By next year, Americans are expected to spend nearly 11 billion dollars on skin care annually. By some estimates anyway, the biggest share of this market goes to “anti-aging” products. Anti-aging… As I noted in an offhand way a few years back, there’s a certain enjoyment in looking good naked (or just looking good), and there’s nothing wrong with that. Looking “good” is largely a reflection of optimum inner health—nothing un-Primal about that. Great health is what we’re all here for. The “extra” rewards that come with it aren’t anything to shake a stick at—or to be sheepish about.
But the health ambition isn’t really what’s behind the statistics above. At their best, anti-aging products boost the body’s natural processes (or at least don’t undermine them with toxins). At their worst, these products promise a way to cheat effort as well as time. While taking care of your skin is part of basic hygiene, too often the claims have more in common with a hat trick than genuine wellness. But which is which?
The older you get, the more important strength, agility, power, and lean mass become. This isn’t how most people approach old age. They expect strength and all the other trappings of physical capacity to degenerate, and so they do. It’s what happens all around us, every day. Seniors are feeble, right?
The weight room is scary for a lot of people. Hell, even able-bodied youngsters in the prime of their lives shy away from lifting heavy things. So, first things first: Seniors should definitely strength train. If you’re unsure of your form and capabilities, find a trainer who works with older folks and ensure your safety. Just get out there.
Today’s guest post is written by Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Los Angeles Lakers and owner of TD Athlete’s Edge. Tim is a longtime friend of the Primal community, and I’m thrilled to have him contribute today. He’s offered to lead us through a portion of the screening he uses to evaluate players as well as exercises to improve weaknesses. I think you’ll find a great deal to apply to your Primal fitness in the tips and demonstrations.
Every former competitive athlete’s worst nightmare is that moment when you lose to a younger person doing the sport you love. When the cocoon of invincibility and superiority you’ve erected around yourself comes crashing down and a piece of your self-identity shatters. It can truly feel like the end.
I know the feeling. Several years ago on a family ski trip, my son challenged me to a downhill snowboard race. We’d been doing these races—and I’d been winning them—ever since he was old enough to board. It was tradition that we race, and that I win. It’s just how it played out.
This time was different. I was a newly minted member of the 6-decades club. He was a young man, fully grown, years of sports under his belt. He smoked me. It wasn’t even close. And suddenly I realized that despite being in the best shape of my life relative to my age, that upper limit was trending down.
A big reason most people never stick to a serious exercise routine is that the benefits most people are interested in take a while to appear. Fat loss, muscle gain, boosts to strength, speed, and stamina—these physical manifestations of training adherence can take weeks and even months to show. That’s plenty of time for folks to give up, convinced exercise is just not for them.
I get it. I do. But that’s not a valid excuse for not exercising. You know it’s important, you know what the benefits are, and I’m not going to sugarcoat things: training is not optional.
Everything in the world is conspiring to make you fall over. The ground can be slippery, slick, and studded with protrusions. The earth can move under your feet. The discarded banana peel is an ever present threat. Gravity itself exerts a constant downward pull, and any tissue straying from perpendicularity with the ground feels the pull that much more. That we manage to stay upright at all is impressive.
Not all of us do.
For youngsters, balance is something you actively practice in certain situations: it’s what you do when walking along the top of the monkey bars or ride a surfboard/skateboard/snowboard. You only think about balance when you decide to test it. Good balance enhances your ability to move through and interact with the world. It’s essential for all of us—and especially for athletes whose feats put them at regular odds with the forces that threaten to throw us off balance.
Most health and fitness writers don’t spend a lot of time on cartilage. As tissues go, it’s fairly isolated. It doesn’t contain blood vessels, so we can’t deliver blood-borne nutrients to heal and grow it. Cartilage has no nerve cells, so we can’t “feel” what’s going on. Doctors usually consider it to be functionally inert, a sort of passive lubricant for our joints. If it breaks down, you’re out of luck, they say.
But that’s what people used to think about bone, body fat, and other “structural” tissues: that they are inert rather than metabolically active. The truth is that bone is incredibly plastic, responding to activity and nutrition, and that body fat is an endocrine organ in its own right, secreting hormones and shaping the way our metabolism works. What about cartilage? Can we do anything to improve its strength and function?
For hundreds of years, the localizationism theory of the brain reigned: the idea that the adult brain is composed of distinct regions, each responsible for a separate function. Most people still hew to this, assuming that vision goes here, memories there (with separate sections for short and long term memories), smell here, verbal fluency over here and quantitative processing over there. We assume the number of neurons is fixed and their wiring soldered.
But the emerging science of neuroplasticity shows how wrong this is: rather than fixed and immutable, the neural connections between different “regions” of the brain can reorganize themselves. This is why someone with brain damage to one part of the brain can often recover—neuroplasticity allows a healthy section to assume the role of the damaged section. It’s also how we learn, form memories, and develop new skills.
For today’s Dear Mark, I’m answering a question about the optimal diet for longevity. An article sent in by a reader claims that a recent mouse study has identified the perfect diet for everyone, but especially for older people: a high-carb, low-protein one. They even manage to throw in some stuff maligning the paleo diet (they just can’t resist).
Find out below if the claim holds water. Let’s go:
Coffee is serious business. We Americans drink about 400 million cups of it per day and spend several billion dollars on it each year. It’s the most popular drug on earth, and certainly the most socially acceptable. In many ways, coffee’s the closest thing we’ve got to a universal, daily ritual, as just about every morning, billions of people across the planet prostrate themselves before the holy, energy-giving legume. It also hails from the same place the earliest members of our species do: East Africa (Ethiopia, to be exact). That the most industrious animal ever to walk the planet and the psychoactive legume that fuels said industry both hail from the same place on earth is pure poetry.
Coffee’s also delicious. I’d say you’d have to pry my coffee from my cold, dead fingers, only the ensuing struggle would slosh it all onto the floor, and that would be such a waste.