Scientists can clone goats, but we are still searching for the fountain of youth. Journalist Bill Gifford tackles why we age and what to do about it in his new book, “Spring Chicken.” But for him, the focus should be on healthspan (the number of healthy years), not lifespan. “We need to think about how to keep people healthy for longer. You want to enjoy life, not just be alive,” he says. Here, he shares ways to do exactly that.
1. Take the stairs
“One thing I noticed when I was following these scientists around [while researching and interviewing them for the book] was that they never took the elevator,” Gifford says. And for good reason. This shouldn’t come as a shocker, but an active lifestyle is linked to a longer lifespan. Gifford says it’s not necessarily exercising that’s important, but building more activity into your daily life.
“As Americans, we have to find the closest parking spot when we’re going out to eat. But what if you parked three blocks away or at the far end of the parking lot? Then you built in a nice little walk for before and after dinner,” he says. Small lifestyle changes like this have a big impact. So, if you live on the fifth floor of a walkup, be thankful.
2. Load up on vitamin D
While writing his book, Gifford heavily researched which supplements and vitamins were actually worth taking — and which ones weren’t. If you’re loading up on antioxidants thinking they will reverse the aging process: stop. “The idea of taking antioxidants is based on a theory some guy came up with years ago that nobody but him was able to prove,” Gifford says.
Instead, load up on vitamin D, which has been found to slow down aging in worms. (Hey, it’s a start.) One study Gifford cites in his book found that 70 percent of white Americans and 97 percent of black Americans aren’t getting enough vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones and overall physical health. A lack of vitamin D has also been linked to developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. So, drink of your milk pop a vitamin.