Tag Archives for " proactive aging "

Living Long, Living Well. I’ll Take Both (if I can get it)

I just finished listening to the audio version of "Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or die trying)", by . author Bill Gifford. The book is an interesting history and exploration of all the different (and sometimes downright weird) ways people try to add years to their life. 

I think we have it all backwards anyway. Sure, I am not in any hurry to die, but I don't want to live longer just for the sake of adding birthdays. 

Instead of adding years to my life, I'd rather add some more life to my years, no matter how many I have left.

Instead of being obsessed with (not) dying, I think it's more productive to be some more effort into really living.

Of all the different things that Gifford explored in his book, from vitamins and supplements, drugs, cold therapy, transfusions, the lot of it, there were two things that stood out as credible and evidence based that really seem to add both longevity and better health:

  • Caloric restriction of some kind. Intermittent fasting seems to be the easiest and most sustainable way.
  • Exercising 100 minutes a WEEK adds 7 years to life.

It really is that simple, noting that simple and easy are not the same thing.

There is also good evidence that coffee and red wine are helpful, and maybe a few select supplements and a medication or two. 


Skip a meal once in awhile.

Get moving.

And I am not just being a homer for these things, even though I have long advocated both. I am not interested in doing things that don't matter, but when I find out they do, well then let's get on it!

Nancy and I really do love what we do. Most people know what a healthy meal looks like. But fitting it in to their crazy life? That's a whole 'nother thing. We can help with that.

And the moving part? We believe there is absolutely no reason why men and women in their forties, fifties, sixties and beyond shouldn't have access to professional fitness coaching that is challenging and fun, yet appropriate for the realities of aging. PROactively aging is a whole lot better than just, well, getting old. 

Fall is upon us. The older I get the faster the years go by. September is a perfect time to commit (or recommit) to being the healthiest you can be for as long as you can be.

Ready to get started? Click the button below and let's talk about it. We'll even give you Two Weeks of our multiple-time award winning training for FREE. 

Don't just let life happen, around here we Make It Happen!

See you soon,

- DC

The Toughest Challenge You’ll Ever Take On

This post is first in a series called "Athletes of Aging".

Nancy and I used to be huge fans of the TV series "Star Trek:The Next Generation". In the second season we were introduced to the Borg, a seemingly unstoppable collective of cybernetic organisms (how's THAT for displaying some ultra-geekdom?) whose phrase "Resistance Is Futile" has become a catchphrase in pop culture for any force which is deemed to be unstoppable.

But I am here to tell you that for those of us who want our best health and fitness, resistance in not only not futile, it is the best and most impactful of all.

The resistance I am referring to, is of course resistance training - training for power and strength. 

I have often shared with our expecting clients that being pregnant and delivering a baby is the hardest event many women will ever train for. It ain't for sissies, which is why they don't let men do it. 🙂

I have come to believe that while pregnancy is indeed one of the toughest events, there is one that is even tougher, for women and men.

Aging Well.

You see we are all going to get older, until we don't. But there is a big difference between being alive and living. Between having more days and making the most of the days you have. Between taking breath in and breathing life to those around you, for as long as you can.

I am going to do something that is not very popular these days. I am going to contend that there is a best way for the aging adult to train, and its foundation is by becoming stronger.


This isn't just my opinion. In the past few years there has been a virtual explosion of evidence, published biomedical evidence, that resistance training - training to get stronger, is key to slowing and even reversing many of the effects of aging. We don't have to get weaker, lose mobility and balance, and get fatter. We can actually gain muscle in our 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's and beyond, and reap the benefits that come with it.

Dr. Jonathan Sullivan, in his book "The Barbell Prescription: Strength Training for Life After 40", co-authored with Andy Baker, likens "every bout of strength training as a prudent deposit into a 'Physiological 401 K': saving strong muscle, hard bone, and full mobility for your retirement."

As we all know when it comes to our retirement savings, the earlier you start and the more consistent you are, the greater the benefits. It is absolutely no different in the "strength training bank of life". 

