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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, Issue #296. Fitness Longevity
April 01, 2021
April 1, 2021
In this newsletter . . .
A while 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.
Here’s the story.
Researchers gathered two groups of 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, the extended lifespan did not come with extended fitness and health. The longer-living worms spent the extended period of their lives in a diminished state — 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. How much life extension would any of us want if the added years were to be spent in a nursing home?
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 who worked-out, our thrust may have been to develop great strength, or tremendous endurance, or even body perfection. To some extent, such objectives may remain 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. 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.
*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.
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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.
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