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The Social Happiness Factor

February 2, 2018 by  
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I will get back to a more strictly financial theme in a week or two, but today I want to talk a bit more about health and longevity. Without those two things in your life, making a ton of money does not end up being very important. Making money, growing it, and keeping it are very important in anyone’s life but it is not the most important thing we work towards.

Years ago, someone asked, after the death of the richest man in the world at that time, Howard Hughes, “How much money did Howard Hughes leave when he died?” And that question was answered in three simple words: “All of it.” You can’t take it with you and it’s doesn’t help you much if you aren’t here to enjoy it.

Although I’ve talked a lot about how important it is to eat right and exercise for good health and longevity, there is one more critical element that has been proven to boost your health and add years to your life, something that I think we all need to pay more attention to. It is the “social” aspect of your life. Having an active social life also lifts your “happiness factor”, as Seth Godin points out in his book, Tribes.

There are some very good studies that shows how having a strong and active social life helps extend your longevity. I read an article by Holly Richardson last year where she told of a study on 3,000 women who had breast cancer. The article says, they “found that those who went through cancer alone were four times more likely to die from their disease than those with 10 or more supportive people.” The article goes on to note that a “six-year study in Sweden found that men with heart disease were much less likely to have heart attacks if they had good friends around them than those without that social support.”

From my casual observation, I’ve notice that the older many people get, especially men, the less social they are, whereas women tend to stay more social. Maybe that is one reason that women tend to outlive men.

I’ve noticed in my own life that the older I get the less I tend to expand my social life. I used to have a number of “tribes” that I belonged to but now basically I have only my “tennis tribe” and the other is a social club my wife and I belong to. But like I’ve said in many past blogs, “When I start preaching for my readers to challenge themselves in different parts of their life, I am also preaching to myself.”  And now by writing this blog I find I am pushing myself to create or join another tribe or two, knowing that I will most likely expand my social life and lift my happiness and contentment levels in the process.

Norway is said to have the happiest people in the world and it’s because they have broader and better social relationships. Norway was ranked the happiest nation by the 2017 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It has been found that in addition to a good social life, happiness also comes from helping others such as taking part in volunteer work.

So now we know two more thing that will help us live fuller and longer lives, and it’s something besides making money. It’s getting out and being social and helping others. Now those are some great goals you can look forward to creating and fulfilling!

On the Way to 100

January 13, 2017 by  
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It’s early January 2017 and I’m sitting on beautiful Shipwreck Beach in Kauai.  It’s the perfect temperature with a slight breeze and as I’m writing I’m also listening and watching kids, grand kids and adults laughing, playing and having an absolute blast!  To be in a place like this doesn’t take tons of money but it certainly helps, especially if you live a thousand or two thousand miles away from a warm beach.

I’ve talked quite a bit about new year’s resolutions and goals in the last few weeks, especially talking about that big financial goal or resolution you need to set for you self for 2017.  I must say, that no matter how important financial goals are, setting goals and resolutions for your health is just as important, or I should say much more important!  Look at the billions of dollars that Steve Jobs had, but all that money couldn’t buy his health or save him from the grim reaper.

I’m surely not saying that money can’t ever help your health. It really can by providing better doctors, hospitals, and the latest and greatest hi-tech procedures and medicine, but what you and I choose to do, day by day, can greatly increase our odds of having good health. We could even live to be 100 years old and arrive there in pretty good shape.

A  article from August of 2015, titled “100 Wonderful Ways to Live to 100”, quotes a book called The Longevity Project written by Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin.  In the article, it is explained that the authors’ research showed that “being conscientious was one of the best predictors of longevity. That’s because people who are conscientious may be more likely to abide by healthful behaviors, may be less prone to disease, and may find more success in relationships and in the workplace.”

In addition to that observation, I would like to share with you a few of the other article’s 100 ways to live to 100. Then maybe next week I’ll share a few more of the 100 wonderful ways and my thoughts on those. I should also add that almost all the 100 ways are backed up by good solid research. Here are a few easy one to keep in mind:

  • Don’t dread getting older…adults who developed positive attitudes about getting older live more than 7 years longer than those who had negative attitudes.
  • Find a life purpose.
  • Walk a lot.
  • Go meatless.
  • Try to keep your marriage friction-free.
  • Get your Mediterranean diet on.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Drink alcohol (but only in moderation).
  • Cut the sugar.
  • Drink your coffee-but only in moderation.
  • Join the 1 percent.

beach 1Yep, rich people live longer. It’s been proven in many studies!