I am the first to recognize that strength training, more colloquially known as "lifting weights" is not the only form of exercise. And again I will contend it is to be the foundational modality of exercise, the "mother modality" if you will. We start with strength training, and we remain focused on strength training, now and forever. All other forms of exercise rely on this simple fact - you must be strong enough to actually do them. Yes, even walk. We strength train so we can do the other activities we enjoy doing, because when we are stronger, we can do them better. 

It's also why I like the term "resistance training", because we can create resistance in many different ways and with many different tools. Bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, leveraged bodyweight resistance with a tool such as a TRX suspension trainer, and many others. But there is another word we need to add to the equation - Progressive.

As in "Progressive Resistance Training". In other words we must consistently be seeking to increase the resistance - the load we are working against - as our body adapts to the load we are currently putting it under. Put simply, to get stronger, you gotta keep lifting heavier. At some point some modalities that may initially increase strength when you start doing them; yoga, pilates, biking, swimming - all wonderful things mind you, will no longer be able to add to the strength and muscle you already have, and certainly as not as efficiently as progressive strength training.

You will also note that I use the word "Training" very purposely. There is a huge difference between "Working Out" and "Training".  "Working Out" refers to what you do for exercise, but that is not training. Training encompasses so much more than that. 

Training is exercise that manipulates training variables (load, speed of movement, time under tension, rest periods, to name a few) as part of a long term program designed (purposeful word) to improve one of more of the general fitness qualities - Strength, Speed, Power, Endurance, Flexibility.

Training also includes what happens outside of the gym - recovery, sleep, stress mitigation, nutrition. We call this "The Other 165" - the hours you aren't in the gym exercising. You must treat those hours as seriously as the hours you are resistance training if you want to remain healthy, injury-free, and continue to progress.

What do you think of when you think extreme sports? The X-Games? BASE jumping? Cave diving? 

Extreme all, for sure.

But it's those brave souls who take on the ultimate challenge against an unbeatable foe (for who among us will ultimately cheat death?), who daily take up the mantle of training for their best life by continuously seeking to learn and improve, and to strengthen body, mind and soul, who are the most extreme athletes of all.

These are the Athletes of Aging.

Make no mistake, when you train, you are an athlete. You may not feel like one, or think you act or look like one, but you are. 

Embrace it.

Posted right in front of me is a note card that is titled "My Why":

To be as useful as I can 
To as many people as I can
For as long as I can

I'm not going to accomplish that sitting on my tail feathers all the time, and neither are you. 

It's time to join the resistance.

Get after it!

Coach Dean

PROactive Aging Strategy 3

Strategy 3: Enjoy Life

Is it just me, or is this just an unhappy world? Seriously, life is too short for that. And while there is no doubt there is a lot of things that can cause our perspective to be soured, it’s really important for our health that we proactively encourage some happy in our lives.

Here are two things that affect our “happy-healthy” state of mind, and that we do exercise control over.

Stress Management

​When you hear the word “stress”, what comes to mind? I’ll admit when I think of stress, the first thing that pops into my mind is “bad – go away”.

In reality, stress is a normal physiological response to events that we feel threatened by or knock us off balance in some way. You have heard the term “fight or flight”. When something threatens us physically, mentally or emotionally we go on high alert.

That is the stress response; it is natural and is designed to protect us. Not all stress is bad, in fact stress does some very good things. It can keep us alert in dangerous situations, increase concentration when we need it most, and keep us sharp during high pressure situations.

It is also true that beyond a certain point stress no longer is your friend, and becomes an enemy to your health, mood, productivity and relationships. When we are on stress overload, it just plain “saps our happy”.

And “overload” is exactly the right word. Allostatic Load is the cumulative wear and tear on your body – physical, mental, and emotional – that results from stress, especially chronic stress. We really can only take so much, like the proverbially “straw that broke the camel’s back”. That’s why when we are reaching our threshold little things can set us off. It wasn’t the fact that your 15-year old told you last minute (again) that he needed his permission slip signed as you were trying to get out the door, it was all the other stuff that has been piling up that caused you to blow your top. (That might have been a true autobiographical story).

