I’m Older Than I’ve Ever Been: Thoughts on Turning Sixty-Nine

The skeptical cardiologist may reach the ripe old age of sixty-nine years shortly. It’s not a number I’m particularly comfortable with but one in my opinion that is vastly superior to seventy. And, as many of my patients like to say better than the alternative.

And on that birthday I will likely queue up the delightfully quirky and insightful TMBG song “Older” which I described in detail when I wrote of how we might all become “younger next year.” three years ago. Perhaps, after implementing that plan I can now say that I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

Speaking of which, feast your eyes on Dylan, Roger Mcguinn, Clapton, HarrisonNeil Young and Tom Petty performing Dylan’s “My Back Pages” in this mesmerizing video from 1992’s celebration of Bob Dylan’s amazing 30-year career.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/rEoZfu-XNZc?rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=0

Push-Ups For Preventing Heart Disease

In anticipation of this ghastly birthday milestone, I have been ramping up my push-up numbers (PUN). Long-time readers may remember when I posted the tongue-in-cheek question “Are you doing enough push-ups to save your life?” after encountering news reports that the ability to do 40 push-ups was “the magic number” for preventing heart disease.

Although that study was fairly meaningless, I’ve always liked push-ups and highly recommend them. They require no special equipment or preparation. It’s a quick exercise that builds upper-body muscle strength, adds to core strength, and gets the heart rate up a bit.

Doing them won’t save your life or prevent heart disease but it will contribute to mitigating the weakness and frailty of aging.

The Cooper database shows that if you are a male over 60 years of age and can do 39 push-ups you are in the 99th percentile. Back then I could do 50 push-ups. 

In the last 2 years, I developed a frozen shoulder which limited a lot of my normal upper-body exercises including push-ups. After getting a second opinion (which I highly recommend for this condition in particular and for any major surgery in general) and the correct diagnosis on my shoulder, followed by a combination of steroid injection and stretching,the shoulder improved to the point where I could resume most of my normal exercises.

In the three months since then, I’ve been gradually increasing my PUN with the goal of reaching a PUN equal to my age. I reached that a few weeks ago and hit 74 last week.

Younger Next year

In the last decade, many researchers and authors have declared that we can forestall the inevitable tide of aging. Books, podcasts, and websites abound on the topic and dominate the bestseller and high-popularity lists.

Previously I wrote about “Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond – turn back your biological clock” which suggests that we could achieve the goal of “being younger than that now.”

I agreed with the 7 simple rules in the book. In particular, the immense value of regular aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercise in prolonging one’s healthspan cannot be overemphasized.

My own exercise regimen incorporates elements of yoga along with core, resistance, stretching, and cardio features I have discovered over the years and find useful. I’m putting together a post on the five simple things that I find essential to forestall physical aging and hope to post it soon.

Having enrolled in Medicare recently I discovered that my AARP Medigap program pays for a program similar to Silver Sneakers (Renew Active) that pays for my membership at the Magdalene Ecke YMCA across the street. There, I hope to become an expert pickle baller, ride on a peloton, run on treadmills, ellipiticize on ellipticals, and research what is going on with EGYM.

Apparently, “the EGYM journey includes a comprehensive personal assessment that determines your BioAge, a progressive training plan and unlimited use of the EGYM circuit.” I am intrigued! Perhaps I can make my BioAge get younger next year.

The Four C’s

The last three of Harry’s rules (care, connect, and commit) I am continually working on but I feel unqualified to pontificate on them.

As to eating crap, a fair amount of my writing and researching time goes into trying to determine with certainty what the crap is that we are supposed to not be eating. Believe it or not, there has been a lot of controvery on this topic.

I’m pretty, sure, however, that most authorities in nutrition would be horrified to see me eating the bowl of Ben and Jerry’s Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream that I will be eating the heck out of the night my chronological age turns sixty-nine. Is there any better ice cream in the world?

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

A fellow Welshman and another Dylan said:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I’ve decided that my version of raging against the dying of the light is to do everything I can to slow down the ravages of age even as I become older than I’ve ever been.