Oops! I’ve got to stop for a few moments while I watch crazy, young, testosterone filled guys jump off the more than 100-foot-tall cliffs into the water. My son-in-law just did it and survived and went back and did it again. Ugh. It’s very scary.  Maybe I should add to the list of my rules for longevity and health not to take huge risks, like jumping off a cliff or out of a perfectly good airplane, even if I have 2 parachutes!

Ok, that’s all for this week. There will be a few more next week. In the meantime, let’s all go to work on these and set some hard and fast new year’s resolutions for our health and longevity.

 

An Exercise Program for You

September 23, 2016 by  
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Last week I wrote about the “New Science of Exercise” as talked about in Time Magazine.  Since science has confirmed the huge benefits of exercise for both health and longevity, I thought it was pretty darn important to give some more specifics concerning exercise.

We all know that it takes mental and physical energy to make ourselves move and move enough that it really can make a difference for a good, healthy, long life.  As mentioned in the article, the World Health Organization advises “most adults to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week and twice weekly muscle strengthening.”  But what counts as moderate-intensity exercise?

According to the article, moderate-intensity is “everything you think of as exercise plus lots of stuff you don’t, including brisk walking, playing with the kids, walking the dog, carrying heavy groceries or gardening.  Do at least 10 minutes at a time, and break it up however you want.”  This is great news because most of us could easily sneak in 10 minutes of activity here and there to make up that 150 minutes.

If you are hesitant to start or speed up your exercise program or, like many people, are not looking forward to the idea of starting a strength training regimen, please remember the ‘baby step’ concept.  You can go ahead and set big goals but concentrate on taking baby steps, especially at first so you don’t get discouraged. For instance, the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week may sound like a lot but break that up into chunks of time that work for you. It could be just two 11-minute play sessions with your kids or dog each day or 40 minutes of gardening 4 times a week or 30 minute chunks of time 5 days a week doing whatever aerobic activity sounds good that day.  Work in those two strength training sessions each week and you will be in really good shape to live a long and healthy life.

But if this still sounds like too much to take on right away, start with just 60 minutes the first few weeks—maybe 10 minutes a day with one day off–then gradually increase the number of minutes each day until you are at 150 minutes a week.

Here are a few other little secrets that have helped me with my exercise program.  First of all, I tried to work my baby steps into small but regular habits; like instead of driving down my very long drive way to pick up the morning paper I starting walking which takes about 15 minutes. Later on I started to zig zag my walk to increase the time and the total steps it took. Also, I began parking my car on the far end of the parking lot at whatever store I might need to go to. The great thing about these little activities, is that once they turn into habits, you don’t even think about what you are doing, you just automatically do it.

Another of my little secrets is that I made it a goal to get to know and hang out with more active people.  It’s also very helpful to be married to a wonderful person who seems to always be in motion. My wife helps even more by frequently asking me how much exercise or how many total steps and time I logged in for the day. Even my friends started asking me my total minutes or steps logged for the day or week. Having people around you that are interested in health and longevity and are doing it themselves, is very, very helpful and motivating. Try it and I’ll bet it works for you too!

 

 

Is There Really an ‘Exercise Cure”?

September 16, 2016 by  
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Did you see the cover of Time Magazine’s September 12-19 issue with the headline “The Exercise Cure“? That certainly got my attention! But then I wondered what did it cure? The author, Mandy Oaklanders said, “Doctors, researchers, scientists, even ancient philosophers have long claimed exercise works like a miracle drug.” She followed that up with the real attention grabber, “Now they have proof.”

Experts are not only talking about how exercise can cure sickness and disease but also how it can lengthen your lifespan. Now I don’t know about you but I find this to be pretty exciting news. After reading the entire cover story–which I recommend that you take the time to read–I’m certainly more motivated to keep up my exercise program and don’t even need to increase it. The good news is that researchers found that to get these health, curative, and longevity benefits you don’t have to go crazy with hours and hours of working out. Just regularly running or jogging for as little as 5 or 10 minutes is linked to a longer life.

