positive, happy aging

Did you know that we basically don’t have to age?

This is an exciting topic! Truly, it is.

Not only because everybody is somehow interested in it – we all relate, earlier or later – but simply because the more research we do the more we can see that to a larger extent it is us, it is ourselves, who have a say in this process: “We are in the driver seat!”. What does this mean? Well, we have some influence on the process of aging. It is not just and only a process independently managed by our genes (this was the predominant scientific understanding of the 1970s, 80s and 90s). Research back in the 1970s already pointed out that somebody who never did any sport and was not very physically active could stop, at least slow, his cardiological aging for 20 to 30 years, if he/she would start some regular cardio training at age 40. In the late 80s and early 90s it was proven that a 60 year old man can maintain the same quality muscle structure as a 20 year old. These were exciting findings.

Oh yes, we all get “older”, but it doesn’t mean we have to age! What is the difference? Getting older is only a measure of time, the time spent in our life for example. Aging, in contrast, expresses the process of continued decline of function. Not just one or the other particular function, such as a lower cardio performance or a lower muscle strength, more and more we see and understand that virtually any physical function depends on active utilization!

The above points toward the ability of every single body system and organ to hold its capacity, if only we do the right thing. Oh yes, the right thing. We are in the driver seat, we are in a way “very responsible” for our own aging process! But, it isn’t easy to decide what the “right thing” to do would be.

Have you ever heard about epigenetics? Epigenetics was discussed 20, 30 or more years ago. But back then, molecular genetics was just in it’s most exciting upstream and all of the scientific expectation was that a single gene or the genome held all of the answers. We saw it as something like an autonomous unit that decides independently what is going to happen in one’s body. But further investigation proved that one gene rarely acts by itself. Also, the immune system as well as the nervous system seem to have a hand in our genetic activities. In other words, we are not just victim of our genes!