Archives for February 20, 2012

Monday Motivation: healthy choices slow down aging

Happy Monday! Time for your weekly motivation.

We are all aging, every minute of every day. There’s nothing we can do to stop the clock, but making simple lifestyle choices, including exercising daily and eating well can slow down the aging process. Did you know that,

  • exercising vigorously for 3 hours each week reduces your biological age by as much as 9 years (as measured by telomere length; the protective ends of your chromosomes that shorten as you age)
  • adding just 2 servings of fruits and vegetables daily can improve the odds that you’ll maintain functional health (i.e., be able to get out of bed in the morning and bend down to reach the newspaper) as you age

The possibility of aging slowly and well motivates me to prepare healthy meals and get to the gym regularly.

My parents are a perfect example of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle on aging.

My dad recently turned 70, yet spends time walking and cycling most days of the year. He’s an active gardener (volunteering at local gardens in both his summer and winter home towns) and enjoys a leisurely swim when the weather is warm enough. He is trim, in part, due to his love of movement, but also because he follows a strict diabetic diet (he’s been insulin-dependent for nearly 50 years).

Years before it became the healthy thing to do, my father served up home-made meatloaf and ‘ham’burgers made from ground turkey. Fat-free milk was a staple when I was growing up. (Although I was often embarrassed to bring my friends home for dinner on hamburger night, I now appreciate the healthy eating habits he modeled for my sisters and me; thanks Dad!)

My mom is 68. She retired early because work interfered with golf. She typically spends 5 days a week on the golf course, most of the time walking the entire 18 holes. In addition to the physical activity itself, the friendships she’s made on the course are key to her youthful approach to life.

My interests in cooking and baking stem directly from her; she refused to purchase packaged treats for us as children, preferring to bake her own cookies, breads (believe it or not, there’s an entire series of homemade bread photos in our family photo album; foreshadowing her blogging daughter’s future, perhaps?) and ‘health food brownies’ (I can visualize the recipe card with instructions for adding wheat germ and wheat bran to the chocolate treats; wonder where it went?). I do the exact same thing when baking for my family!

Although she has struggled with her weight for much of her adult life, the Weight Watchers point system has helped her shed over 20 pounds in the last two years. Way to go Mom!

I can only hope that the lifestyle choices my husband and I are making now will translate into continued health and activity as we age. Come back in 20 years and find out!

Does slowing down the aging process affect the choices you make today?

Tenll me about someone you know who’s aging well and happily!