarmingly, the signs for most of the major diseases that will plague us later (heart disease, cancer, Alzheimers’s, Type 2 diabetes) are working inside us, silently and invisibly for decades.
Dr. Attia says you need a strategy that will help prevent chronic diseases from taking hold, a strategy that improves your Healthspan.
So the ONE thing that you can do today to make a difference in your own Healthspan?
EXERCISE! Exercise is the most potent longevity “drug,” says Attia. No other intervention does as much to prolong your life and preserve your cognition and physical function.
Here are 6 more of Dr. Attia’s top tips to thrive as you age:
- Going from zero to just 90 minutes a week can reduce your risk of dying from all causes by 14%. Almost no drug can do that.
- You can be fitter at 55 and 65 than you were at 45 and remain that way into your 70’s, 80’s and beyond.
- If you increase muscle strength (weight training) and improve cardiorespiratory fitness (running, swimming, cycling), you have reduced your risk of dying from all causes by a far greater magnitude than you could achieve by any cocktail of medications.
- Having more muscle mass delays death because it also preserves Healthspan. Your muscle is what keeps your actual skeleton (bones) upright and intact. Maintaining musculoskeletal structure is also correlated with lower risk of falling.
- Alcohol is a negativity for longevity. The ethanol in alcohol is a potent carcinogen. Chronic drinking has strong associations with Alzheimer’s disease, mainly via its negative effect on sleep. (There goes my wine!)
- If you adopt only one new habit, it must be in the realm of exercise.
I’ve now got my Mom going to see Josh for her balance issues. She loves going (and loves Josh).
In the same way that we consult financial advisors to insure we save enough money to do the things we want to do in retirement, it takes that same kind of planning and discipline to prepare the body and mind for our later decades.
This book will show you how to live your best–long–life.