Fun Fact: Allostatic Load can be measured via your Heart Rate Variability (HRV). This is a simple 2- or 3-minute process using a heart rate monitor and your smartphone. I have monitored my HRV every morning for about six years now, and some of our clients do as well. The point? If my HRV indicates I am reaching threshold, I know I have to focus on my recovery efforts.

Good and Bad Stress

Good stress is also called eustress. This stress moves us move out of our comfort zone, learn, grow and get stronger.

Coach Nancy loves rollercoasters. To her they are fun, exciting, and exhilarating. It’s short term and leaves her energized and wanting more. That’s an example of good stress.

Exercise is another good example. Appropriate exercise is hard work, but also leaves you feeling good, even energized like the rollercoaster (after your heart rate comes down and you can breathe again, of course).

Conversely, I am not a fan of rollercoasters. Going up to the edge of a cliff, hanging there, and then plunging into the unknown in a seemingly uncontrolled fashion does not make me feel energized, not one bit.

This is bad stress, what we call distress.

So how do you tell the difference between good stress and bad stress?

There is no “one-size-fits-all” when dealing with stress. We all react to different stressors, well, differently. What distinguishes good stress from bad stress is in your life is not actually the specific stressor itself, but your personal ability to recover from it.

Here are some factors that contribute to our stress response and recovery ability:

  • Our attitude and outlook on life. Optimists generally live longer than pessimists.
  • Our personal life experiences. How stress was modeled to us can be a huge factor how we respond.
  • Our perception of how much we control the situation. Feeling trapped can paralyze us and leave us hopeless.
  • Our friends and family. Knowing we are loved and cared for is a difference maker. Hanging out with people we like to be around just makes sense.
  • Our physical environment. Wide open spaces, nature, and places we like to be automatically reduces our tension level. I don’t like crowds; some people thrive in them. Again, it’s highly personal.
  • Our allostatic load. The more we are dealing with at once, the harder it is to keep our head cool and our body healthy. Cumulative stress is highly damaging to even the most positive and cheery of us.

I know I keep emphasizing allostatic load, and it’s for a couple reasons. The first thing to remember is that everything contributes to it: physical, mental and emotional. Your crazy high electric bill, your crazy boss, your fuel light flickering on empty, and yes, even that great workout you just had goes on the pile. The other reason it keeps coming up is because you can measure it, scientifically, so you are reminded to actually do something about it.

So what do we do about it?

Understanding how to manage stress is key to living in the sweet spot, where stress is inspiring and energizing rather than demoralizing and demotivating.

The opposite of “fight or flight” is “rest and digest”. Your central nervous system needs some love to, and recovery activities help build that resilience that is so important to develop.

Here are some proven ways to help you find that sweet spot, reduce your allostatic load, and be your most productive and happiest self:

  • Get some sunshine (especially here in the north. Get your Vitamin D level checked too
  • Go outside and do activity you enjoy; walk, bike, hike
  • Listen to relaxing music
  • Get a massage
  • Sauna or hot tub
  • Practice breathing exercises (deep breathing)
  • Laugh more
  • Deep breathing
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Physical play
  • Exercise

A word on electronics; while movies and television can be entertaining, they are also stimulating to the central nervous system, and adding to your allostatic load. As challenging as it may be, true stress reduction and recovery means ditching the screens. Leave the phone in the car. The world won’t explode.

You don’t have to shoot for “stress-free”

It’s not possible, and as we learned, we need some stress to be at our most inspired, productive and happy. But stress won’t manage itself, and you won’t be great at it right away if you are just adopting these strategies. Don’t stress about it (ha) – just adopt some simple strategies you can do right now to reduce your stress load.

“Stress ages you faster” is not just a pithy saying. It’s reality. Stress management is a must for successful aging and staying at your best, longer.

Stress Management

You are hitting the gym regularly, and you’re eating habits are trending in the right direction (see above). Yet someone you still don’t feel great, and you just don’t look or feel like you want to. It’s time to ask yourself if you are a “stinky sleeper”.

Good sleep doesn’t happen by accident. Just like anything worth doing, it’s going to require effort and practice.

