Archive for the tag - aging

Gay Men & Aging: A Different Approach!

HIV-and-aging-717445-300x155On my 26th birthday, people around me started reminding me that I’m in my late 20s. Apparently, this is a bad thing. Because then you’re 30, and then 40 and then 50 and so on. It’s basically, “Happy 26th Birthday. You’re dead.”

I know that a lot of us (and gay men, in particular) fear getting old. In a society and culture that worships youth and wrinkle-free skin, the inevitable effects of aging can challenge us and make us feel less desirable. Sometimes even invisible.

But I think we have it all wrong. Growing old isn’t a disease to be fought. It’s not a plague or a poison.

On the contrary, growing old is a gift. And it’s a gift that too many people in our community haven’t been able to experience. I think back to the AIDS epidemic of the 80s and 90s, and how many gay men lost their battles so early in life. I think about the fact that gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are 4x more likely to attempt suicide and that nearly 50% of transgender people have seriously complemented suicide.

In this way, growing old is something to honor and celebrate. Sure, we might get grey hairs and saggy tits, but we’re here goddamn it.

Of course, this isn’t an excuse to stop taking care of ourselves. On the contrary, staying healthy and active helps keep these bodies in working condition. As we age, let’s do so with energy, good health and minimized risk for chronic disease and ailments. Let’s make sure we get the most out of our years.

Anyway, here’s to becoming a bunch of old farts.

Exercise Prevents Wrinkles.

Things-You-Must-Know-BeforeThere are a lot of reasons to exercise. Improved health. Increased brain function. Even better sex.

Now, there’s a new reason to add to the list. According to a study from Ontario’s McMaster University, exercise also reverses the skin’s aging process.

Initially, researchers divided mice into two groups. In the first group, the mice had access to exercise wheels. In the second group, the mice lived a sedentary lifestyle. As expected, the mice in the first group enjoyed healthier hearts, brains, muscles and reproductive organs. But researchers also noticed that, unlike the sedentary mice, the exercising mice kept their fur longer and didn’t even go grey.

Researchers wondered if this might hold true for humans, and thus embarked on a small study of 29 participants, ages 20 - 84. Participants fell into two group. The first group was individuals who completed at least 3 hours of moderate or vigorous activity per week. The second group was composed of mostly sedentary individuals.

To obtain accurate skin samples that weren’t exposed to sunlight, researchers examined the participants’ butts. Sure enough, the active individuals had visibly younger skin. This even held true for participants over age 65; their skin looked like that of an individual in their 20s or 30s.

As part of the study, researchers also had sedentary participants over the age of 65 exercise for three months. At the beginning and end of the three month period, skin samples were taken from the buttocks and examined microscopically. According to the researchers, the skin looked remarkably younger by the end of the three months.

Obviously, the study was very small and more research is needed. And, of course, the real benefits of exercise aren’t just skin deep. But in an image-focused world, this new study is bound to get people paying attention - and possibly even to the gym. And that’s a good thing.



Calculate The Age Of Your Body.

male-agingEach of us has a chronological age that we count in days, weeks, months and birthdays. And then we have a biological age which is determined by the health of our bodies. This biological age is a better predictor of functional capacity at a later age than, for example, the number of times your body has circled the sun.

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have put together a very basic calculator to give some insight into each of our biological ages. It asks for your sex, exercise commitments, chronological age, waistline and resting heart rate. Then, you get your answer. According to the calculator, for example, my body is that of a teenager.

Of course, this calculator is just a very rough estimate. It doesn’t take other risk factors into account - like smoking, drug use, disease, etc. But it can still provide some good insight.

So go ahead! Calculate your biological age.

And then, in the comments below, share your chronological age and biological age. Were you surprised by the difference?

Fitness Advice for Older Adults.

Dear Davey,

I am a 63 year old male that started exercising about a year ago. I use a treadmill for an hour a day, five days a week. This amounts to about 3 miles a day. I have increased the elevation to 2 - 2.5 and increased the speed to 3 mph. Is this sufficient for someone my age?


Dear Doug,

While the amount of time you spend at the gym is certainly sufficient for great results (regardless of age), you’ll need to modify the exercises that you’re performing.

Right now, your routine focuses exclusively on cardio at the expense of strength training. Strength training is crucial - and this is especially true for aging populations. As we get older, we tend to lose our muscle mass. This muscular degeneration, in turn, limits the activities in which we’re able to engage and further slows metabolism.

By engaging in strength training, you can stop and reverse muscle loss. If you plan on spending an hour at the gym, ensure that you’re spending at least half of that time lifting weights or using the weight machines. Maintaining (or even building) muscle will greatly improve your quality of life and enhance your results.

Moreover, I remind clients that 45 - 60 minutes of cardio is the absolute maximum limit. Around and after that point, the body releases a stress hormone called Cortisol that retains belly fat. Too much cardio isn’t a good thing.

The ideal speed and incline of the treadmill is different for different people, and it depends on your goals. If you’re looking to reduce fat, it’s best to alternate between a medium and high intensity pace using a strategy called interval training. If you’re just looking to maintain general health, it’s fine to keep at a steady pace and incline - but both the speed and incline will be different for different people. You may be able to progress beyond 3 mph, or you may not. If you feel unsafe at faster speeds, keep adding to the treadmill’s incline to increase intensity.

