Last year, my mom ran a whole city block in Brooklyn. This may not seem exceptional – until you learn she was 92 years old.
How does she remain so agile and healthy for her age? She’s what people in the medical community refer to as a super-ager: someone in their 70s and 80s who has the mental or physical capability of people far younger. There are both cognitive super-agers and physical super-agers.
What’s happening in the brain of a cognitive super-ager? The parts of the brain responsible for emotion, language, stress, regulating internal organs, and coordinating sensory input into a cohesive experience are thicker in super-agers than they are in normal aging brains. The thicker these regions of the brain, the better a person will perform on tests of memory and attention.
Cognitive super-agers likely achieve their boosted brain power by embracing challenges and problems as things they can succeed at, while non-super-agers will often give up. Researchers speculate that super-agers have a higher than average tolerance for discomfort and are willing to push through the difficulty associated with learning a new skill.
A key indicator that someone is a physical super-ager is their aerobic capacity – the amount of oxygen they can breathe in and distribute to their tissues in one minute. Most people lose 10% of their aerobic capacity every decade after age 30. But people in their 80s who exercise at high intensity for 20-45 minutes every day have an aerobic capacity that closely mimics people 30 years younger.
What Does This Teach Us About Our Biological Age?
When you think of your “biological age,” you may think of online quizzes or scare-tactic articles to get you to book a doctor’s appointment or try a juice cleanse. But the truth is far more optimistic – you have a say in your biological age. While your chronological age is etched in stone, your biological age is based on specific actions and choices that you can begin cultivating today.
Specifically, you can consistently take on new challenges, pushing through the discomfort until you begin to improve, and incorporating at least 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise into your daily routine.
Want to find out more about reducing your biological age and becoming a super-ager? Join us in The Aligned Life.