George Bernard Shaw once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Indeed, if you’ve ever thought, “this is normal for my age” or “it’s due to old age”, then you might be limiting your potential.
While there are many age-related challenges, most are not. Yes, as we mature, there are certain changes that are inevitable, from the accumulation of oxidative stress to general wear and tear from gravity. However, while most of today’s “age-related” complaints seem normal, they are often just common. They are the result of behaviors and choices we make over a lifetime that have been accepted as normal, and which accelerate the aging process. Common (unhealthy) behaviors that have been normalized (and contribute to rapid aging) are eating processed foods, living a sedentary lifestyle, and “growing up” and attributing every ache, cold, memory lapse, etc. to getting older.
Here at SOHMA, we encourage patients to look to the “exceptions to the rule” of aging. We invite patients to notice the differences in those who are amazing examples of graceful aging–to notice how they eat, move, and think. In fact, studies have revealed that aging is related to a sociological phenomenon. People age based on how the people around them age. Look to the cultures that have more centenarians than anyone else. What are they doing differently? How do they feel about their elders in their society? A great example of healthy aging are the Rarámuri or Tarahumara Native American people of northwestern Mexico who are renowned for their long-distance running ability both young and old.
Simply put: the single biggest difference between senior patients is how they think about their challenges. Those that attribute their aches and pains to a recent workout are almost always the ones that look and feel younger than their peers. Aging is inevitable, but the way we choose to eat, move, and especially think makes the biggest difference in how we age.
Food for thought: You either get better with age, or worse. Which outlook serves you the most?