So, people are projected to live longer, barring apocalyptic events or wanton acts of nation state nihilism it appears that surpassing the longevity of parents and grandparents is becoming conventional wisdom and this phenomenon which has been paralleled with increased wealth in the West, at least overall will have broad and significant implications both and social and economic requiring the resourcefulness inherent in the human ability for adaptation to surmount the challenged. The following is from an abstract from Michael Ferguson ( Link at end to site and subscription information):
Michael Ferguson: Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes just died at age of 93. It is very quickly becoming the case that the biblical ‘three score and ten’ is becoming ‘four score and ten.’ Th two longest living presidents were Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, both 88, are threatening to make it the case that the last four Presidents to die were also the four oldest presidents, The question is, ‘Why is this happening?’ It is true that medical technology is improving rapidly. However, is that all the explanation? Probably not. Some of it is almost surely about changing attitudes and the changing behaviors that they elicit.
We know that two of the important culprits of aging are shortening telomeres and deteriorating mitochondria. We are discovering that exercise rejuvenates mitochondria. This is a bit of a catch 22, then, because mitochondria are also the producers of our body’s energy. The worse your mitochondria the less you feel like exercising. Yet if you do exercise your energy level will improve. Recently, we are beginning to discover that the same may be true about telomeres. In fact, some researchers are going so far as to say that this is the mechanism by which exercise can actually make us live longer
This leads to the speculation that we have a bifurcated older population … Those who adhere to the 1950′s notion that as we age our bodies become more breakable and, therefore, we need to stop engaging in the more strenuous activities are espousing an antiquated attitude. We now know that this behavior, rather than preserving what is left of the mileage on our body, leads to deteriorating mitochondria, loss of energy and the risk of type 2 diabetes. We also know that it leads to shorter telomeres, loss of muscle mass and higher risks of cancer….
…However, there is a growing group of seniors who embrace the philosophy of much more active golden years. They have made the commitment to ‘run through the tape.’ In other words, they have a different attitude about how older people should behave and the behavior seems to create the physical ability to engage in those behaviors. Until recently, it wasn’t clear that this was a feasible course of action. There has always been a question about the direction of the causal arrow with exercise and life expectancy. Do healthy people feel better and therefore are they more inclined to be more active and also live longer? Or are people who are active more inclined to be healthy and live longer?…
The implication of Ferguson’s analysis implicates some transformative behavior. It is not just a question of doing some exercise. Its the entire body, mind and soul dynamic which could include a shift away from industrial food, repackaged food, transformed food towards a more sane caloric intake. That is, much of our agro-industrial food complex is going to have to adapt or be supplanted. In this scenario , we know that half of supermarket space or more is devoted to junk. Junk food that they have attempted to “healthify” but still almost to be considered decorative and ornamental food product of symbolic proportions. It is unfathomable that Doughnut and fast food enterprises are going to embark on sprouted grains etc. It’s like a dollar store transforming itself into something it cannot be; a jumping the shark moment that will defy credulity. People willalso be growing their own food; it costs more, but if incomes rise they will so; Ferguson also talks of a bifurcated population, which implies two sorts of citizenry: the industrial age consumer buying into the pathologies of the older system and this new shopper who would not go near the 99cents breakfast special.
Ferguson: …We now see the mechanisms by which exercise leads to longer life and we can feel more confident in stating that the spread between the classifications of sedentary and very active is about 3.7 years. That is minor compared to the ten year difference between the smoker and the non-smoker. However, it is more than any other behavior modification. As these two behaviors begin to take hold and work their way into the older generations, the current increase in life expectancies in the older decades will
inue to increase significantly. 21% smoke, providing a 2.1 year potential life span gain. However the current distribution of activity is very poor, which provides as much as another 2.5 year lifespan gain. This, alone will give the 60 year old of today an increase from a life expectancy of about 83 to almost 88. 90 year lifespans are already in reach….
…As I was just saying to a colleague, the fact that we are not going to die twenty years from now but rather forty years from now has little relevance for twenty years. Save for the point at which we really believe it. Then it will become immediately relevant because we will behave differently. We will think of our careers, our marriages, our relationships, and our avocations differently and we will immediately behave differently with regard to them. Read More:http://thefuture101abstracts.blogspot.ca/2012/04/attitude-exercise-and-living-to-90.html?spref=fb
Even our approach to fitness will have to be transformed. Are health clubs that healthy? The machines are usually not cleaned well, and the air is poor, and although weather prevailing, people should be outdoors, the path of least resistance is to go through the paces at the club like a hamster or a competitive animal. Companies have arisen such as the Princeton Longevity Center, and much more dodgier outfits focused on improving the aesthetics of age; the increasing use of elective aesthetic surgery, all point to a commodification of what Michael Ferguson is talking about that will impede some of the revolutionary possibilities in his understanding. Its a leap of faith to think Western consumerism is going to sacrifice itself to a lifestyle of the Tarahumara Indian or the pastoral legacy of James Hilton’s Lost Horizon…