Here are some tips for shaking that stinky sleep habit and setting yourself up for success:

Get Up Right Away

Hitting the "snooze" bar just once never seems to happen. The longer you stay in the bed, the harder to get up. Sit Up. Feet On The Floor. Stand Up. Better sleep at night starts first thing in the morning.

Find The Sun

Immediate natural light exposure regulates your melatonin. This helps us be awake fully in the day, ready to sleep at night.

Exercise Appropriately

Regulate your inner clock, reduce your stress, optimize your hormones. Plus, you look and feel better!

Eat A Moderate Dinner

Too much food makes it harder to sleep. Enough said.

Download Your Day

Clear your mind; writing things down gets them out of your head. Planning the next day at night helps you not think about them when you’re trying to get some shut eye.

Creating and practicing a nightly routine is key. Here are some actions steps:

Turn off the electronics at least 30 minutes before bed. TV, Computer, Cell Phone, all of it. Artificial light interferes with melatonin production, which is required for deep and maximum restorative sleep.

Take a warm bath or shower. Magnesium based bath salts are known to help with sleep.

Your bedroom should be reserved for two things only; sleep and sex. A television in the bedroom is a sleep strangler. Keep your bedroom as your Fortress of Solitude; quiet, relaxed and peaceful (at least until Lex Luthor crashes the party).

Experiment with room temperature. For most people 67 degrees or so seems to work best. Start there and adjust what works for you.

The room should be dark, as in pitch black. Any and all light interferes with the sleep cycle. If you don’t want to trip on the way to the bathroom, use a motion-detecting night light.

A little tough love here.

Your health is worth missing an episode of your favorite TV show. I love watching football as much as anyone, but I discovered that teams don’t need me to watch to win. (I know, I was bummed when I found out). Of course, there are exceptions; I am going to watch the Super Bowl, and if the Red Sox are in the World Series, I am there. But my habit is to go to bed an get at least seven hours of sleep a night. I get up at 4:00am on training morning, so you do the math. Jimmy Fallon and I never cross paths.

While it’s true that our sleep requirements go down as we age (From 9-11 hours when we are school age to 7-8 hours at 65+) we still need enough sleep. While there are outliers that our fine with less than that, the overwhelming odds are you are not one of those special flowers. Seven hours a night will keep you functioning at peak performance, regardless of the date on your birth certificate.


Dylan Thomas wrote; "Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

I am not on some Quixotic quest for immortality. But I am not averse to a little "raging" either.

You don’t have to settle. I loved my grandfather very much. And I distinctly remember that when he was 70 he almost never got out of his chair, because he couldn’t. I remember as a kid thinking how old 70 must be. That is not a criticism of my granddad. He was a hard-working man who was a product of his generation, a proud generation. We know more about the aging process now than he did then. We know smoking and excess alcohol ravages the mind and body and ages you faster. We have better medicine and more opportunity. But knowing and doing are two very different things.

It’s up to us to take advantage of the boundless resources we have in front of us and make the best choices we can to live an active and healthy life.

Let’s Do This!

Need Help Getting Started?

About Cr8 Fitness

Cr8 Fitness mission is to help turn our clients “Happy and Healthy” on by Coaching them to Eat Well, Exercise Smart, and Enjoy Their Best Life.

We are a small facility tucked into the heart of the Suncook Valley, family-owned and operated for over 10 years. Each of our clients is family to us, and we are their fitness home.

Our heart is to create a safe, fun, and happy environment where you get the personal attention to reach your health and fitness goals.

Getting started is simple. Just click here to register for your complimentary fitness screen and 2-Week Free Tryout.

We look forward to seeing you!

- DC

PROactive Aging Strategy 2

Strategy 2: Exercise Smart

One of the unfortunate things I see is as people get older is they stop moving. I don’t mean they stop going to the gym four times a week, they hardly move at all anymore. And I am not talking about people in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s; I am seeing this with folks in their thirties. We need more movement!

The truth is that regular exercise is one of the most “bang for the buck” things we can do for our health.

As I mentioned previously, as we age (starting in our thirties) our metabolism declines and our body doesn’t use the food we eat as well as it used to.

