So What's Your Real Age?

So What's Your Real Age?

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Imagine being introduced to a doctor and the next sentence the doctor asks you, "How old are you?" You state your age honestly and the doctor says, "Yes, but what's your real age?"

This exchange is quite likely to occur if the doctor is Michael Roizen, the head of the University of Chicago Medical Center and author of Real Age. Roizen has developed a science-based test to calculate the "real age." Roizen, chronologically speaking is fifty-five, but according to the Real-Age Test he has constructed, he determines his real age to be thirty-eight.

The doctor has compiled a list of forty-four scientifically proven behaviors that can make you feel younger and live longer. The positive value of each of these behaviors has been validated by at least four clinical studies, all involving human beings. Mind you, none of these studies base findings on animal data.

Forty-four "behaviors!" Not forty-four pills, medical procedures or surgeries to improve health and longevity. Health, as might become apparent in the years to come, is, to a large extent, about healthy behaviors. Roizen says, "In fact, the remarkable thing is the data and the literature that say consistently that 70% of how well and how long you live are your choices, not your genes (Insight, Issue: 238). What you choose is up to you.

According to the present base of knowledge, you can reduce your "real age" as much as by 26 years. Thus, a 70-year old person who has consistently made healthy choices in his or her lifetime could potentially live and feel as young as a 44-year old. Know someone like that?

Perhaps, you didn't choose healthy behaviors all your life. Start now. You do not have to get one year older on your next birthday. Your mind and your body don't have to age one more year on each calendar year. As regards the real age, you can in fact get one year younger on your next birthday by stopping an unhealthy habit or starting a healthy behavior.

According to the latest scientific understanding, we get older because of three things: aging of the arteries, dysfunction of the immune system, and accidents and environmental hazards

We get older because our arteries get older. With the aging of arteries, the condition of such vital organs as the heart, brain, skin and other organs deteriorate. Deterioration of these organs results in such negative outcomes as heart disease, stroke, memory loss and wrinkling of the skin.

Arteries oxygenate and deliver nutrients to your muscles. Make it a point to exercise and revitalize your body. If you keep your arteries young by exercise, vitamins and foods rich in antioxidants, you supply rich blood and nutrients to your body and brain. You will have more energy to stay active and mind is likely to stay sharp.

When the immune system gets older, it can become hyperactive, under active or simply erratic. Stress is the biggest enemy of the immune system and longevity. Excessive stress and negative thinking can seriously compromise the immune function. A major life stress such as loss of a loved one, divorce, or forced relocation, if poorly handled, can add eight years to your life for the year after they occur. But, you can regain those years.

If you face a major life stress such as this and you feel you are having a tough time dealing with it, join a support group, practice relaxation or meditation and reframe the situation in a positive way to reduce the stress.

Accidents and environmental hazards are a major agent of disability and death. All accidents and hazards are not like a bolt out of the blue over which we mortals have no control. We do. Eighty percents of all accidents are avoidable. Helmets, belts, cautious driving and other safety measures, at work or home, are instruments of better health, quality of life and longevity.

Environmental toxins such as cigarettes, pollution and pesticides add to the real age. Smoking can make you eight years older. However, learning to live safely will make you 12 years younger, in terms of your real age.

Regular exercise over time can add eight years to a man's life and nine years to a woman's.

One of the steps for stress management and exercise, recommended by Roizen, is walking thirty minutes a day with a friend. This way, you can get your exercise and derive powerful benefits of a relationship bond.

Stay abreast the latest research on vitamins, so you know which ones to take and the ones to avoid. Vitamin B, C and E, nuts and certain fish oils are good for both brain and the body, and may also play a part in overall mood improvements.

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 2003, Mind Publications 
Posted March 2003


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