Secrets to Longer Life, Part I

Secrets to Longer Life, Part I

Secrets to Life, Part 1

Many Studies have shown that daily aerobic exercise and lowering stress will prolong your life. Recently I’ve written a few columns that asked the question: “What happens if you (or I) die tomorrow?”. Morbid stuff, yes. But it is my profession to help people write Wills and Trusts, make estate plans and to probate estates, meaning I help families resolve legal matters after the death of a relative. But what do studies on exercise have to do with Wills and Trusts? The connection between the facts in the first two sentences above is that the majority of people I see who are aged 80s, 90s or beyond, stay active and have a calm, relaxed or seemingly low-stress demeanor. I observe these septuagenarians, octogenarians and even nonagenarians usually as habitually “happy” people.

The current life expectancy for American men is 76.1 years and for American women is 81.1 years. Given that, many people are actively and happily living “beyond their actuary table” life expectancy. The internet can provide an abundance of actuary stats like if you are Canadian, your life expectancy is about four years longer than Americans’. Go figure. Point is: it’s possible to exceed one’s statistically expected lifetime and I’ve seen it often.

My dad passed away almost two years ago. He exceeded his life expectancy by 9.5 years and, even though he died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, he was active as he could possibly be until the Disease took over. The last game of tennis I played with my dad was when he was 77 years old. At that time, you could say, my dad “won“ the actuary table game just by being there, alive, on the court, moving around and staying active beyond what statistics predicted. He retired over a decade before our last game and he didn’t sit around watching TV much, nor did he carry around regrets. He volunteered to help counsel prisoners and ministered at church, met in social groups, walked daily, played tennis regularly (and always beat me) and he stayed in touch with all of his children.

Did you know reducing stress delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease? Alzheimer’s is almost always preceded by the diagnosis of “dementia”. Here is what the UK Alzheimer’s Society says: “A key hormone released when you’re stressed, cortisol, has been linked to problems with memory. Stress is also closely linked to conditions such as depression and anxiety, which have also been suggested as factors that could increase risk of dementia.” As my dad’s mother also died from Alzheimer’s, which does run in families, it does seem to be a good thing personally to reduce stress as best possible.

“Too much stress in your life can ultimately lead to depression and dementia, scientists have warned. A major review of published research suggests that chronic stress and anxiety can damage areas of the brain involved in emotional responses, thinking, and memory, leading to depression and even Alzheimer’s disease.” – from the Independent, summary of a Toronto University academic review of scientific peer-reviewed studies.

What about daily aerobic exercise? Well, there is good news there too! “According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. What’s more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems.” That’s Google’s most relevant answer to the question: “Can exercise reduce Alzheimer’s risk?” So, the answer seems to be “Yes.” Aerobic exercise can be as easy as just taking a walk outside, or on a treadmill, or on some stairs, as one can make time/effort to do it. It can simply be walking your dog a little longer.

As one who is more likely to practice “exercise” than to preach it, I will be taking part in a 100-mile charitable bicycle ride on Saturday, May 4, 2019, for the Atlanta Grady Hospital nonprofit to support Grady’s trauma center. This VeloCity Atlanta upcoming event happens at Atlanta’s downtown Mercedes Benz Stadium. It’s expected to be well over 1000 people on bicycles; most people are cycling less than 100 miles. I’ve made a participant page at bit.ly/MeyVelo – Please check it out and leave a comment or support. Or even sign up(!) because it is open to the public.

It could be motivating to know that the additional benefits of exercise, which are scientifically proven, include reducing depression and reducing stress. Yes, exercise also takes effort, that is the moving of arms and legs and such, but more exercise should equal less stress.

Through my Law Firm, I help people gain peace of mind and set a plan in place in case there is the unexpected, and proverbial, “hit by a bus tomorrow“ event. Having a plan in place reduces the stress of not having a plan – especially after marriage, having kids, gaining personal assets, businesses, deeds, healthcare issues, and family complications. We also help reduce the family’s stress when a member passes away by resolving probate, legacy and trust legal issues of the decedent’s estate.

The advice I can give here without a fee, copayment or prescription, is to simply exercise daily and reduce stress. If you exercise daily, then stress reduction should follow. Can you exceed your life expectancy with these two actions? I don’t know. Try it. Only you, and not the scientists, can make it happen.

Just don’t get hit by a bus.

Have a plan for the scythe.

Got to keep moving,

for a longer less-stressed life.

“What is your most important step? The next one.”R. Meyring
“Don’t worry. Be happy.”Bobby McFerrin

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