Exercising helps change all that! (Did you expect me to say anything else, being an exercise guy and all?)

Here’s the deal. Exercises tells the body:

  • Balance my blood sugar!
  • Build and repair my muscles and bones!
  • Get my circulation going and move these nutrients and oxygen to where they need to go!

(In other words, exercise is really bossy, but in a really good way.)

Even better, exercise is correlated with lower rates of:

  • Alzheimer’s and Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Obesity
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue (true story!)
  • Overall Mortality

Add onto all that disease-fighting goodness with the fact that exercise improves mood and well-being, and there is no doubt you NEED exercise in your life. When you make it social, like exercising with a friend or training in group classes, the mood modifying power of exercise is unmatched.

At Cr8 Fitness, we talk about “appropriate exercise”, and that means different things for different people.

If you have not exercised in a while, you are going to need strategies that promote mobility, flexibility, and especially injury prevention. The good news is that as you exercise more, and your body gets stronger, you build resiliency and are able to tolerate more and higher level activities. I would be remiss if I didn’t promote getting a good coach to guide you on this “appropriate exercise” journey, especially if you haven’t exercised in a long time or have or have had injuries.

Here are some tips:

Ease into your new exercise program:
It’s a really big deal to get back in the gym, and sometimes we are so gung-ho that the next day we are so sore we can’t move. I’ve been there. A good program will start you appropriately (there’s that word again) and progress you as your ability increases.

Keep things in perspective:
Exercise intensity is a subjective matter. To be blunt, a 25-year old trainer has no idea what a 50, or 60, or 70-year-old feels like during, before, and after exercise. What “moderate to vigorous” looks like to them may be far different than what it looks (and feels) like to you. If they are a good trainer, that may not matter. But having two experienced coaches over the age of fifty here does have its benefits. And we can still kick most 25-year old butts to boot!

Find some fun in your exercise routine:
The two key factors in finding success in your fitness program are consistency, and fun. If you aren’t having fun with your exercise routine you aren’t going to be very consistent with it, at least not for long. That doesn’t mean every day is going to be sunshine, unicorns and rainbows; exercise is hard! But when you are in an enjoyable environment, with people that care about, want to help you, and miss you when you are gone does make all the difference.

Next Week

We will explore Strategy 3 of PROactive Aging:

Enjoy Life!

Don't miss it,

- DC

PROactive Aging Strategy 1

Strategy 1: Eat Well

As we age, good nutrition is more important than ever. Getting old isn’t for sissies! And as backwards as it may seem, each passing year decreases our energy needs, while at the same time increasing our nutrition needs.

What that means in the real world is we need to eat less calories but get more nutrition.


Our clients mention this common frustration all the time; “I don’t eat any more food than I used to, but I am still gaining weight. It’s not fair!”

It may not be fair, but it is physiology. Because of the physical and lifestyle changes that usually happen as we get older, the need for calories actually decrease.

But the thing we often miss is our nutrition requirements actually increase. Because of the complex changes that are happening to our metabolism, hormones and immune system, among other factors, the food we eat needs to be nutrient-dense and more easily digestible.

As we get older, our bodies metabolize what we eat differently. You probably know by now that the pop tarts, ho-ho’s and twinkies you ate when you were a kid (and got away with) do some pretty ugly things now.

What you may not know is that even the good choices we put on our plates metabolizes differently, so we need to pay attention to that as well.

Here’s some basic guidelines on how your macronutrient balance needs to shift.

Lean Protein

In many people, aging causes “anabolic resistance”, which is when protein synthesis (how much of the good stuff our body can actually use) decreases. So what does that mean? We need to eat more to get the same effect.

The recommendation for healthy older adults (I am 52 and put myself in that category) is at least 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. When you are sick, you need even more; 1.2 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, and if severely ill, even more.

For a person that weighs 150 lbs. (~68kg) that equals to between 80 and 100 grams per day, or 4-5 palm size servings.

The only caution is if you have or have had kidney problems. Consult with a doctor, Registered Dietician, or certified nutrition professional for appropriate amounts.

Quality Carbohydrates

Quality carbohydrates are the key here. I don’t like to use the terms “good” and “bad” carbs, however there are high quality choices that should be our preferred source, most of the time.

