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How about that headline?

It’s challenging to stay informed about the latest health information. And, quite frankly, it’s hard to know what to believe since today’s “information” may soon devolve into tomorrow’s “disinformation.” (Is the egg bad or good for us? Do we eat the egg white? Or only the yolk?) Although you and I may grow weary hearing about the “lotions and potions” we’re told will help us live longer and better lives — and then trying to discover what’s really so about the “data” — it’s also true that denial hasn’t gotten far in improving our health.

At least as far back as Benjamin Franklin we’ve been told that our life-style can extend — or limit — a productive life. “Early to bed/early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Epigenetic scientists have been long been reporting that the way we manage our stressors is a better predictor of our longevity and how we “enjoy” that aging than the traditional diseases we associate with unhealthy aging – coronary issues, cancer, obesity, etc.

Generally the elements associated with extended longevity and a healthy life are correlated with the ongoing choices we make about food, active exercise, drug, tobacco and alcohol use, activities and people who raise our blood pressure, body mass index (weight-related), sleep, stress reduction and even good companionship.

And that is what’s so exciting about this new Northern Manhattan Study! We really DO have control over how active we choose to be and those choices we make daily will eventually impact how bright our brains will remain! A small group of 876 people were monitored over a period of 12 years and asked how long and how often they exercised during the two weeks before that date. An average of seven years later, each person was given tests of memory and thinking skills and a brain MRI. Then again, five years after that, they took the memory and thinking tests again. The findings, published online by the journal Neurology, showed that 90 per cent of the group reported light exercise (walking and yoga) or no exercise. And even that type of exercise is certainly useful to do throughout our lives.

But, here’s the important “take away:” for the 10 per cent of study participants who engaged in more vigorousworkouts, the difference between the two groups was the equivalent of 10 years of less aging to their brains! Even as we age, we DO possess the capacity to extend our enjoyment of living, remain intelligently involved with our families and able to live with purpose even longer than we’d thought. How? By getting out there, really moving our bodies and choosing a less debilitating life-style.

Although we don’t want to believe everything we read – not even on this blog — there’s good news from this study. If you like what you’ve read here and are interested in reading more, buy the book,  “Oh My God! We’re Parenting Our Parents: How To Transform This Remarkable Challenge Into A Journey of Love.

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