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Die Young as Late as Possible

“The goal is to die young as late as possible.” Father Time is undefeated. He will ultimately win the war. BUT, we don’t have to make it easy on him. We can tally some W’s in the smaller battles and skirmishes along the way. The best time to start stacking those wins was long ago. The second best time is right now. “Fitness” is not how we look naked. It’s a combination of body strength, cardiovascular strength, flexibility, and balance. A good “shower body” is a just pleasant byproduct.

When it comes to being physically strong it’s really rather simple. Notice the word “simple” and not the word “easy”. Huge difference. Mechanically our bodies are designed to move in only a few ways. We can squat at the knees. We can hinge at the hip. We can push away from ourselves and we can pull towards ourselves. That’s really it. If we’ll train those movements to keep as long as possible we’re well on our way to longevity.

“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general”. - Mark Rippetoe

Squatting is the ultimate example because it’s so fundamental yet seems to be the first basic movement pattern we lose as we age. It has to do with strength, but more to do with loss of flexibility. Sitting has been called “the new smoking”. That’s overstated but still useful. While our lifestyle has “evolved” from hunter gathering days, our bodies really haven’t. We’re built to move. A LOT. We’re not built for desking 8-10 hours a day and couching for the remaining hours. As we move less and less our bodies become tight and brittle. Stretching and yoga, or yoga like workouts, will counteract this if we’ll make them part of our routine. Yoga has the added benefits of including breath work, balance, and mental focus.

Cardiovascular (heart) health is no different than the rest. You want to keep your heart and it’s whole system as young and strong as possible for as long as possible. Without exercise, it also becomes stiff, brittle, and fragile. As per usual, the “best” exercise for maintaining this type of health is whatever exercise you’ll do. If you hate the elliptical machine, you’re not going to do it and so it cannot be the “best”. The most simple program is the ever present 10,000 steps a day, and that’s a fine start. Once that practice is habit, add some more intensity and sweat equity. If that’s playing tennis or ultimate frisbee, great. If that’s joining a running or cycling club, also great. Just get your heart pumping several times per week.

Diet is a significant factor in aging gracefully. Much of the food available today should really not even be classified as such and should be avoided at all costs. It’s been processed to a degree that it barely resembles actual food. Simplicity is the key once again. Most anything in a box is likely a poor choice. Ingredients list longer than 2 or 3 words probably have a better option. If you can’t pronounce something on the list, put it back. Sticking to the perimeter of the store is a good practice if you cannot get everything you need from the local farmers market or co-op.

Last, but not least, is the mind. Same as it ever was, use it or lose it. Exercising our brain maintains memory, focus, social skills, ability to learn (neuroplasticity), etc…It doesn’t have to be long or tedious. If can often be something that brings us joy like learning to play music. Or something that will help in our job or give us a reason to travel like learning a new language. Reading books, solving puzzles, and regular meditation are all ways to stay spry and help prevent the worst of the worst mental decline. Stay curious.

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