Focus on vegetables first, a little fruit, and some whole grains. Note: Most of us eat too many grains because we like them, not because we need them. Even the best whole grains are calorie dense and easy to over-eat. And no, that doughnut is NOT whole grain.

Quality carbs also tend to be higher in fiber (aim for 25 grams per day), which keeps the system moving, if you know what I mean. Well-cooked root vegetable, root vegetables, fruits, and true whole grains are your best bet here. You can also take a sugar-free powdered supplement such as psyllium husk if necessary.

Healthy Fats

Fats are so important to optimum health, yet in many circles still much maligned. Fats play a primary role in regulating the inflammatory response in our body, and the kind of fat we eat makes a huge difference if that response is helping us or hurting us.

Why does inflammation matter?

Research indicates that systemic inflammation may be THE common contributing factor in just about every disease; diabetes, cancer, heart disease, even diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s.

To lessen inflammation, eliminate trans-fat (which tend to be high in processed foods), and moderate saturated fats (eg animal fats) and low-quality omega-6 fats such as corn and soybean oil.

Replace those fats with good quality omega-6 (e.g. extra-virgin olive oil and avocado), and especially omega-3 fats (sardines, mackerel, salmon herring, anchovies, chia and hemp seeds, and walnuts). Three servings of fats from these sources should be your goal. I also recommend supplementing with a high-quality fish oil, unless you are on blood thinners, in which you should consult your doctor first.

Tip: You don’t have to be a saint and remove all treats; face it, you won’t anyway. And really, who wants to go through life without birthday cake? The key is to prioritize nutrient-dense foods in a balanced manner, most (like 90%) of the time. When you do that, a lot of the rest of it takes care of itself.

A Word on Alcohol

Here’s my advice (and what most experts suggest).

If you don’t drink alcohol already – don’t start.

In spite of what you may hear in the media, the research on alcohol consumption (even moderate) is mixed.

Excess alcohol consumption is linked to health problems in about every part of your body; heart, brain, immune system, liver and kidneys, metabolism. Besides that, I guess it’s ok, right?

But seriously, there are some very important functions alcohol impairs, besides your ability to drive. The body cannot store alcohol, so it always prioritizes clearing it from your system. The liver goes to work metabolizing your bourbon (or beer), and there are side effects; delay or neglect of other tasks, one of which is metabolizing fat.

That’s right, the long of the short of it is while there is alcohol in your body, you aren’t burning body fat. Doesn’t matter how much you work out or how many miles you run. Until the liver is done with the booze, the fat’s staying where it is.

You may also be interested in what “moderation” is.

According to the United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, “moderate drinking” is:

Women: Up to 7 drinks a week, no more than 3 in one day.

Men: Up to 14 drinks a week, no more than 4 in a single day.

What is a “drink”?

•12 oz. beer with 5% Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

•5 oz. glass of wine; 12% ABV

•3 oz. of fortified wine (sherry/port); 18% ABV

•1.5 oz. of liquor (e.g. rum, rye, vodka); 40% ABV

So the old saying is right; “Think Before You Drink”, and especially before you drink too much.

Good News

Your health is directly affected by the quality of what you eat.

Bad News

Your health is directly affected by the quality of what you eat.

As you can clearly see, it's really just news. Whether it's good or bad really depends on what you do with it. There is plenty of room for enjoying the foods you like to eat.  Just don't do it all the time. Plenty of veggies, lean protein and healthy fats should be on your plate all the time. Have dessert, once in awhile. Have pizza, once in awhile. Have fill in the blank)______________________, once in awhile.

When you eat the foundational stuff 90% of the time, you are almost always on the right track. That means 2 or 3 times a week you can and should have the "other stuff". 

And remember the prize. Good health for a lifetime is so worth it!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

- DC

PROActive Aging: The Foundation

Why I Wrote This Article Series

When I first started coaching, I didn’t think all that much about “Active Aging”. But as a 52-year old on the front side of Generation X, it comes up a bit more in my mind now. And as a coach and personal trainer, I see more and more clients in their 40’s, 50’s 60’s and even 70’s walk through our doors.

