Activity might be the most important thing.

braumeister

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In the past week I visited two old friends (older than me, anyway). Both male, one is 83 and the other is 86.

The 83-year-old has never been at all active physically. He has spent his life in academia and achieved great success there, but never participated in any physical activity beyond turning the pages of books. Today he looks like he's 98 years old, and is a physical wreck. I don't expect him to last much longer, and it breaks my heart because he's such a great person.

The 86-year-old has always been active with golf and tennis. Today he looks like he's still in his early 70s, plays golf weekly in the season, and tennis at least a couple of times a week all year round. He's kind of an inspiration in his refusal to give in to old age.

So my point, based not on just these two but on many other friends I've had over the years, is that if you take the easy way you'll pay for it eventually, while if you push yourself you stand a much better chance of lasting longer. Just a word to the wise.
 
I'm very active, so I'm biased, but FWIW I agree. Just the other day I read a brief article about a study sponsored by NIH that mentioned how regular exercise apparently helps the entire body on a cellular level. That is, not just the particular muscles being targeted by a given exercise. Exercise doesn't override genetics, of course, but it will maximize one's genetics.
 
In the past week I visited two old friends (older than me, anyway). Both male, one is 83 and the other is 86.

The 83-year-old has never been at all active physically. He has spent his life in academia and achieved great success there, but never participated in any physical activity beyond turning the pages of books. Today he looks like he's 98 years old, and is a physical wreck. I don't expect him to last much longer, and it breaks my heart because he's such a great person.

The 86-year-old has always been active with golf and tennis. Today he looks like he's still in his early 70s, plays golf weekly in the season, and tennis at least a couple of times a week all year round. He's kind of an inspiration in his refusal to give in to old age.

So my point, based not on just these two but on many other friends I've had over the years, is that if you take the easy way you'll pay for it eventually, while if you push yourself you stand a much better chance of lasting longer. Just a word to the wise.
See my avatar picture, I am the oldest guy (80 1/2) in the photo by 4+ years, although the guy next to me on my left is 62. The other fat guys are a mess, physically. Yes, exercise matters.

Last week I visited my friend in Joplin, MO who is a career marathoner. He is 86, lives alone, and walks 2 miles a day (minimum), besides going to the gym. He doesn't look 86 by a longshot.
 
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I was a career Navy guy, now 79. We were required to maintain a modicum of regular physical fitness activity and had to adhere to body fat standards (although nobody would mistake most of us for Maines!). I and most of my Navy friends have carried those habits and behaviors into retirement. While very few of us are Adonises in our 70s and 80s, we can hold our own against our peers in the general population for appearance, weight and regular physical activity.
 
My dad and father-in-law were great examples of this. Both were the same age (within a month) and they couldn't have been further apart health wise. My dad kept moving and even into his late 80's was walking a couple miles a day. He lived to 92 and was mobile until the end - though he definitely slowed down in the last few years. FIL was not lazy, but he ate poorly and did not do anything that would be considered exercise. He did garden and in the health he was in, that was an admirable feat but no exercise. He lived to 82 and his last years were pretty rough. Of course there are always individual factors, but it was a prime example to me in real time that eating well and keeping up with movement were significant in length and quality of life - especially in the later years.
 
I would never claim that activity is the key to a long, healthy life (although I believe it's a big part).
I had a grandfather who never exercised a day in his life, drank at least as much as any of his friends, and was perfectly healthy until a year or two before his death at 96. There are always outliers.
 
At the end of the day, genetics is the key factor as to how long we live and in what health condition we are in as we age. We are both very active and hope that it is a factor in our quality of life as we age.
 
You can definitely extend your life by being more mentally AND physically active. Having said that, some people come up short on the genetic and "luck" factors which affects how long they live and/or how old they look.

If you're unlucky enough to be diagnosed with cancer, dementia, Alzheimer's, or some other disease, that can severely affect your longevity and how much activity you can handle and may result in faster aging. And even being diagnosed with cancer or some other "disease" is NOT a show stopper. I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma 11 years ago and I am still going strong to the best of MY ability.

