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Physician for Palo Alto Medical Clinic
Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University
Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board for the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation
Columnist for Runner’s World magazine
Former President of the American Geriatrics Society
Past Co-chair of the AMA's Task Force on Aging
Graduate of Williams College & the University of Pennsylvania Medical School
He and his wife are avid marathon runners
CBN.com According to Dr. Walter Bortz, the ultimate challenge of anyone's life is the opportunity to make the most of it that can be made. Who you get to be--how old, wise, competent, active, creative, sexy, fun you become--depends on largely how you plan. Decrepitude and loss are not predetermined. Like the turtle, how you set your course is highly predictive of the journey you will take.
“For most animals, acquiring enough nutrition is a problem; for us, it's the opposite -- we have to avoid taking in more than our bodies require…but no matter what your size or age, the more you move, the better your body will utilize your vitamin and mineral intake,” says Dr. Bortz.
LIVE LONGER WITH FITNESS
According to Dr. Bortz, most of the negative things we associate with aging aren't a result of chronological aging, but rather, a lack of physical activity…when you stop using yourself, you decay rapidly. Dr. Bortz believes you can gain vitality even in advanced ages... it’s never too late to start exercising, but never too soon to stop. Research indicates that a fit person is 30 years younger than an unfit person is. A 2001 study found that women 50 and older lowered their systolic blood pressure 12 points more than the youngest women after starting a 20-week cycling program. Some of the benefits you can gain by participating in an exercise program include:
1) Improved circulation by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels;
2) Reduced risk of cancer;
3) Protection against infections;
4) Increased alertness due to the release of adrenaline; and
5) Improved sleep. Dr. Bortz believes that "although being lean doesn't guarantee longevity, obesity certainly prohibits it."
To be successful, an exercise program should have an element of recreation and renewal in it. Exercising just because it is good for you isn't enough for most people. It should be fun, too. If the exercise is perceived as work, chances are you won't sustain it.
Dr. Bortz encourages people of all ages to be more than body fit, be whole person fit -- body, mind, spirit all in harmony, balance, vitality. This is the ideal. It takes guts and smarts. It takes involvement. The key is to do it, just do it. At 75, he practices what he preaches. Over the past 35 years he has run a marathon each year. Most recently he and his wife completed the Boston Marathon.
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