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Nuture over Nature, becoming a Superager

Nuture over Nature, becoming a Superager

In a recent post on the CNN website, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent says:" Over the past century, modern medicine has helped increase life expectancy in the United States by more than three decades. And over the next few decades, we may better define "longevity genes" and the relevance they have to our lives. For the time being, though, both the quality and quantity of our lives are very much in our own control. When it comes to our longevity, we would be well-served to focus on nurture more than nature." 

Recent studies have shown that genes account for some, but not that much of how we age. Based on studies of twins separated at birth, research has found that genetic differences probably account for only about a quarter of the variance in adult human lifespan. 

There are 5 recommendations for extending healthy life more than a decade.

1. Eat a Healthy Diet

2. Exercise Regularly

3. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

4. Consume Alcohol in Moderation

5. Don't Smoke

And if you want to become a SUPERAGER, staying agile physically and mentally there are steps you can take according to Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University. The best answer at the moment is: " work hard at something. Many labs have observed that these critical brain regions increase in activity when people perform difficult tasks, whether the effort is physical or mental. You can, therefore, help keep these regions thick and healthy through vigorous exercise and bouts of strenuous mental effort."

This brings to mind some tasks that are both. Think of an exercise like, holding a forearm plank position, after a few seconds you begin to feel the muscular effort that it takes to sustain the position, as your muscles fatigue you need to engage your mental determination and fortitude to stay with it for as long as you can. This is not a no-pain-no-gain notion it is, however, a challenge. 

 Ms. Feldman Barret says, 

"The road to superaging is difficult, though, because these brain regions have another intriguing property: When they increase in activity, you tend to feel pretty bad — tired, stymied, frustrated. Think about the last time you grappled with a math problem or pushed yourself to your physical limits. Hard work makes you feel bad in the moment. The Marine Corps has a motto that embodies this principle: “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” That is, the discomfort of exertion means you’re building muscle and discipline. Superagers are like Marines: They excel at pushing past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort. Studies suggest that the result is a more youthful brain that helps maintain a sharper memory and a greater ability to pay attention." 

And to make the effort even more valuable take on a challenge with friends. Turns out, superagers are more resilient and more extroverted. People who lived longer had very close relationships over the years.SuperAger study author Emily Rogalski found in the 80-year Harvard study found that relationships were a key predictor of longevity. “There are brain benefits of having good friends."

P.S. Or try squatting while playing chess!!

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