But if a person has the ability and is healthy enough, being active as they age definitely helps. :) When I'm not sick I try to do something exercise related every single day....walking, weights, biking, yardwork, etc. and I think it helps a lot. And remember....do you what YOU can do and try not to compare yourself to other people since everyone ages differently.
 
Casual observation says that keeping active and maintaining reasonable mental and physical health go together. The old axiom, use it or lose it.
 
Great thread! I also have witnessed some of same as you have with your experience with your friends. I see it also and learned what not to do, if at all possible. I do know heredity is a thing that we don't have control of totally.

Staying active is key but the easy way can overcome us if not focused on what is important.

 
Today I ran four 4 minute intervals pretty much as fast as I could. Took a 3 minute break in between.

Yesterday was weights at the gym.
 
I recently went to two funerals. One was a neighbor who took very poor care of herself. She smoked and didn't exercise and her diet was terrible. She was 72. The other was a very active 82 year old. He died suddenly after spending the day with friends sailing. The neighbor had a succession of strokes and hadn't been out of her house much in the last 5 years. It's not just that he lived 10 years longer- it's the quality of his last 15 years that I'm exercising for.
 
As the saying goes; Motion is lotion.
My Mom used to say that all the time. Sure genes plays a major role, but staying physically and mentally active is something we can all do to extend our quality of life. My parents lived to 93 and 96, I’m sure that wouldn’t have been the case had they been sedentary seniors. They both played golf until almost 90 yo.
 
So the best way to keep movin is to keep movin.
I was always very active but didn't exercise or go to a gym. Heck part of my job was carrying bodies around, including miles out of the woods. The last year has taken a huge toll on me, and I try to walk up the road to the top of the hill and back every day now that I can walk again. Its only about 1000 ft and turn around. Cant do it without stopping for a short rest, and some days I turn back early. But damn it I'm trying.
 
Adding to my previous comment, 2 somewhat contradictory points: Years ago I read an article about a long term study of runners and non-runners. By their own admission, the people doing the study said the sample was too small for scientific conclusions (maybe 100 people studied?). Anyway, they found that running did not necessarily prolong life, but improved quality of life. Runners (and by extension active people in general) had a short period of bad health before their demise, vs years for the inactive group. Here's my contradictory thought: maybe people who stay active into advanced age do so precisely because their genetics make it possible to do so.
 
Study after study shows that exercise is the best medicine for virtually everything, the closest thing to a magic health pill that exists. Genetics and luck play a big part too so be prepared for s**t happens. I'm turning 76 and have been active all of my life with skiing, windsurfing, roller hockey, etc. The last 20 years I have been an avid cyclist and also keep up with weights. I just returned from a bike and barge tour in the Netherlands.

In 2020 I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease - progressive neurodegeneration, no current cure - as I said, s**t happens. One of the most troubling symptoms about 1/3 of us get is neurogenic orthostatic hypotension. When I stand my blood pressure drops more that 20ml diastolic and systolic. I can usually walk OK but have to be on the lookout for dizziness. Luckily, cycling is a good position for NOH and does not present a problem. On the other hand, I tried a Pickleball for PD group and discovered that jumping around or any sort of running is out of the picture for me. Still, the exercise magic pill seems to help slow the progression of most of my other PD symptoms. I plan to keep cycling until I can't, then maybe a rowing machine? :)
 
Here's my contradictory thought: maybe people who stay active into advanced age do so precisely because their genetics make it possible to do so.
This is my position also. I believe I've even stated here in the past. People who are capable of exercising, exercise. People age at different rates. This is axiomatic and observable Quoting study results about longevity and exercise is laughable. Somewhere on this forum is a link to a Dr in a Youtube video discussing just how much exercise humans need. It ain't much. Diminishing returns begins almost as soon as regular exercising starts. Fitness is not health.

Ever since my heart attack this is what all the medical types I've been seeing have been confessing to wrt exercise. Also, diet but that's a separate discussion.
 
I get my exercise but by nature I probably lean more in this direction.
I'm pretty lazy yet I almost find time to do some sort of exercise most days. I don't necessarily equate not doing anything physical to being lazy. Finding time to exercise is what I call "making a priority". I put off lots of things...I call that being lazy and being a procrastinator. I'm very good at that.
 
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