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Want to live longer and healthier?

Do this ONE thing.

In today's world, we possess a wealth of medical knowledge and have made significant advancements in treating various conditions, leading to longer lifespans. However, a pressing issue remains: as we live longer, our quality of life often deteriorates due to age-related physical problems such as joint issues, sensory impairments, and memory decline. These challenges greatly impact our lives and families, prompting us to explore strategies for staying healthier for longer periods.

I recently finished the book, Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity, by Dr. Peter Attia, a physician (and local resident here in Austin) specializing in the applied science of longevity and overall well-being. With extensive training at Johns Hopkins Hospital and experience as a surgical oncologist at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Attia’s expertise spans nutritional interventions, exercise physiology, sleep physiology, mental and emotional health, and pharmacology aimed at extending lifespan and improving healthspan.

About Dr. Peter Attia:

Dr. Peter Attia holds an M.D. from Stanford University and a B.Sc. in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics. In addition to his training at prestigious institutions, he has been mentored by leading experts in lipidology, endocrinology, gynecology, sleep physiology, and longevity science. Dr. Peter's career extends beyond medicine; he is the Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of the fasting app Zero and serves as an advisor or investor in several health-related companies.

His take on Lifespan vs. Healthspan:

It's crucial to differentiate between lifespan and healthspan. Lifespan refers to the length of time we live, which is increasing steadily. While this trend is positive, the problem lies in the prevalence of chronic health conditions that significantly diminish our quality of life during these extended years. Living until the age of 90 or 100 is admirable, but if those last decades are plagued by pain or neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's, the enjoyment of life is compromised. While our lifespan expands, our healthspan—the duration of time spent in good health—often does not. This challenge drives doctors like Dr. Peter Attia to seek solutions.

"Healthspan encompasses three aspects: cognitive function, physical well-being, and emotional resilience. These include brain health, muscle strength and mobility, freedom from pain, and the ability to manage distress effectively." – Dr. Peter Attia

Of the various ways we can delay the deterioration of brain and body, many of which Attia explores in his book, he says the most potent longevity “drug” is exercise. This was my biggest take-away from the book. Along with his many in-depth recommendations about life and health, there’s no doubt that exercise is key!

“I used to prioritise nutrition over everything else,” writes the 50-year-old father of three. But, he says: “The data are unambiguous: exercise not only delays actual death but also prevents both cognitive and physical decline, better than any other intervention.” It is the single most potent tool we have in the health-span-enhancing toolkit—and that includes nutrition, sleep, and meds.”

In order to become, as Attia puts it, a “kick-ass 100-year-old,” you have to train as if you’ll actually get there. In his book, he encourages you to consider the ten most important physical tasks you want to be able to do for the rest of your life and then train to do those things—a concept he’s coined the “Centenarian Decathlon.”

Here’s his example list:

  1. Hike 1.5 miles on a hilly trail

  2. Get up off the floor under your own power, using a maximum of one arm for support

  3. Pick up a young child off the floor

  4. Carry two five-pound bags of groceries for five blocks

  5. Lift a twenty-pound suitcase into the overhead compartment of a plane

  6. Balance on one leg for thirty seconds, eyes open (bonus points: eyes closed, fifteen seconds)

  7. Have sex

  8. Climb four flights of stairs in three minutes

  9. Open a jar

  10. Do thirty consecutive jump-rope skips

Attia’s workout recommendations

In order to perform these long-term goals later in life, Attia recommends hitting all four fitness pillars each week:

  • Stability: one hour, split into 5 to 10 minute blocks done before your other workouts

  • Strength: three 45 to 60 minute full body workouts targeting all major muscle groups

  • Aerobic Efficiency: four 45 to 60 minute zone 2 cardio workouts

  • Anaerobic Performance: one 30 minute VO2 Max workout

Pick up a copy of Peter’s book today!

Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity

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