Dr. Henry S. Lodge, MD, FACP co-author of the New York Times Bestseller book, “Younger Next Year,” shares his expert insight on turning back your biological clock to help prevent the normal problems of aging, such as: bad balance, sore joints and weakness.
“Live strong, fit and sexy, until you’re 80 and beyond!” This tagline from “Younger Next Year” definitely catches your attention. We all know that there is not really a fountain of youth, but Dr. Lodge discusses research that supports aging more gracefully — something everyone can learn more about.
As an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and a Board Certified Internist practicing in Manhattan, Dr. Lodge uses “star patient,” 79-year-old co-author Chris Crowley as an example of living proof that someone can age and continue to be fit and healthy, well into their autumn years.
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There are 7 rules Dr. Lodge discusses in his book:
Dr. Lodge took time away from his book to answer a few of our questions to help educate and inspire our readers from his research regarding aging related to genetics and compared to lifestyle.
A Place for Mom (APFM): Tell us why you think that most of aging is decay and lifestyle choices?
Dr. Lodge: Well that’s the data. If you look at the burdens of illness and fatalities in America in regards to disease there shows to be a large lifestyle component. Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, stroke — and many of the cancers — stem from choice of lifestyle. When you do the math while looking at the statistics, at least two-thirds of people are directly affected by lifestyle.
APFM: How is co-author, 79-year-old Chris Crowley, “living proof” of the effectiveness of the 7 rules to help “turn back the biological clock” that you discuss in your book?
DL: Chris and I recently went for a spur-of-the-moment 50 mile bike ride. He’s fully active and speaking and living a wonderful life.
APFM: Do you think genetics or lifestyle has a bigger influence on human life span and healthy aging and living?
DL: Extreme longevity is mostly genetic; anything less than that is much more related to lifestyle habits. Certainly quality of life is based on lifestyle.
APFM: What’s the number one piece of advice that you can give to live a healthy, long life?
DL: Move your body and have caring relationships with people. Being emotionally engaged and physically fit are the two greatest keys to successful aging. Being a part of caring community — whether it’s family, friends or organization — is known to extend life and reduce stress.
APFM: How can people really become “younger next year?”
DL: Well, two-thirds of aging is really false aging because of the way we live bad lives. If we “step-it-up” in turns of regular exercise and emotional engagement and nutrition, we can reverse aging by two-thirds.
APFM: What do you suggest to those who have experienced physical ailments that prevent normal exercise?
DL: Having physical ailments means exercise is even more important for an individual as the stakes go up. Even those who have had open-heart surgery are asked to stand up shortly after.
APFM: How can people maximize the fitness and lifestyle that you discuss in your book?
DL: You don’t need to get complicated with this… As long as you go out and sweat you’re doing your body of service — a wonderful job. It doesn’t really matter what the latest and greatest is; it’s important to just get moving and started.
APFM: What would be a daily activity that you’d recommend for people?
DL: As you age some people think it’s important to work on strength training, but I think it’s simpler; things like climbing stairs. Climbing stairs is a great balancing exercise and it’s the single most important thing to improve the quality of life as we get older.
APFM: How does lack of sleep factor into aging?
DL: Lack of sleep is an epidemic that makes all of the burdens of aging worse. It probably doesn’t do any damage, but it robs you of quality of life on a day-to-day basis.
APFM: How many hours should the average senior sleep?
DL: Most people need no longer sleep than eight hours in one night as they age. If you are getting at least eight hours of sleep out of the 24 hours in the day, that’s ideal.
APFM: Can you explain Alzheimer’s disease and dementia’s role in aging and whether you think there’s a way to prevent the onset of symptoms?
DL: Actually Alzheimer’s is a very lifestyle driven disease — poor diet, isolation and living. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s but you can modify the risk enormously by living a healthy, active lifestyle.
APFM: Tell us more about the topics in your book series. Is there one book you recommend most to readers?
DL: The incredible importance of real emotional communication and fitness are the most important. You have to be ready to work at having a wonderful life.
What do you think is the most important daily practice to aging gracefully? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Dr. Henry S. Lodge, MD, FACP, is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and a Board Certified Internist practicing in Manhattan. He is ranked as one of the “Best Doctors in America,” and is listed in Marquis’ “Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare,” “Who’s Who in Science and Engineering,” and “Who’s Who in the World.”
He is the co-author of the New York Times bestseller “Younger Next Year” and “Younger Next Year for Women” — which have sold more than a million copies in the U.S., and have been published in 17 languages around the world. He is the host of the PBS show “Younger Next Year: The New Science of Aging,” a Contributing Medical Editor for SELF Magazine, and a sought-after speaker to corporate and nonprofit audiences.