Dr. Andrew Weil is back with another bestseller — Healthy Aging. Weil has probably done more than anyone else to bring so-called conventional medicine and holistic medicine together. Before him, most doctors and the American Medical Association pretty much looked down on the notion of “alternative” approaches to medicine.
Time magazine recently did an excerpt from Dr. Weil’s latest book, which was interesting enough to make me want to buy it. Weil sees aging as “a continuous and necessary process of change that begins at conception.” He further explains the importance of learning “how to live in appropriate ways in order to maximize health and happiness.”
Dr. Weil goes on to say that what is appropriate in your twenties is not likely to be appropriate in your fifties. He uses the example of men in their thirties and forties who injure themselves playing contact sports or exercising improperly, and further points out that one of the secrets of healthy aging is “being willing to let go of behaviors more suited to younger bodies.”
I can relate to this mistake, because when I was in my late thirties and early forties, I became an exercise addict. I religiously lifted weights to the limits of my capacity and played racquetball five days a week. Plus, I jogged at least five mornings a week, always sprinting the last quarter mile.
Without mentioning a plethora of less-serious injuries, I broke my right foot, broke my left big toe, had to have arthroscopic surgery on both knees, severely injured my back, and had to endure an excruciatingly painful tendon operation on my right shoulder.
Being the bright young man that I was, I eventually recognized that perhaps I was overdoing it a bit. My sixteen-year-old mind simply couldn’t keep up with my forty-year-old body.
I agree with most of what Dr. Weil says about aging gracefully, but there’s another important point to be made about exercise in particular: The more you overdo it, the less likely you are to continue exercising throughout life.
So, when it comes to exercise, one of my favorite maxims applies: Moderation is the best policy. If you want to (1) increase your chances of living a longer and healthier life, and (2) continue to exercise throughout life, you’d be wise to take a moderate approach to exercise.