Recently I attended a lunch and learn sponsored by the University of Michigan Alumni Association entitled "Dare to be 100!" The speaker was Victor Katch, a renowned Professor of Movement Science in Kinesiology who has co-authored three college textbooks on exercise physiology and nutrition and published over 150 research papers on the topic. Needless to say he is a sought after consultant in all areas of healthy living. As a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, I know about this topic but having recently turned 50, the program peaked my interest. I am so glad that I took the time to hear the lecture and I want to share what I learned.
One of the most essential principles that Dr. Katch shared was that movement is vital to longevity. A number of studies have linked the two and the research is clear - move more, live longer. Aging is inevitable and the aches and pains that go along with it are a nuisance but adding some kind of movement into your daily life is a must. Whether you walk, ride a bike or use a recumbent elliptical like I do, try to get some exercise each day. Or to put it simply, GOYAASMA which stands for Get Off Your Ass And Start Moving Around!
Having a sense of purpose is another element that is important to longevity. Research has shown that people who get up each day with a feeling of connectedness and a mission have a better quality of life and live longer. One of the reasons that I pushed forward with registering for Dr. Katch's program was that I am interested in healthy living and networking with alumni from University of Michigan. When my schedule allows, I like to expand my knowledge base and share a meal with like minded individuals. Setting small goals for yourself to reach out, learn something new and feel connected are ways that you can feel a sense of purpose.
We know that eating healthy is important. But what does it mean? According to Dr. Katch, Americans are eating too much processed foods, too many foods that come from animals and too much salt and sugar. He encourages that we "eat food not ingredients" and try to shop at Farmer's Markets and avoid supermarkets. and lastly eat more plants and foods that don't need a label such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Having just returned from a remarkable trip to Japan, I really identified with Dr. Katch's comments on Blue Zones. Okinawa, of course, is one of the Blue Zones and my travels through Japan opened my eyes to the magic of the region. What can we learn from the Blue Zones? While there have been numerous articles written about the Blue Zones, one thing struck me about them. All of the populations are gardeners. Perhaps this lends credibility to the argument that eating from the earth and moving around daily are good for a long life. As an avid gardener myself, I find it reassuring that better health is connected to many practices that I am already doing.
I hope you will share your comments on longevity below.