In the article, examples and reasoning are discussed with Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky of McMaster University. He did a study with mice that had terrible genetic diseases. He divided the sick mice into 2 groups and for 5 months the first group was allowed to be very sedentary. (Maybe he had a mouse couch in front of a mouse TV for each of those mice in the first group? Ha ha.) The second group of mice were coaxed into running 3 times a week.

At the end of the 5 months, he found that the sedentary group was just barely hanging on. “The fur that had yet to fall out had grown coarse and gray, muscles shriveled, hearts weakened, skin thinned … even the mice’s hearing got worse. They were shivering in the corner, about to die,” Tarnopolsky says. But there was a huge difference with the second group. Quoting from this wonderful article, “… the group of mice that exercised, genetically compromised though they were, were nearly indistinguishable from healthy mice. Their coats were sleek and black, they ran around their cages, they could even reproduce. We almost completely prevented premature aging in the animals,” Tarnopolsky says.

At this point I was asking myself, “Yes, but does this exercise thing work just as well in humans?” Well, apparently it does. Doctor Tarnopolsky has found similar results happen in his ill patients–he treats kids with severe genetic diseases like muscular dystrophy. “I’ve seen all the hype about gene therapy for people with genetic disease but it hasn’t delivered in the 25 years I’ve been doing this. The most effective therapy available to my patients right now is exercise.”

Tarnopolsky now thinks he knows why. In studies where blood is drawn immediately after people exercised, researchers have found that exercise slows down the aging of cells because it increases levels of a molecule that protects telomeres so those telomeres in a person’s cells don’t shorten as fast. From everything I’ve read over the years the slower your telomeres shrink your cells the healthier your cells will be, so the cells live longer and so will you.

“Going for a run is going to improve your skin health, your eye health, your gonadal health,” Tarnopolsky says. “It’s unbelievable. If there were a drug that could do for human health everything that exercise can, it would likely be the most valuable pharmaceutical ever developed.”

So how do you go about getting the exercise you need to live a long and healthy life? Start now by getting a daily walk or run in if you don’t already. Then next week, we’ll talk more about what is recommended so you can reap the benefits of this exercise cure.

How to Live to be 142!

May 8, 2015 by  
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You no doubt have heard the rumor that all of us humans will die someday. Of course, I don’t believe every rumor I hear and this one sucks. I just don’t want to believe it! So maybe I’ll call for a huge boycott. You know, get a bunch of us older people together with big signs saying “We are boycotting death!” or “We refuse to die!” or “Death sucks and we won’t participate!” Well, it’s a nice thought but it probably won’t work. Oh yes, if we did it in front of a TV station they might put us on the news so everyone could get a big laugh out of it, but I don’t think that will help us avoid death or even prolong our lives by much.

However, there are things we can do to postpone the inevitable and live longer, stronger and in great health. In fact, there are some researchers that are “inching toward the seemingly impossible: a cure for aging,” according to the February 23, 2015 Time Magazine article. Maybe you saw that issue. On the cover was a picture of a cute baby with the headline “This Baby could Live to be 142 Years Old”. That headline certainly grabbed my attention and yes, I read every word of the several stories covering what the researchers have discovered and what we can do right now to postpone our own demise.

The main story was about “Mouse UT2598″ and the discovery of a compound called Rapamycin which seems to dramatically slow aging, at least in certain cells. If this compound works for humans it could increase lifespan to around 142 years. The research going on at the Jackson Laboratory and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, is in its early stages and researchers don’t recommend that humans start popping Rapamycin pills just yet says David Harrison because there are some down sides they have discovered at this point in their research. But the good news for me at age 71 is that they have seen that, “Rapamycin is also neat because it works even when you start quite late in life”.

So if this compound isn’t for humans just yet what can we do about it now? The obvious answer, at least to me, is to do everything in my power to stay healthy, in hopes that science figures out how humans can safely take Rapamycin. And the most effective and proven ways to do that is by eating the best foods which, according to the researchers in the Time magazine article include fish, fruits, veggies and extra virgin olive oil as well as calorie restriction, periodic fasting and consistent exercise with maybe a bit of yoga and meditation.

Do all that and you will have a significantly better chance to live longer and maybe hang in there until they perfect Rapamycin for humans. If doing all those things that you can do and should do sounds like a tough challenge, then listen to the words of William James. What he said many years ago has helped me to better my life when I could see that I needed to make changes and knew that it was going to be a big challenge. “If you change your mind, you can change your life”. I have that burned into my brain and hope you do the same.