Wednesday, September 29, 2004

On Aging, or Lack Thereof: Anecdotal Evidence

Jack Lalanne as a young man

Jack Lalanne as a young man

I spent a nice (birthday) weekend with my wife Kathleen in Santa Barbara. Our motel was a half-block from the beach, and another block along the beach to the pier.

Sunday afternoon we spent at the Santa Barbara Zoo, my first time to see this zoo. I especially enjoyed the lion cub with mom, the large male silverback gorilla, and the zebras, one with a crooked neck.

In Monday morning's complimentary newspaper (USA Today) was a feature on the legendary Jack LaLanne. Jack reminds me of my Uncle Dan Bulkley. Dan was a coach at Southern Oregon University, Ashland, Oregon. After retirement, he became a competitor in Senior Olympic type competitions and remained in fantastic shape.

Jack LaLanne and his wife Elaine live in my home town of Morro Bay, CA on a 3.5 acre spread back of town. He is a local legend.

Jack and Elaine

Jack and Elaine

Jack's birthday is Sept. 26 (mine is Sept. 25) and he was in New York City to celebrate.

Jack is one data point on how to be fit at ninety years of age.

Miscellaneous Jack comments on how to do it:

"Exercise is King; diet is Queen"

"If man made it, avoid it": Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and fish. No white flour, white sugar. Avoid processed foods. No snacking."

"You don't get old from calendar years. You get old from inactivity. That's the killer"

Jack gets up at 5 AM each morning, seven days a week, and works out in his home gym for one hour, and then another hour in his home pool (equipped with a variable water flow to swim against).

Jack says: "I hate to work out. I'd rather take a beating. To leave a hot bed and a hot woman to go into a cold gym at five in the morning - that takes discipline. But I like the results. "

"You get to be 90 and everyone goes, 'Well how'd the old poop do it? What's his secret?' I tell them: 'Clean thoughts and dirty girls' "

“It's never too late. Test after test shows that even people in their 90s who begin a weight training program can double their strength and endurance in 6-8 weeks. You don't inherit this stuff. You've got to do it.”

“I don't want seniors working out 2-3 hours a day,” he said. “That's ridiculous. If you walk from 12-17 minutes three times a week, that's all you need for cardiovascular fitness.”

Jack and Elaine

Simple Chair Exercises


Still vigorous at 89, Jack LaLanne offers these tips for longevity:

•Exercise 30 minutes a day, three to four times a week. Change your routine every two to three weeks.
•Set short-term fitness goals and follow through.
•Slowly change a few bad habits by starting good habits.
•Eat foods in their natural states and in as many varieties as you can.
•Pass on caffeine, sugar and cigarettes.
•Drink plenty of water.
While I was on the physics faculty at Cal State Long Beach, I recall a colloquium by a young biologist from U.C. Irvine about aging and its prevention.

He was interested in how long human life could be prolonged in principle, given the gradual and natural deterioration of the human body. His research implied a maximum of about 120 years.

Just think of how the crisis in Social Security and Medicare would change for the worse if a typical person survived that long. Of course retirement ages would probably increase in proportion.

Jack and Elaine

You're Never To Young To Start PushUps!!


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