Edward Schneider (MD, Senior Advisor, Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging) gives expert video advice on: What is considered to be a good lifestyle for healthy aging?; What should I not do if I want to age successfully?; How important is exercise in preventing diseases associated with aging? and more...
What is considered to be a good lifestyle for healthy aging?
A good lifestyle is one that has lots of aerobic exercise, weight training, good nutrition, good sleep and a great attitude towards life.
What should I not do if I want to age successfully?
Become a couch potato, eat lots of fast food, don't get a good night's sleep, and be depressed.
How important is exercise in preventing diseases associated with aging?
There's absolutely nothing better for you to help maximize you aging potential than exercise. More important than nutrition, more important than sleep, more important than even, than perhaps your attitude towards life. Exercise is critical. Even if you smoke, you can help yourself by exercising. Exercise will insure that you have a good night sleep, which is critical. Exercise will help you maintain your weight, exercise will maximize your heart and your lung's abilities to function which is very critical. Exercise will reduce your risk of having osteoporosis and therefore having a fracture. And there are probably half a dozen more things about exercise that are helpful.
Is there such a thing as too much exercise?
Absolutely. I had friends who urged me that the best exercise was running a marathon. Well that's wrong. If you look at marathon runners, they average one injury a year to their feet. So I think there is a limit to exercise. I think a half hour exercise session, which gets your heart rate up to 50% or 60% of its maximum rate is the perfect solution. Walking at 2 or 3 miles per hour will do it. Get a friend to do it with you. If you do this exercise 5 days a week that will be fine.
How much exercise is necessary to promote good health?
I recommend approximately 30 minutes for five days a week. Seven days a week is fine, but if you can only do five, that's enough. A lot of people can't get those 30 minutes in in one day, so you can break it up. You can do 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there, 10 minutes another place. I have a program. It's called the 'I Don't Have Time to Exercise' program, in which case what you do is you park your car away from the mall, away from where you work, away from the place you have your hair cut, and walk to the place. That extra walking time will be counted as exercise. Take the steps instead of the elevator. That's exercise. There are lots of things you can fit into your day as exercise.
What are the best ways to treat the aging of my skin?
What you can do to help keep your skin young are things like alphahydroxy acid treatments. Also, moisturizers are very good because with aging your skin gets drier. Retin-A works for some people, chemical peals work for other people, and of course there's also plastic surgery available for people to help deal with wrinkles and skin aging, because gravity does pull down your skin on your face and does cause wrinkling, and that can be taken care of.
Which vitamins are most important for seniors?
Well, the two I would focus on are vitamin D and vitamin B12. Vitamin D is the most common vitamin deficiency in America. If you live in New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, even Tokyo and London, even if you were out in the sun all day long during the winter time you get no vitamin D made. Remember, vitamin D is made by the effect of sun on your skin and if you live above latitude 40 from December to about March, you make no vitamin D up there. So you need to take supplemental vitamin D. And now we're beginning to know that you need to take as much as a thousand international units per day. So I recommend that for seniors. It's very important for a number of processes. It helps prevent bone problems, it also helps arthritis, and also helps prevent certain cancers. The second one is B12. As we get older, we lose the secretion of stomach acids, called acorhidrea, that's the technical name. What happens then is our stomachs aren't making enough acid and then bacteria starts creeping into the stomach from the small intestines and when you eat food with vitamin B12 they gobble up the B12 and you become B12 deficient. What can you do? What can happen if you B12 deficient? You can develop anemia and even worse you can develop a thing that looks just like Alzheimer's disease. How much do you need? About 1000 micrograms a day of vitamin B12 if your older and have this loss of acid.
How important are multivitamins in preventing diseases associated with aging?
I think multivitamins are false security. People take them because they contain 100 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance. The Recommended Daily Allowance is a minimum amount to prevent rare nutritional deficiencies. So people who take multivitamins are protected against scurvy, Bari Bari, rickets and pellagra. Diseases that they're never going to get, and they don't have enough of the things they do need like vitamin D or vitamin B-12.
Is calcium the most important supplement for seniors to take?
More and more studies have shown that if you want to prevent a fracture, having enough vitamin D is probably more important then having enough calcium. On top of that, vitamin D will help prevent osteoarthritis and help prevent certain cancers.