Sunday, January 27, 2013

Live Longer, Probably Healthier, Too

Interesting read in today's Parade Magazine, which comes in many of our nation's Sunday papers.  I've been reading Parade Magazine for as long as I can remember. 

Anyway, the article is written in a quiz form, and here is a link to it.  But I'll summarize here.  All of the answers have good solid research to back them up.  And it all makes me that much more determined to take better care of myself in the future.  Most of the living longer tips indicate one should get more physical activity, which is why it caught my eye.

So, if you want to improve your memory after age 50, should you do some sudoku, take some Gingko Biloba, or take a walk?

Take a walk.  Seniors who get more physical activity have less brain shrinkage than sedentary seniors.  So get out and walk.  Or ride a bike.

How do you fix arthritic, creaky knees?  Should you sit and rest, take some supplements (glucosamine or shark cartilage), or take a Tai Chi class?

Tai Chi, if you're playing along.  The stretches and poses can help control pain and improve your physical movement and function.  I also, from my own anecdotal evidence, recommend bike riding.  It's been the best thing for my knees yet! I'll have to look for a Tai Chi class too, as I have no idea how to do that.

Will it shorten your life more to watch TV, or to smoke?

I immediately thought smoking, of course.  But truth is, it is tv watching.  Any sedentary activity shortens your life.  Studies have shown that for ever hour an adult watches tv, it shortens their life by 22 minutes.  Smokers only shorten their life by 11 minutes for every cigarette.  Not that you should take up smoking.  But that tv habit?  That needs to go.  I am not a tv watcher, except for new and the occasional baseball or football game.  I'd rather be doing something else.  That being said, many of my "doing something else" things involve sitting on my butt, so I'm going to stretch this to mean ANY sitting time in front of a screen of any kind.

Been spending my whole life smoking, avoiding exercise, and being unhealthy.  I'm over 40/over 50/over 60.  Is it too late for me?

Not at all.  Get up and get out of the house and get some exercise and put down the cancer stick and be more careful of what you eat.  Any amount of doing these things, even in middle age, will give you a longer life expectancy. I am not a smoker, but I'm fat, and don't get enough exerciseThat is going to change.

What does having a window open have to do with making you feel younger?

Looking outside, particularly at a natural, outdoorsy view, can reduce blood pressure.  No lie!  Living near open areas or green space has been shown to have an positive effect on your "telomeres," a part of the DNA strand that can deteriorate with age.  In other words, looking onto green space, open space, and nature can keep your DNA young.

Does volunteering decrease depression and better your sex life?

Oddly enough, yes.  Being active and involved in your community, or with children, or wherever you choose to spend your time can decrease depressive symptoms.  It has also been show to increase/enhance women's sexual desire and overall contentment with their sexual lives.

I'm physically active and many years can I add to my lifespan?

More than five years, according to a 2012 study.  Elders who swam, walked, or otherwise enjoyed physical activity and had social interactions with others lived more than five years longer than those who were sedentary.  Remaining socially engaged is the key; even a drumming class or writing group could give you the interaction you need to keep healthy.

What about that whole osteoporosis/bone health thing?

This one interested me, of course, as I sit here with a broken leg moving toward recovery.  What should I do to make this not a concern?  Scientists in Denmark sent a group of sedentary women over 40 to either start running, or play soccer, for a time period of 14 weeks.  Surprise...the soccer moms/women had better bone strength after the 14 weeks than the runners did.  Now, I'm not sure my knees can take any kind of soccer, but maybe there's something else I can do to build my bone strength up through activity.

Okay, so how do I get motivated?

According to research, get a dog.  People who had a dog to walk walked more regularly and more often than others.  A dog has to be walked.  If that's your motivation, go with it!  Me, I'll just have to continue to self-motivate; we're not getting a dog, and my cat would not let me take her for a walk (unless it was in a backpack or something).

Are you inspired by any of these things?  Let me hear about it!  Leave me a comment!

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