My dad, Steve Rand, is about to turn 70 next month but you would never guess it. On a recent visit to NH I had an interesting encounter with a family friend. She asked “What has your dad been doing in the last 6-9 months? He looks and acts 10 years younger. I want to know what tricks he has up his sleeve.”
What changes has he made lately?
We started off the summer with a so-called “cross-country cleanse” when he joined me and my 3 yr old on a drive from Arizona to Chicago. This involved a drastic cutback on his coffee intake, no gluten, and a lot of ginger green juice. He ended the summer following the official Ginger Newtrition 15 day elimination plan, finding exactly what foods do and do not work for him.
Is it his diet that makes him so healthy? Nope.
As much as I would love to take credit, the truth of the matter is that the lemon water, coconut oil and green smoothies are really only a small piece of the puzzle. Here are the real reasons that my dad is such a healthy guy at 70 years old.
1) Exercise. When my dad turned 67 he ran his first 10K and now runs consistently 3-4 times a week. When he is not running, he is golfing, hiking or swimming. Finding movement that you love helps maintain a healthy weight, regulate your sleep and gives you some extra endorphins to boost your mood.
2) The Power Nap. Want to have enough energy to take on a new project mid afternoon? 20 minutes is all it takes. The trick is to sit upright in a chair so that you aren’t too comfortable, otherwise you might enter deep sleep and end up feeling groggy.
3) Community & Volunteering. Recent research shows a strong correlation between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. My dad is so involved in the local community that some people like to call him the Mayor of Plymouth. He is always working on a new project in town, from the local Rotary, Historical Society, Christmas Parade to raising money for the Youth Center. I believe, that the strong connection he has to his town and many organizations is the biggest secret to his health.
4) Master of the Tuck and Roll. Being able to fall and not hurt yourself is an important strategy in my dad’s long term health.
5) Laughs a lot. Like father, like daughter. Laughter is fun and infectious but also has deep health benefits such as relieving stress, boosting the immune system and increasing blood flow to help protect the heart.
6) Tries New Things. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Not true here. At 67 my dad started running races and now at 70 he is taking up sculling. How many almost 70 year old men do you know are willing to try their daughter’s hippy new-age detox? Being flexible and adventurous in life keeps the brain active and you feeling and looking young.
7) Eats the whole plant. My dad takes eating the whole plant to the next level. When eating an apple finishes the entire thing off, core and all! (note: I am not suggesting anyone start eating the whole apple!)
8) Social Connection. I am not talking about Facebook. My dad has strong ties with many groups of very different types. Every other Monday you can find him hosting a men’s group at his house, discussing philosophy or religion, and on Sunday he is out bonding with his golfing buddies. Social capital is an important predictor in health and longevity, especially as we enter the senior age. Stay connected, in person.
9) Laid Back Attitude. He is a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. Oops, we are driving the wrong way down a one-way street? He won’t let that mess with his mood or cortisol output. Since I routinely check my client’s cortisol levels, I can attest that being uptight and stressed out daily will lead to hormone imbalance and most likely chronic diseases.
10) Family & Love. My dad has a lot of love for his family and his family has a lot of love for him. Having a partner that motivates him to stay healthy, try new things and just be the best that he can be keeps him young and happy daily.
Bonus secret weapon? He had a ginger mother AND has a ginger for a daughter. Being surrounded with that much red-headed love has to be good for you!!
What do you think is the biggest predictor of living a long and healthy life? We would love to hear your ideas!