I was reading and amazing story in the newspaper this morning about Olga Kotelko (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olga_Kotelko) and (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/what-a-94-year-old-track-star-can-teach-us-about-aging/article16286101/#dashboard/follows/) a 94 year old Canadian who, at 77 years old took up track and field and, now at 94 hold 17 world record for her age group. And there are only 17 track categories for her age group — she holds world records in them all. This includes running, high jump, javelin, and many more sports that would seem impossible for a 94 year old to perform.
So what makes Olga so unique? She has allowed herself to be studied at McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute. Physically, they found that her body – her mitochondria – is not breaking down in the way most people’s bodies break down as they age. But why is this. Some of the scientists studying aging are coming to incredible conclusions — the degree to which we age physically is, at least partially, determined by phycological cues.
What doe this mean, that the physical aging is psychologically determined It means our body ages because our minds tell it to (or not too). A Harvard study found that when men started to go bald, it would send a phycological signal to their body that they were aging and men would begin to exercise less, put on weight and their body would deteriorate.
But that need not be the case. Another study out of Yale University found that of 500 seniors aged 70-96, found that test subjects that did not adhere to conventional aging behaviours delayed physical aging (hearing loss) by 36 months compared with those who “acted old”.
As we age, many of us believe we cannot do the things we used to to when we were young. We become more cautious in sports and less ambitious on activities. This need not be the case. If we continue to act with abandon and ambition, our body will, apparently be there for us. This is what Olga has chosen to do. She has not “allowed” herself to age as her peers have and her body has responded. Genetics obviously play a role but it is really encouraging to say the our state of mind is and equal or perhaps bigger contributor.
Free your mind and your body will follow …. into a young old age.