Age-defying fitness

The quest to reverse age strengthens, but what best results can we achieve ‘au naturel’?

Age-defying fitness

Age is a number…said all those who are on the right side of ageing. Every turn around the Sun increases the fight against it. And every year as I near yet another birthday, I feel like writing about it. Jocularity aside, there are fewer Mother Nature dictated phenomena as depressingly fascinating as human ageing. And to reverse the inexorable march of time, industries jostle in a sector worth billions of dollars.

Reports suggest that the global anti-ageing industry pegged at USD 62 billion in 2021 is likely to touch 93 billion by 2027. The anti-ageing and age reversal industry has never been more active. With new technologies, skin care regimes, cosmetic and plastic surgery treatment options, and newer, pathbreaking alternatives flooding the market — we are encouraged to not age (just) gracefully.

The most talked about explorer in the anti-ageing realm has to be American tech entrepreneur Bryan Johnson. I call him an explorer because he's pushing health boundaries seeking newer territories. His quest for longevity sets him back a minimum of USD 2 million every year. His routines, nutrition, and dietary supplements are purportedly the ideal mix allowing him to reduce his biological age and enabling eventual mortality of 120 years. Johnson takes over 100 pills every day, tracks his nocturnal erections and takes shockwave therapy to get erections befitting 18 year-olds, his intermittent fasting and daily vegan meals pack in 2,250 calories, an hour of workout 7 days a week, and a long bedtime routine followed by sleeping every night alone at the same time — are all part of his lifestyle. Johnson's experiments have allured folks so much that just a few days ago, he announced that he would have a limited sale of his ‘Blueprint stack’ for USD 343 a month.

Johnson is obsessed and his level of commitment is unique, arduous, and frankly, a millionaire’s luxury. But what should commoners who care do? Do you choose to accept ageing through a zen-like prism of elevated consciousness? Do you spend increasing hours at the gym pumping iron craving a young person’s body only to drop dead because your heart wasn't ready to support the rigour? Does the doctor’s knife or cosmetologist’s injection become your favourite friend filling up a crease, tightening up a wrinkle?

Your youth would have made you promise to age like a fine wine while caressing your sagging skin — “It’s not age honey, it's experience,” you imagine telling youngins, your salt and pepper hair perfectly framing your face. But when that day comes calling and you look in the mirror, not recognising the stranger who stares back, all older beliefs made in the naivete of youth, will evaporate. Almost overnight, the body changes. It's incredulous how the body clock works almost perfectly (mostly for women of course!) — switching off the hormones that once were aplenty, like a tap that's been closed shut with only a slow drip allowed to escape. The miraculous emergence of lines and wrinkles, the sudden receding hairline, the unwelcome guests of graying hair…change we will, beyond recognition of our years of youth.

I think our preoccupation should not be skin deep. After a certain age, rock hard abs or alabaster skin would have to be medically engineered. To stay ‘au naturel’, one must first know one’s ‘fitness age’, and improving it will be the chalice of life. There are many online calculators that can help determine your fitness age. The goal, much like Johnson’s but with a more plebian approach, should be to have a fitness age that's consistently lower than our biological one (and definitely not more than it). Regular exercise with weight training, yoga or stretches, high intensity interval training (HIIT), and core strengthening are ideal. After observing older folks around me, I can finally appreciate the doctor’s advice to walk everyday. Walking, truly, is a miracle activity that strengthens and prepares the body for old age. When you're old, just keeping your balance is half the struggle (or so I'm told)! Stay active (regular walks), be functionally fit (house chores), eat clean (nutritious home-cooked meals, necessary supplements, adequate water, intermittent fasting), moisturise skin, reduce stress, and sleep restfully at night, will do wonders. The pursuit of health and fitness is perhaps the best midlife crisis to have!

The writer is an author and media entrepreneur. Views expressed are personal

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