The Secret to Longevity?

Charlie Gubish’s 100th Birthday Cake

Earlier this month, on Ground Hog day, my grandfather turned 100 years old.  Amy’s grandmother passed-on at the age of 104.  With those genetics on our side, we are both planning on being here a while.  If you think about it, we really haven’t even lived half of our lives yet if we do live as long as our grandparents.  That is a bit scary to think about for too long.

It struck me that there is a common bond amongst our grandparents; they both grew up on farms.  I don’t know the details of farm life, but I imagine it involves waking up early, doing a lot of physical work out in the sun and other elements, eating good food produced on the farm, and retiring to bed at an early hour – likely not long after the sun goes down.  After all, you literally have to get up early with the chickens the next day.  And, in the present day my grandfather still acts like he’s getting up with those chickens (or maybe even before!) to do calisthenics and use the resistance machines in the center he lives in as early as 3:30-4:00 am. 

I was thinking about the past when there were no gyms.  People just moved and got their “exercise” doing normal everyday tasks.  Amy and I do go to the gym but shun the automation of today as much as we can.  This allows us to get more movement into our day.  While the neighbors are using snow blowers to clear a mere 40-feet of sidewalk, we are using the shovel; they use the leaf blower in the fall for leaves (and on light snow days), we are using the rake and the shovel or even a broom.  And dare I mention the last unbelievable sight I saw of a man cleaning the snow off of his car with the leaf blower?  How lazy can you get?  And then onto summer and grass cutting–until recently we did cut our grass with an old reel push mower.  We finally got an electric push mower.  Granted our yard is not that big, but if it were, I’m pretty sure we would NOT be using a riding mower.  No robot vacuum in our house, and we’ve never used the dishwasher in our house. 

One of the keys to living long and healthy is just keep MOVING.  First, move in any way you can.  It is better than not moving.  However, it is also good to do some lifting of heavier objects to not only remain strong, but also to maintain and even gain bone mass.  This article discusses a study among women concerning bone density.  Please read the article for the full effect, but the gist is: the women who did light weight resistance training LOST bone density, but the group that used higher resistance of 80%-85% of the weight they could lift only one time actually GAINED bone density most notably in their low back and hip which is huge for preventing a fracture that could be debilitating.

Another favorite of mine, Dan John, writes in this article how he keeps it simple with only 5 moves that could make a great impact as they are based on moves we need to complete in everyday life. Also called “functional training” which is a buzz phrase that people toss around a lot these days. 

You can read more about the commonalities amongst people with the longest longevity here

You’ll notice that “move naturally” is at the top of the list.  So, turn off the electronics and go move; lift something, carry something, clean something, take your dog for a walk or walk with your kids, whatever it is just move, and move often.

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