Wednesday, October 25, 2017


I was at the Manitoba Fitness Council annual conference this weekend.  One of the sessions that peaked my interest was Dr. Len Kravitz’s presentation on “The Secrets of Longevity”.  Len Kravitz, Ph.D.,  is the Program Coordinator of Exercise Science and Research at the University of New Mexico and is well sought out for his sound research and ground breaking presentations.

What is the Magic Pill or Magic Potion for successful Aging?
Ok, this may not be a surprise, but modern science now has proof, that the secret to longevity has to do with Exercise.   What are the factors that increase the chance of aging optimally?

1)      Aerobic Exercise
2)      Resistance Exercise
3)      Adequate Sleep
4)      Lifestyle & Stress Management
5)      Healthy Nutritional choices.

From a separate lecture, Dr. Kravitz explained that the best Aerobic Exercise is Low volume Interval Training.  Aerobic activity should be done for a maximum of 30 minutes per day 2 or 3 times a week.  The Best program involves using HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to increase your VO2max – the amount of oxygen you use.  For example,  do 1 minute at 90-95% of your  maximum heart rate, then reduce to 50-70% of Maximum Heart Rate.  Continue for 8 to 10 bouts. And don’t forget to warm-up before you start.       The point is to work harder – not longer!  From Len’s research he wanted to stress a study made by Franklin Booth in 2012 that “Low cardiorespiratory fitness is a sounder predictor of death than risk factors such as hypertension, smoking and diabetes.  Wow!  If you haven’t started an Aerobic program, now’s the time!

Regarding Resistance Exercise, use of Weights or Body Weight exercises is preferred for at least 2 sessions per week.  Exercise is proven to REVERSE the gene expression  on 179 genes of aging in the muscle, which gives credence that Exercise Reverses the Aging Process!     And, other benefits of Resistance training include;  increase in fat-free mass, increased bone mineral density, increases in muscular strength, lowers incidence of chronic disease, improves psychological well-being and increases resting metabolism.

Lifestyle strategies are nothing new, but for many, are ignored.     You need at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day.  Diet should be high on fruits and vegetables, substituting chicken, fish, nuts, beans for red meat.  Light alcohol intake (1 drink per day) is okay, but no smoking.  You need 6 -8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per day.  It is proven that mind-body programs, relaxation techniques, problem solving (at home and work) and exercise, lead to less stress, depression and less cognitive decline. 

Here is an Affirmation breathing drill to combat stress that was used by Benjamin Franklin;
  Sitting upright, start with a body scan – notice any stress in the body.  Then repeat the mantra “I am in Control”.  Continue for one or two minutes.  I prefer to use  “I am”(while inhaling) “Relaxed”(while exhaling). 

As Dr. Kravitz talked to the crowd of fitness leaders, he made one comment on that goal to Longevity that should be passed on–“Get Fit, and KEEP getting Fitter!”  He also spoke about the longevity hot spots around the world.  The “Blue Zones”.  You may recall my newsletter/blog two years ago about this (see the attached link for reference:

It was interesting what Len Kravitz found out about the characteristics of the “Supercentenarians”.
They had high physical and cognitive function, total cholesterol was under 200 mg/dl, Cardiovascular Disease, Stroke and cancer was rare, Blood Pressure was in the regular range, BMI was under 22, those who smoked quit at 70 years, and live 90-95% life very healthy.  This is all comparable to a healthy 25 year old!  Healthy Centenarians also relied on meaningful Social interaction – that is why my Fitness Classes are still going strong – we have a great group of Dynabods – all heading in the right direction!

One of Dr.Len Kravitz’s  allies and mentor’s  Dr. Kenneth Cooper of the Cooper Institute had quoted “We do not stop exercising because we grow old – we grow old because we stop exercising”.

To finish things off, here is a quote made 2,400 years ago from Hippocrates “That which is used develops, and that which is not used wastes away….If there is any deficiency in food or exercise, the body will fall sick.    Let’s modify that quote to something familiar…