And, of course, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before developing an exercise regime.

Davey Wavey

New Study: Use Exercise to Shave Off 30 Years.

DILF Alert: Are you my daddy?

Forget skin creams, cosmetic surgery and youth-in-a-bottle gimmicks, a newly published study by Norwegian researchers shows that exercise can shave 30 years off your body’s biological age. Sorta.

As we age, it’s no secret that our bodies transform. Our metabolisms slow down and our muscle mass tends to decrease over time. But, according to research, it doesn’t have to be this way. Phsyical activity - rather than age - is a far more important in determining an individual’s fitness level:

By increasing the intensity of your exercise, you can beat back the risk of metabolic syndrome, the troublesome set of risk factors that can predispose people to type 2 diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular problems.

The study compared measures of fitness with cardiovascular risk factors and other assessments of overall health across different ages of sedentary and active individuals. Middle-aged gym bunnies rejoice: Active 50 year-olds were found to be just as healthy and fit as less active 20 year-olds.

Researchers dug deeper into the findings and found that, in terms of effectiveness, the intensity of exercise was far more important than the duration of exercise. Rather than spending countless hours at the gym, it’s wiser to engage in shorter, high intensity workouts. Specifically, the study mentions the effectiveness of interval training (alternating high and low intensity cardio) as a quick way to improve overall fitness.

The bottom line: High intensity workouts do wonders to improve your overall health and fitness - and thus, can shave decades off your body’s biological age.

What is Wealth Without Health?

As an investment in their future finances, many adults make use of 401k plans, social security, pensions, etc. Each and every pay period, these forward-thinking individuals set money aside so that they’ll have income during retirement.

But what is wealth without health?

A 53-year study on the measurable benefits of physical activity will be published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Researchers found that individuals who were active younger in life performed better later in life. According to lead researcher, Rachel Cooper, PhD, “Increased activity should be promoted early in adulthood to ensure the maintenance of physical performance in later life.”

In other words, the exercise performed today has a cumulative beneficial effect that is enjoyed for decades to come.

There are many aspects of aging that are beyond our control, but physical activity is one important variable we can manipulate. By moving more when we’ll younger, we’ll increase performance and strength during our elderly years. And as it turns out, increases in performance and strength improve not just the quality of life, but also decrease the risk of debilitating (and sometimes fatal) disease and loss of independence.

In the same way that financial advisers tell us to save  for our retirement when we are young, so too must we invest in physical activity and exercise. And while 69% of Americans do save money for retirement, only 30% exercise regularly. Let’s change that.

Your future self will thank you.

8 Ways Exercise Keeps You Young.

Want to live a long, happy and healthy life? Research suggests that exercise might just be the fountain of youth for which you are searching.

Here are 8 age-defying effects of exercise:

  1. Faster metabolism - and less body fat. Your metabolic rate is the rate and which your body burns calories to maintain itself. As we age, this rate decreases by a few percentage points each decade until around age 50 - though the amount of food we eat, often does not. As a result, a slower metabolism is one reason (of many) that people tend to gain weight as they age. By combining both strength training and cardiovascular exercise with good nutrition, you can reverse this.
  2. Extends your life and it prevents debilitating disease and illness. Staying active has been linked to both an increase in longevity and decrease in diseases like type II diabetes and obesity. Exercise also has a positive effect on the body’s immune system, preventing illness like the flu or common cold which can become serious in older populations.
  3. Builds stronger bones. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, to create stronger and denser bones, you must put pressure on them. Just like our muscles, bones adjust to the stress put on them. Load bearing exercises and cardio like walking, running and step classes have been proven to increase bone density - making osteoporosis or breaks less likely. Exercises like swimming and cycling are less effective as they don’t put as much pressure on the bones.
  4. Younger cells. Researchers discovered that regular exercisers have longer telomeres - the DNA on either end of thread-like chromosomes. Telomere length is critical to the aging process - once telomeres get too short, cells stop dividing and die. This research suggests that the anti-aging benefits of exercise go all the way to the molecular level.
  5. Improved balance. Earlier in 2010, my grandmother lost her balance on the stairs and took a terrible fall. Though it’s been 10 months, she still walks with a cane and the whole ordeal has aged her greatly. Working out regularly helps improve balance and prevent falls - and there are a number of exercises that target balance specifically.
  6. Better flexibility. Yoga, or exercise programs that incorporate stretching, lead to dramatically improved flexibility. Like balance, flexibility helps prevent falls. And if you do take a tumble, being flexible can help minimize the risk of injury.
  7. More energy. Ever notice how you feel even more tired when you oversleep? Feeling tired and lethargic is often the result of being inactive. Endurance exercises improve stamina and energy.
  8. Improved mental health and brain functioning. Numerous studies have linked exercise to decreased stress, anxiety and depression and improved sleeping patterns and feelings of well being. Studies also show that exercisers perform better on mental tests than sedentary individuals.

Of course, if you extend the timeline out far enough, the survival rate for all of us eventually reaches zero. Exercise isn’t about escaping death; it’s really just about enhancing the quality and quantity of the time you spend on this planet. And more time on Earth = more time to share your love, touch lives and serve others.