"We don’t quit playing because we grow old; we grow old because we quit playing."
“Aging is inevitable, but no reason to associate it with pain, disability or mental decline.
Researchers in the field of gerontology support the positive effect of the following life activities on our health and aging.
Since a high stress environment is dangerous to health and longevity, the practice of mental approaches to reduce stress are the cost effective and safe ways to control stress, and have been proven effective for centuries.
An active life—having a reason for living—can prolong life. We know that people who are young have eager, inquisitive minds. They are curious, always seeking and evaluating answers. They are willing to try something new — a new approach to a job, a new kind of music, a new response to a recurring situation.
"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."
Good marriage and social life can prolong life. For example, married couples live longer than single people with an otherwise similar social life. These effects may be due in part to reduced stress as compared to lonely people.
Mental exercises such as reading and crossword puzzles, and physical aerobic exercises for about 15 minutes, three times a week can go a long way towards preserving the body and mind. However, exertion can actually shorten lifespan. So the message is to do but don’t overdo.
Note: Between 1930-1960 the medical profession regarded vigorous exercise as a form of stress that would wear out the body. We know now that in contrast to machines which wear out with use, human organs and tissues develop an adaptive increase in function with use that runs counter to the changes which occur in aging.
Seven guidelines, some of which are familiar to us, have been suggested by various health experts to prolong life. These include no smoking, moderate weight, moderate drinking, physical activity, eating breakfast, regular meals, and sleeping seven or eight hours–but not less than six or more than nine.
An active sex life, in general, is suggested to prolong youthful health. In healthy old men, the sex hormone testosterone has been observed at levels similar to those of younger men and sexual activity is related to hormonal level. Which comes first—the hormone level or active sex life—researchers have yet to determine. Observations on people over sixty have indicated that men and women do not lose their physical capacity for sexual performance (in terms of erection and orgasm). Sex experts believe that sexual activity helps to preserve sexual functioning and youthful feelings.
A survey of people over 100 (Parade, October 16, 1988) showed that besides genetic propensity and physical activity, centenarians share characteristics such as:
Discipline–set standards and achieve them.
Altruism–not self-centered but people-oriented.
Optimism–continue to make plans for the future.
Spiritual faith–even extra body experience that nothing can really harm and living without fear.
Love of life–enjoy simple pleasures with unashamed enthusiasm.
In the overall conclusion, safe habits to prolong life include proper nutrition, a diet rich in fiber from fruits and vegetables, and low in animal fat, sugar and refined foods. Certain aging theories suggest a possible role of vitamin E and C and foods rich in nucleic acids as another nutritional aspect of long and healthy living. However, some of the ideas of the eastern world such as yogic breathing for vigor and vitality, postures to keep youthful body flexibility, and the effect of mind on our health and performance, are very important for healthy and youthful living. These ideas of the eastern world that are based on centuries of experience are certainly safe and effective as compared to the modern aging theories which are still in the exploration stage.
“I don’t believe in AGE. I believe in ENERGY…93-years old Yoga-teacher."
References: “Forever Young: How To Fight The Aging Process