I know that I will not live forever, but maybe, just maybe, I can make some lifestyle changes that can influence how long I do live. Most importantly I would like those years to be healthy and as active as possible.
Over the past few years I have been reading some of the work that Thomas Perls, MD has been doing with centenarians at Boston University. He has written many books, papers and articles all about the topic of longevity. He recently developed this quiz based on the latest research on what factors help lengthen a person’s life. (this quiz is recently published in Health Magazine so it’s focused a bit more towards women, but men will learn from this too) Thomas Perls, MD is the real deal and I have the highest respect for the work he has been doing.
So spend a few minutes and take this quiz. Once you figure out your number, examine your numbers to figure out on how some simple changes can potentially add years to your life. This is kind of interesting quiz and do make you think about your own health. Give it a shot. And yes, you can make some small changes in your life that can make a difference.
1. When you’re stressed, how do you handle it?
a) Very well. I thrive on it and find it motivating.
b) Pretty well. I have regular healthy outlets, like yoga, walking, or calling a friend.
c) Not so well. It’s hard for me to let problems and worries go.
2. How often do you do things that keep your brain sharp, like learning a language, playing chess, or solving crosswords?
1) A couple of times a week.
b) Between once a week and once a month.
c) Rarely or never.
3. Do you spend time with friends on a regular basis?
a) Yes, I have lots of friends, and I’m very social
b) Yes, I have a small circle of close friends whom I enjoy spending time with
c) No, I usually either go it alone or spend time just with my partner
4. Have any of your parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles lived to be 97 or older?
c) Don’t know
5. Do you have a brother, or sister with a history of heart attack or diabetes?
c) Don’t know
6. How much do you exercise?
a) 30 minutes at least five times a week
b) Some, around twice a week, and/or I regularly do something active like gardening or walking
c) Rarely or never
7. Are you at a health weight? (go to health.com/healthy weight calculator if you’re not sure.)
a) Yes, I’m within my ideal weight range.
b) Pretty close. I’m a bit above what the the charts say I should be, but I’m energetic and don’t have any weight related health problems.
c) No. I am well above my ideal weight, and I get sluggish and out of breath quicker than I’d like.
8. Do you smoke?
9. Do you floss?
a) every day
b) Once in a while
10. How often do you eat red meat?
a) 4 times a week or more
b) 2 or 3 times a week
c) Once a week or not at all
11. Did you have a child without fertility assistance after the age of 38, or did you stop getting your period completely after the age of 54?
(If you’re too young for either of these questions or don’t have children, pick “b”
12. Do you have a primary care doctor you trust whom you’ve seen in the last year?
b) No, but I see my gyno each year
13. How would you describe your sleep?
a) Great. I sleep enough so that I wake up feeling clearheaded and rested.
b) Could be better. I don’t get enough sleep, and I’m often tired during the day.
c) Not so great. I try to sleep, but I have insomnia sometimes or often.
KEY: For women start with the number 89 and add or subtract based on your answers. Males would start with 86.
1. a) 0 b)0 c)-5
2. a)+5 b)+2 c) 0
3. a)+5 b)+2 c) 0
4. a)+10 b)0 c) 0
5. a)-3 b)0 c) 0
6. a) 0 b)-2 c) -5
7. a) 0 b) 0 c) -8
8. a) -15 b) 0
9. a) 0 b) -3 c) -3
10. a) -5 b) -5 c) 0
11. a) +5 b) 0
12. a) 0 b) 0 c) -3
13. a) 0 b) -2 c) -2
Your potential age = years old.
A wonderful weekend with family – particularly our niece (12) and nephew (10) – reinforced a discovery I made a couple of years ago that very much relates to the ‘important thing’ in my recent post: being in the lives of kids and grand kids.
In the summer of ‘07, Lisa’s sister, Tracy, had asked if we would come up to their home in Northern California for the weekend and take care of the children while they enjoyed a getaway weekend out of town. I agreed, though not very enthusiastically.
To my surprise, I had the best time and felt as though I really developed a relationship with the kids (I mean, by the Sunday, they were actually laughing at my ‘stupid English puns’ and punning back at me). It took me a few months to finally figure out what made this weekend fun and the interaction with niece and nephew so different and so much better. Pause for drum roll . . . my role was clearly defined. It was as simple as that.
I was their stand-in Dad. I had very specific things to do. I took them to tutoring, I drove them to a swim meet. I played soccer with Aaron (at last, something I know about!). They taught me how they could decisively beat me at Wii tennis and make lazing on a float in the pool a less than relaxing pursuit. When it got to be too much, I told them to stop and never felt as though I was crossing some parents-only disciplining line. This weekend, I was a parent.
There was an easy give and take, a comfortable intimacy. It was the most time I’d spent with the kids sans parents and that meant our roles had to be clearly defined.
I haven’t tried it yet, but this approach should also work when the parents are present. It seems as though there needs to be a conversation about roles and expectations. I need to ask about opportunities to spend time alone with the children as well. And what parent won’t welcome that?