Excerpt: "You: Staying Young"

What you will learn in this book is how to nudge your systems so that they work in your favor, to create leverage points in life. And the great thing is that it's never too early or too late to start making these changes. You don't need a complete overhaul, because, frankly, your body is a pretty fine piece of machinery. What you'll ultimately do is find and fix your own personal weak links?the things that make you most vulnerable to the effects of aging. The cumulative effect of those nudges, though not major from a behavioral or even a biological perspective, can be huge when it comes to increasing the length and quality of your life.

The truth about aging is that you -- right now -- have the ability to live 35 percent longer than expected (today's life expectancy is seventy-five for men and eighty for women) with a greater quality of life and without frailty. That means it's reasonable to say that you can get to one hundred or beyond and enjoy a good quality of life along the way. While relying on the talents, skills, and knowledge of others may get you out of a medical jam, what you really want is to avoid it in the first place. Restricting calories, increasing your strength, and getting quality sleep are three of nature's best antiaging medicines. Together, these activities -- as well as the other actions we recommend -- control 70 percent of how well you age. Wouldn't you want to hold the power of your future in your hands, rather than put it in someone else's?

Just because you've made mistakes in the past doesn't mean you can't reverse them. Even if you've had burgers for breakfast or fried your brain cells with stress, you're not necessarily destined to wear husky pants and forget birthdays. No matter what kind of life you've already led, aging is reversible: You can have a do-over if you want it. If you perform a good habit for three years, the effect on your body is as if you've done it your entire life. Even better, within three months of changing a behavior, you can start to measure a difference in your life expectancy.

As we said, aging is inevitable, but the rate of aging is not. Consider this fact: Only 10 percent of people are classified as frail when they're in their seventies. By the time people reach one hundred, almost 100 percent are considered frail. What we're trying to do is make sure that percentage stays lower for longer. We want you to feel as good at the end of the race as you do at the start.

Our goal here is to ensure that you have a high quality of life until whatever time -- forgive our bluntness -- you drop dead. That's the ideal scenario, right? Nobody wants to spend their golden years on diets of Jell-O, suffering from bedsores, or not remembering the previous nine decades. You want to feel like you're thirty even when you're eighty. You want to have the wisdom of a grandparent without feeling like one. So our goal isn't to get you to 120?unless those 120 years come with quality.

After all, living longer shouldn't be about "taking longer to die," which is what so many people think it means. It should be about enjoying every moment of a longer life?and taking longer to live.

You want to live long and live well. You want to feel alive while you're living. You don't want to grow old. You want to stay young. This is the way. Now hup to it.

From YOU: STAYING YOUNG by Michael Roizen & Mehmet Oz. Copyright © 2007 by Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Oz Works LLC. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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