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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, Issue #366. An antidote to decrepitude
March 15, 2024

Antidote to Decrepitude

A few years ago, Scientific American* published an article suggesting that living longer doesn’t necessarily mean living better. It’s a lesson learned from the tiny roundworm called C. elegans, a common workhorse in basic biology lab work.

Researchers gathered two groups of the roundworms. One group was put on a calorie-restricted diet, the other not. What they found was they could extend the lifespan of the worms on a very low calorie diet. But the “health-span” — that is the period of worm fitness and health — was the same in both groups. In other words, an extended lifespan did not come with extended fitness and health. Rather, the longer-living worms spent the extended period of their lives in same diminished state as the other worms — with less mobility and stress resistance.

Of course aging worms are not aging people. But if the findings do extend to people, as some scientists suspect, then life-extension efforts may not result in a better old age, just more years of frailty. Question: How much life extension would any of us want if the added years were to be spent in a nursing home?

The challenge.

Jack LaLanne used to say he didn’t care so much how long he lived (though he was active in his 90s and died at 96). What he most cared about was his quality of life while he lived. We can’t all be Jack LaLanne, but there are lessons to be learned.

The purpose of following a fitness lifestyle evolves as we age. As young people our workouts may have been to develop great strength, or tremendous endurance, or even body perfection. To some extent, such objectives may still exist with us as seniors, but to a much lesser degree, I would think. More important, our primary objective as we age should be to extend our health-span. That is, to stay as fit and healthy as possible for as long as possible.

Here is where resistance exercise comes in: free weights, machines, and/or resistance bands are the antidote to decrepitude. Because a primary culprit in old age is the withering of muscle that robs the elderly of strength and, eventually, their independence. While resistance training, along with some cardiovascular work and flexibility movements, preserve the quality of youth like nothing else.

Discover more about the miracle of resistance exercise here.

Stay healthy. Stay fit.


Senior Exercise Central

*Founded in 1845, Scientific American is the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States. It is a leading source for science, technology information and policy for a general audience.

Spread the word. If you like the newsletter, please forward it to a senior friend or acquaintance.

Photographs: Subscribers have asked when the newsletter photo at the top of the page and my website pictures were taken. Well, I was a mere 70 years old then. I’m 87 now. Though I remain active, I am no longer nearly as strong or muscular as I was 17 years ago. —LF

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Newsletter Policy

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

Like newspapers, magazines, and television, this newsletter and my website contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.

The newsletter and website provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you.

Your comments and questions are always appreciated. Simply click on the "Reply" bottom.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter

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