Moving with the Cheese
Rebeccah Mercado, MS, CHES
Aging is hard to study – Many factors involvedNotsure why we die incrementallyOnly have probabilities,certaintyis a miragePlanned obsolescenceWays to study aging:Extreme humanconditions(Everest basecamp, Space Station, Saskatchewan)Longitudinal studies
We Are all aging
DNA / GeneticsA blueprintA starting pointEpigenetics – switching on and off of gene expressionEverything that happens to us is potentially life altering“We think longevity is probably 70 – 75% lifestyle” – Dr. Brooks-Wilson
Nature or Nurture
Daily metabolism creates cellular garbage, eventually can’t sweep it all awayOxidative damageStressInflammationChronic diseaseOrgan failure or system failure
Aging or rusting
CancerCardiovascular diseaseAlzheimer’s diseaseDiabetesPulmonary diseaseAccording to the CDC, the average 75 year old suffers from at least 3 of theseOnly 2% of 85 year olds have dodged all 5
Big 5 Killers
Chronic stress is harmfulIncreased risk of cardiovascular disease,Impaired immune functionHigh blood pressureInhibited DNA repairIncreased risk of dementiaElevated blood-glucose levelsWidespread inflammationPerceived lack of control = added stressBritish study of office workers“The dominant baboon enjoys untroubled sleep”RobertSapolsky, StanfordNeuroendocrinologist
Perceived lack of control = added stressBritish study of office workers“The dominant baboon enjoys untroubled sleep”RobertSapolsky, StanfordNeuroendocrinologistWe’re no longer stressed by predators, now we’re stressed by psychosocial hassles from our own species
Acute stress is good for usChallenge yourself – master somethingdifficultAdversity Theory: “resilience is learned by facing hardship and overcoming it”“mild version” = suffering often leads to growth“extreme version” = we MUST suffer to reach the pinnacle of human flourishingSaskatchewan EffectOptimal time (sensitivity) for this type of growth – late teens through early thirties
Chronological ageBiological age – “what you can still do?”Biological clockProtein cap that seals the end of the chromosomes = telomereTelomeres protect the DNAEvery cell division slices off some of the capEventually the cell dies = age related diseaseTelomere length is set at birthLife circumstances can change the “burn rate”
What is your Age?
“All natural blessings are either mental or physical” – GalenBodily fitness & mental fitness work together – the goal is to bring them “into tune” – PlatoNeuroplasticityBrain can rewire/retrofitMental rehearsalMindfulnessMeditation
SleepSleep deprivation guts working memory & shortens lifeStudy of 15,000 US nurses (2012)Sleep/stress aidsDietNutrientsFatty acidsNo refined sugars, processed foods, etc.Hydration
What can we do?
Travel“Enriched” environmentSensory stimulation (taste, smell, sound, customs)Orienteering challenge – navigating a new place, going new waysLeaning languagesExerciseHeavy artillery against cognitive declineSudoku is a shovel vs. exercise – Dr.VaillantThe whole brain blooms“It adds life to your years”Makes every other good habit more potent – “synergy effect”
What can we do?
Grierson, B. (2015).What makes Olga run?: The mystery of the ninety-something track star and what she can teach us about living longer, happier lives. New York, New York: St. Martin's Griffin.Levine, J. (2014).Get up!: Why your chair is killing you and what you can do about it. New York, New York: Palgrave MacMillan.Swanson, L., &Vernikos, J. (2014).Scaredsitless: The office fitness book. Seattle, WA:EllessMedia, LLC.
RebeccahMercado, MS, CHESResearch Coordinator, General PediatricsProgram Coordinator, Center for Digital Health & WellnessPhD Student, College of Health & Human Performance(407) [email protected]