“To restore life to your life, to defeat aging,to regain the youth you still possess, get your body in motion.”

How old I look is important to me. Physicians, however, primarily concern themselves with biological age. How old are the arteries? The kidneys? The heart? Those questions run through a doctor's mind when faced with a patient who looks older than expected. In my practice, I have seen many people whose lifestyles accelerated their biological aging. Our optimal life span is a little over 100 years---some say 120. But we begin quite early in life to diminish our longevity and ultimately settle for less. Blame part of this loss on our gene pools. Some people come from short-lived stock susceptible to the major killers: heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Some are vulnerable to artery disease and high blood pressure. These people must be very diligent in order to maintain their normal biological ages. We also have a physiological age, measured by our physical fitness. If you didn't know your chronological age, how old would you be? Surprisingly, the average American is 30 years older functionally than he or she is chronologically. An active 60-year-old and an inactive 30-year-old will have equal physical work capacity. At one time, physiologists thought people aged functionally from 10-15 percent a decade. Now we know this is far from the truth. Fit individuals show about a five percent loss in endurance per decade. The distance world records for the 40 age-group fall within 5 percent of actual world records. At age 50, they come within 10 percent. At age 60, they are close to 15 percent. These statistics clearly show that apparent aging can be blamed largely on inactivity. Inactive people give aging a bad name. People think it is normal to look, perform and have the arteries of a person 20 to 30 years older. When they see a truly normal individual, they typically remark how young he or she looks. Yet, we can all stay young. We can all hold the aging process at bay. Many individuals prove we can remain lithe and supple. Loss of flexibility says we are old even when we feel young inside. That's why yoga and range-of-motion exercises should become our best friends. Keeping our arteries young is a life-long task. We must not accept the generosity of medical advisors who allow us to weigh more and have higher cholesterol because we've grown too old for it to matter. It always matters. Cardiologist Paul Dudley White, pioneering fitness advocate of the 1950's, said we should not gain a pound after age 25. And, I would add, we shouldn't gain a milligram of blood cholesterol, either. Among these undertakings, we can maintain youthful performance the easiest of all. We can forget whatever ravages time has done and simply put our bodies into action. With use, our bodies grow young. And over time we can regain the physiological losses we have incurred by sitting around on our duffs. "Life is motion," said Aristotle. To restore life to your life, to defeat aging, to regain the youth you still possess, get your body in motion. There you have it. A prescription to make your chronological, biological, and physiological ages coincide. When that occurs, you may find that other people your age view you as an oddity. "Why don't you act your age?" they will ask. And you can reply, "I am." (1988)