Antisenescently Yours,

-ACP

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10 thoughts on “I’m Older Than I’ve Ever Been: Thoughts on Turning Sixty-Nine”

  1. Happy Birthday! I was wondering about your thoughts on strength training for patients with CAD. Obviously it depends on the patient, but is there a consensus in the world of cardiology on risks vs rewards? Before I received my CAC of 107 at age 45 back in 2021 I was doing weight routines that were just as intense as anything I did in my twenties. I’ve been a lifelong gym rat and I took some real pride in the fact that, for the most part, in everything from deadlifts to squats, I was more-or-les matching what I could do at 25. The CAC score left me scared to death that intense weightlifting could lead to a ruptured plaque and drop me dead. I do light-to-moderate weight lifting now. I never go to failure, never do heavy weights/low reps, never do more demanding exercises like deadlifts or back squats, and always try to stay at an intensity where I can talk normally (if I have to) throughout an exercise. I miss the challenge and intensity of my old routines, and my cardiologist even said, “If they didn’t kill you yet you probably could keep doing them” but it just freaks me out too much. Push-ups used to be a major part of my routines but I read that they’re actually dangerous if you have CAD, so I stick to dumbbell chest presses. My cardio routine used to largely consist of HIIT training, usually involving sprint intervals…now I go for 40-45 minute walks 5-7 days a week. I miss running, but I’m just too scared to try it, and from what I understand, you basically get the same benefits from a vigorous walk.

    Reply
  2. Happy Birthday! Wishing you many more! I’m 61, and take a statin for primary prevention. Otherwise, I’m in good health and try to maintain my fitness level – have been following your blog for last year or two, and it’s been very helpful. I too am a big believer in the power of push ups to maintain muscle mass. I have one question about the PUN you reference in this post. Is the PUN referring to push ups in one minute (as Cooper database does), or is there another metric (push ups without interruption? Push ups in one day? Push ups in one workout? I.e. would 3 sets of 25 count as a PUN of 75?). Thanks very much

    DaveC

    Reply
    • Dave
      Thanks!The study I reference in firefighters was number completed in one minute. I do mine in one session and I think I’m doing them at less than one per second. Haven’t strictly time it but I feel doing them slower actually makes it harder.
      Haven’t seen any data on combining pushup session.
      Dr P

      Reply
  3. Corley and Dr. P, I’m a year ahead of you, turning the big 7-0 in October. It makes me dizzy to think it, and I mean I really do get dizzy when I think about it!!! That said, I still work, travel, and stay active with my aerobic activity (no longer running but walking with some spurts of running). Keeping up the weight work is the hardest part for me. I used to be quite aggressive with it. Now the aches and pains get in the way so I do what I can. Wishing you both a great 69th year and see you on the other side (age-wise that is)!

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  4. I will also reach “that” age this year; however, I don’t think it will be as hard as the “unmentionable” one next year. But, I am blessed to have reached this age, as I am older than my father, mother and two brothers were when they passed away.

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  5. Congratulations on your birthday. was once 69. I’m now 81. I have “controlled” chronic A-Fib and a LBBB. I lost some core strength when i had both eyes operated on for near blindness and now I can zip thru the 2nd from bottom on eye chart, and can almost get the bottom line. The recovery took all summer, and I was limited in avoiding strenuous activity, and encouraged to WALK myself into the 4th Dimension. I enjoy a strong immune system proven in blood tests and the bone density of a 40 yr old. (I have NEVER had a broken bone)…(little toes against furniture don’t count) I will just continue my upward climb as I age (turn 82 in May) and glad that you have met your limits, and fight to exceed them.

    Reply
    • Towncar,
      It is amazing and discouraaging how quickly important things like core strength, aerobic fitness, flexibility fade when an illness steps in. Equally discouraging how long it takes to get it back. And both worsen as we age.
      I’m still puzzling over what you mean by “WALK myself into the 4th Dimension” but I’m intrigued.
      dr P

      Reply

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