Do people truly lose their zest for life as they age, unable to engage in activities they once enjoyed? What causes some individuals to age more gracefully, while others appear older than their actual age? Why do two 83-year-olds experience ageing so differently – one remaining active and capable of running a marathon, while the other becomes frail and resides in a nursing home?
For insights into these inquiries and to understand the factors that impact the ageing process, as well as methods to make the effects of growing older less noticeable, explore the book ‘Age Proof’ authored by the esteemed physician and researcher, Rose Anne Kenny.
Professor Rose Anne Kenny is a distinguished physician and researcher, holding the position of Head of the academic department of Medical Gerontology at Trinity College, Dublin since 2006.
She is widely recognised as a founding the Principal Investigator of The Irish LongituDinal study on Ageing (TILDA). With an impressive track record, Prof Kenny has authored over 600 scientific publications to date and was honoured with admission as a Member of the Royal Irish Academy (M.R.I.A) in 2014, the highest recognition for scientific excellence in Ireland. Her exceptional contributions to the field of ageing research were acknowledged with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Additionally, she has received several other accolades, including being voted a Health Hero by the Irish Times in 2018, winning the Trinity Innovation Award in 2017, and being elected President of the Irish Geriatrics Society in 2020.
What is the book about?
In ‘Age Proof, ’Professor Rose Anne Kenny presents the findings of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA). This is an ongoing 12-year research project that has diligently followed nearly 9,000 adults aged fifty and older, resulting in over 400 research papers. The study comprehensively examines various aspects of life, encompassing physical and brain health, genetics, childhood experiences, friendships, finances, and more, all with the aim of comprehending the processes and factors influencing the ageing process.
In the book, Kenny highlights scientific evidence indicating that approximately 80% of our ageing biology is under our control, offering a positive outlook that not only can we extend our lifespan but also enhance our overall happiness and well-being as we grow older.
Throughout the book, readers are introduced to inspiring vignettes about individuals whom Professor Kenny has worked with, like the retired dentist who transformed his sedentary lifestyle by embracing bodybuilding in his late 80s, continuing strong in his mid-90s. These stories, combined with scientific studies, serve to motivate and engage readers on their ageing journey.
‘Age Proof’ concludes with a valuable 27-page chapter/workbook titled “Test Yourself,” featuring questionnaires corresponding to the discussions in each chapter. These questionnaires can be periodically revisited to monitor personal progress toward individual goals.
Table of contents
- Chapter 1 You Are as Young as You Feel – Age is Not a Number
- Chapter 2 Why Do We Age?
- Chapter 3 Friendship
- Chapter 4 Never a Dull Moment – Laughter and Purpose
- Chapter 5 A Good Night’s Sleep
- Chapter 6 Downtime and the Pace of Ageing
- Chapter 7 In Search of the Elixir of Youth
- Chapter 8 Cold Water and Hormesis
- Chapter 9 Eat to Your Heart’s Content
- Chapter 10 Sex and Intimacy
- Chapter 11 Loving Our Muscles for Life Appendices – Test Yourself
- Quality of Life (CASP-12)
- The Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ-A)
- Perceptions of Ageing
- Purpose in Life Subscale of the Ryff
- Psychological Well-being Scale
- UCLA Loneliness Scale
- Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression
- Short Form Scale
- One Leg Stand
Key takeaways from ‘Age Proof’
1Laughter has healing properties
Laughter is not only a form of joy and amusement but also a powerful physical and chemical process that benefits our well-being. Laughter also serves as a natural workout, engaging various muscles, including the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, leaving us more relaxed afterwards.
At a chemical level, laughter has remarkable effects. It lowers stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, stabilising blood sugars, regulating blood pressure, and reducing inflammation. By increasing endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine – the ‘feel-good’ chemicals – it enhances sensations of pleasure, motivation, memory, and reward. Moreover, laughter’s impact on the nervous and cardiac systems can even contribute to a 42% reduced risk of recurrent heart attacks.
2Physical exercise is an all-rounder for healthy ageing
Besides giving an in-depth explanation of the importance of physical activity for healthy ageing, the author also provides anti-ageing fitness recommendations. Some of the suggestions include:
Just 150 minutes of walking each week can offer protection against depression. Engaging in more intense exercises like cycling or swimming can yield even more significant benefits.
To improve blood flow to the brain, it is advisable to stand up every 45 minutes if you have been sitting for extended periods.
Resistance exercises are effective in countering the effects of ageing on nerves that support skeletal muscles. Studies show that even individuals over 90 can experience strength benefits from such exercises.
Running triggers the release of a brain-enhancing protein that promotes the growth and acceleration of new nerves.
3Cold water immersion is beneficial for overall health and ageing
Regular exposure to cold water has been shown to improve immune responses, leading to fewer winter colds, chest infections, and overall illnesses. Combining cold showers with physical activity yields an impressive 54% reduction in sick leave and increased energy levels akin to a coffee boost.
Moreover, cold water immersion can have positive effects on mental health, helping with symptoms of depression in both young and old individuals.
For most individuals, brief whole-body exposure to cold water is safe and lacks significant side effects, benefiting the skin as well. Cold water showers can alleviate age-related pruritus or itchy skin, providing relief from dryness and avoiding exacerbation of skin conditions compared to hot showers.
Overall rating & strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews
Written in a clear and accessible way.
Provides practical advice and tests allowing readers to assess their quality of life and ageing perception.
The content is interesting but not particularly enlightening or surprising, lacking groundbreaking insights.
The book relies heavily on brief citing and overviews of studies, which may not be as engaging for some readers.
Best quotes from ‘Age Proof’
“…a number of species - for example, mice, worms, fish and monkeys. In rhesus monkeys, after 20 years of reduced calorie intake, eating less than half of the monkeys' normal intake, the fasting monkeys are much younger looking, with more hair, no sunken eyes, fuller cheeks, more youthful posture and more energy than monkeys of the same chronological age who have eaten a normal diet for 20 years. Remarkably, the fasting monkeys also live 30 per cent longer.”
“Supporting these explanations, Harvard researchers, in a more recent large study of human social networks, found that greater friendship and familial ties independently predicted lower concentrations of fibrinogen, which is a clotting factor in blood and a cause of blood clots and heart attacks, and indicates inflammation. The strength of the association between fibrinogen and social isolation was remarkable. The effect was the same as for smoking, a well-recognised major risk factor for blood clots and heart attacks.”
“Our TILDA research has shown that getting less than seven and more than nine hours of sleep after the age of 50 are both linked to future problems with mental abilities, such as memory, concentration and learning.”
‘Age Proof’ presents an informative and well-researched account of the ageing process, offering valuable insights into the factors that impact ageing and methods to age healthily. The book emphasises the significance of a positive mindset in slowing down physical and cognitive ageing and highlights the controllable aspects of our ageing biology, offering hope for a healthier and longer life.
‘Age Proof’ will appeal to people interested in exploring the science behind ageing and incorporating evidence-based strategies into their daily routines.
Where to buy
You may purchase ‘Age Proof’ on Amazon at the best price. It is available in paperback, hardcover, audio and Kindle versions, so you may choose an option that appeals to you the most.
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