Adding ‘Spice’ to Your Life Will Help to Keep You Young

by VR Sreeraman on Nov 18 2007 3:07 PM

If you are willing to stay young, just add some sizzle, such as dancing, drinking wine and eating chocolate, to your lifestyle, according to a new book.

John Morley, M.D., director of the division of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University has outlined a 10-step program to improve quality of life as we age in a new book, “The Science of Staying Young.”

“Living well and feeling good enough to do whatever you want to do throughout your lifetime is priceless,” said Morley, who is a co-author of the book.

“I suggest little changes that involve good eating, such as including dark chocolate in your diet, drinking wine, socializing and adding simple exercises that anyone can do. It’s more fun than most people think. Being proactive about living well and feeling better for the rest of your life, regardless of your current chronological age, doesn’t have to be a chore,” he added.

Morley has insisted in the book that those who want to stay young should add a little SPF – spontaneous physical fun -- to their lives.

He has suggested things like fidgeting in your office chair to burn calories, spending time walking from your car to the mall rather than driving to find a close parking space, working in your garden, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going dancing once a week.

“Spontaneous physical fun is such a logical thing, and so appealing,” he said.

In the book, Morley has blended advice for living better with a prescription to detect medical problems early, when they are most easily treated.

“It’s all about being proactive. Boomers like to ask questions, and we’re giving some answers so they can take control of their lives,” he said.

The book breaks the science of staying young into 10 steps.

1. Eat a nutritious and balanced diet. Strive for four servings of fish a week and substitute fish oil capsules if you fall short. Enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol – a drink for women and at most two for men, a day. Add plenty of fruits and vegetables, enough proteins and lots of fibre to keep things running smoothly.

2. Find ways to add physical activity into your life. In addition to moving around more by vacuuming, raking or walking your dog, aim to exercise for a half hour every day. For the best outcome, combine endurance, resistance training, balance, posture and stretching exercises.

3. Use hormone replacement therapy judiciously. Hormone therapy isn’t the definitive anti-aging potion. Hormone replacements can make your life better if you have a deficiency, but won’t work miracles otherwise.

4. Exercise your brain to keep your mind sharp. Tackle a Sudoku puzzle, play video games, turn off the television, practice working mental math problems, treat signs of depression that can cause memory problems, enjoy a stable marriage and become a “spiritual” person for a renewed sense of hope.

5. Don’t lose weight after age 60. Get in shape before by combining exercise and a healthy diet to build muscle. It’s healthier to be “pear-shaped” and carry extra weight in your hips than “apple-shaped” and have a larger waistline.

6. Lower your risk for heart disease. Give up smoking if you haven’t already. Have your blood pressure checked and take prescribed medicine if it is high. Listen to your body and recognize the warning signs of a heart attack or sudden onset of a stroke. Don’t hesitate in seeking immediate medical treatment by calling 9-1-1.

7. Screen for cancer. While the single greatest risk for developing cancer is aging, you can make healthy lifestyle choices to mitigate your risk.

8. Thicken your bones. For bone health, do moderate weight-bearing exercises, such as regular walking, to strengthen bones. Add in resistance or weight training, adequate calcium and vitamin D and medications that could include estrogen or testosterone if recommended by your doctor.

9. Stay on your feet. About 95 percent of all hip fractures come from falls and account for more than 800,000 emergency room visits and more than 332,000 hospital admissions each year. Take up tai chi to improve your balance and pick your clothes up off the floor so you don’t trip over them.

10. Schedule a check-up. You need to know what’s going on in your body so you can screen to detect problems early, prevent others from developing and get the best treatment if you have a condition.