Age is Just a Number
By: Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper
Becoming healthier as you grow older does not have to be a far-fetched goal. Our bodies are built to last, as long as we take care of them properly. At 84 years of age, I continue to exercise, maintain my weight, take supplements and more in order to maintain the healthy and active life I want to continue living.
Taking the proper supplementation keeps your body full of the nutrients it needs, especially if those nutrients are unattainable from your diet. Recent studies show that taking 3 grams of EPA/DHA found in Omega-3 is associated with the reduction of muscle deterioration throughout the aging process. People normally begin losing muscle around age 50, but those taking the aforementioned levels of Omega-3 actually maintain their strength as they grow older. The supplement is also known to reduce the pain and symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Healthy aging might seem like a difficult task, but if you take preventive measures early on, many unfortunate health circumstances can be avoided. As you begin to age and think about your desired quality of life as you get older, imagine how you would like to live. Would you prefer to reach your peak of fitness at an early age and feel your health steadily decline due to unhealthy habits? Or would you prefer to remain active throughout middle age and beyond, with no decline in health and a quick demise? I call this “squaring off the curve,” and it is the lifestyle model that I recommend to all of my patients, and that I fully embrace myself.
As I like to say, “you don’t stop exercising when you grow old; you grow old when you stop exercising.” To benefit the most from exercise as you age, I recommend the following balance between aerobic and strength training:
- If you’re 40 years old or younger, devote 80 percent of your workout time to aerobic training and 20 percent to strength training.
- If you’re 41 to 50 years old, shift to 70 percent aerobic and 30 percent strength work.
- If you’re 51 to 60, do 60 percent aerobic exercise and 40 percent strength training.
- After you pass 60, divide your workout time more evenly between the two strategies – while still giving an edge to aerobic exercise, which provides the most health benefits: 55 percent aerobic work and 45 percent strength work.
New studies also reveal a direct correlation between exercise and dementia and Alzheimer’s – proving that exercise of the mind can be just as important as physical exercise when it comes to healthy aging. These studies show that levels of the protein TAU, which causes Alzheimer’s, actually lower following periods of consistent physical activity; even people who already have the disease show improved symptoms following intervals of exercise.
In addition to physical activity, one should follow my eight steps to Get Cooperized in order to thrive throughout the aging process. I also recommend the following steps to exercise your mind in order to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia:
- Exercise your mind daily
- Get adequate sleep
- Take Omega-3
- Take Vitamin D3
- Take Vitamin B12
Physical activity has also been shown to reduce neurological psychiatric symptoms such as depression, and those over the age of 70 actually show the most improvement under these circumstances.
Remember – age is just a number. Making the choice to stay healthy and active, no matter your age, can make a great difference in how much of your life you actually get to live, especially as you grow older. You can choose to age fast or age slow…it’s up to you.