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Surprising Science

Exercise: The Real Fountain of Youth

Is it true that sex prolongs life? How do you sustain memory and creativity as you age? What is the real fountain of youth?As more and more Baby Boomers become elderly, there is an increased focus in our society on preserving a better quality of life into old age—and “dying well” when the time comes to go. Patricia Bloom, director of integrative health at the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, sat down with Big Think recently to talk about aging as it relates to lots of things: sex, creativity, exercise, longevity.

Bloom says that exercise is what facilitates healthy aging and a later life without disease. “The good news is that you don’t have to be a marathon runner. People get discouraged, they’re like, well I’ve been a couch potato all my life, but if you even go from the lowest quartile of physical activity to the second to the lowest quartile, you really improve your health status.”

Will the fact that Baby Boomers are being forced to postpone retirement affect the population’s ultimate health? Bloom thinks it might help the situation: “The silver lining there is, if you have to keep working longer at something that is meaningful to you, that I think is actually good for your health.”

Another topic that Bloom touches on is dying– or the healthy pursuit of the final stage of life. Is there a way to “die well?” Bloom thinks we have a long way to go in terms of relieving pain and suffering in the final phase of life. “We really need to improve on people’s knowledge about and ability to relieve pain and that would change the face of dying as well. There’s great interest in assisted suicide, but it would probably be true that for a lot of patients who were interested in assisted suicide, maybe the point of that decision would change if they had better treatment. If they were more comfortable with the process that they were going through.”


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