No doubt about it. Our clients (and I) still want to look good, but more often than not we want to feel good, and we don’t want to give up doing the active things we like doing. Who says you can’t keep hiking, biking, skiing and snowboarding just because you added another number to your age? I want to keep throwing the football as far as I used too, and I am working hard to stay ahead of my 15-year old in the weight room. 

At my last birthday I found myself pondering this thought:

"I know I am a year older, but I really don't FEEL any different than 10 years ago, in fact in a lot of ways I feel better. Do I really have to accept that getting older comes with unavoidable aches, pains and weight gain?"

Now don't get me wrong. I have noticed some physical changes that have come with the passing years. But they have more to do with recovery than they do with ability.

I have continued to get stronger in the gym, but he fact of the matter is I just don't bounce back from training or injury as fast as I used to. I spend more time on mobility work than I used to, and I can't pound quite as many calories as I used to and stay lean. When something gets tweaked, I am careful about addressing it, not ignoring it, confident it will eventually "go away". Part of that has to do with a little wisdom gained over the years from doing stupid things. 

Many of us are at the stage of life when we see our parents starting to struggle with the aging process too, and we want to help them as well. The fact of the matter is the more proactive we are with our physical fitness and healthy eating habits now, the far better off we will be in the next 10, 20, 30 years and beyond.

I read an article recently on this subject, and this sentence caught my eye;

"It's not the number of years you live; it's how you live them." – Jennifer Broxterman

The author then wrote something that really drove the point home. It's not about lifespan - it's about healthspan. It's not how long you live - it's how well you live. That’s our goal.

The Gap In Our Thinking

What is “Active Aging” anyway? In 2015 the World Health Organization actually replaced that term with “Healthy Aging”, and they define it this way:

“The process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age”. That’s a pretty solid definition. It’s what I like to call PROactive Aging.

No matter what you call it; Active Aging, Healthy Aging, Successful Aging, or Functional Aging the premise is the same to me; I want to live as actively and productively as possible, for as long as possible.

I wrote this guide because too often I see a gap in the way public policy addresses the issue.

The following were the topics at a recent Active Aging Conference in my local area:

Overview of Retirement and Social Security; What You Need to Know

The Basics of Memory Loss

Aging At Home

Proper Nutrition

Now to be sure those are all relevant topics in the discussion, and I was thrilled to see nutrition included.

But there are some glaring omissions I just couldn’t ignore.

It’s a conference on active aging that has absolutely no speakers on the subject of staying active – in other words keeping that body moving!

I am all for having an maintaining an active mind, but that head functions best when it’s sitting on a heathy body. And that requires physical activity. You don’t have to run marathons (actually please don’t), but you do need regular exercise and movement.

There are other strategies we need to consider and adopt as we work toward our best healthspan too

  • Stress Management 
  • Good Sleep Habits 
  • Having A Positive Outlook On Life
  • Surrounding Ourselves With Positive People
  • Finding Meaningful Work

And many others…

The bottom line is that good nutrition and lifestyle habits - regular appropriate exercise, healthy amounts of sleep, and stress management strategies, are the best tools to improve healthspan.

The good news? Those things are in your control. While we can't always change what happens to us, we do have a choice on how we are going to deal with the mess that life throws our way.

One of my favorite words is "resilience". One definition is; "the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness."

We hit the gym to build resilience in our bodies. A strong, flexible (dare I say "pliable", TB12 fans?) body is less prone to injury and recovers more quickly from injury than a detrained body.

We nourish our body with healthy foods to support that training, to promote healthy cell function, and to build a rock-solid immune system that fends of the ravages of illnesses and the stress of life.

We practice stress management, have good sleep habits, and having some fun as part of enjoying a happy, healthy life.

Resilience doesn't happen by accident. There is daily effort and struggle involved. But it is worth it.

The focus of this article series (I know, finally!) is to show you how to turn your happy and healthy on by learning to Eat Well, Exercise Smart, and Enjoy Your Best Life.

Next Article Focus: 

Strategy 1: Eat Well

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