Developing an Age Reduction Plan

Dr.  Michael  F.  Roizen

.......Begin by adopting just two or three strategies. Trying to do too much at once can be overwhelming. A common problem with all health initiatives— whether diets or exercise regimens—is that we take on too much at once. Then, after a few days of playing superhero, we give up on everything, never to return to the initial plan. The patients of mine who have been the most successful at age reduction have begun by choosing only two or three strategies. They followed those strategies for three months, and after they successfully incorporated them into their daily routines, they added two or three more, and so on. They frequently go back and recalculate their RealAge and modify and update their Age Reduction Plans. One patient calls me every Monday morning. 'Mike,' she says, 'I've done such and such. What's my RealAge now?'

By adopting the steps from the Quick Fix category first, you can begin reducing your RealAge in just a few days or months with little effort. Reducing your RealAge further requires more resolve. Most of the choices are not that difficult; you just need practice. What better payoff than adding high-quality years to your life?

Losing weight, adopting a three-tiered physical activity program, quitting smoking, managing stress, managing a chronic disease, and controlling blood pressure are the decisions that require the most commitment. But the payoff is huge. The RealAge difference between two people who have the same chronologic age but different blood pressure readings  can be as much as twenty-five years. Likewise, a person who has developed strategies for stress management— including a strong support network of friends and family—can have, in times of crisis, a RealAge as much as thirty years younger than a person of the same age facing a similar crisis who does not have a support network. Remember to prioritize your plan. Which steps are easy? Which steps are difficult but important? Which are less important? Deciding that you will floss your teeth every night requires only that you buy dental floss and use it. Other decisions involve more work.

Decide what kind of a load you can handle. If you have two Age Reduction goals that are in the 'most difficult' category, you probably won't want to adopt both at the same time. Pick one Age Reduction strategy and follow it, and once you have the hang of it, pick another. Don't, for example, try to quit smoking and lose weight at the same time. Choose one, and once you have succeeded with it, adopt the other.

Break a large task into parts. If you are trying to lose weight, first begin by eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and fibers. Then work on cutting back the amount of saturated and trans fats you eat. Don't worry about watching pounds right away; start by developing healthy eating habits. You may be surprised that the pounds come off on their own. Once you have eating under control, start to cut back on calories or begin to integrate exercise into your life. The most important thing about Age Reduction strategies is not that you start them, but that you continue them. Exercise, for example, gives no benefit once you stop. To get the years-younger benefit, you have to stay physically active for the rest of your life.

Put your Age Reduction Plan somewhere where you can easily see it. Tape it to the bathroom mirror. Look at it often and remember what you can do to get younger. Recalculate your RealAge every few months, or whenever you adopt a new Age Reduction strategy. That way you'll know just how young you have become.

Personal Age Reduction Plan


 What behaviors could I adopt to make myself younger?



 The Difference Between RealAge

Maximums and RealAge Interactions:

The Impact on You

As you read this book and review the choices that will help you reduce your RealAge, remember that the RealAge numbers presented in these chapters are the maximum possible effects. They presume only that a single behavior is affecting age reduction and do not take into account the interactions between the effects of several behaviors. Therefore, the numbers are not cumulative. This method has the benefit of allowing you to compare the relative value of health choices, but has the drawback of not accounting for multiple interactions.

Let's consider an example. The chapter on vitamins states that taking vitamins C and E (in food or supplements) can make you six years younger. The impact is astounding. Is it true? Yes. Is it true for you? Not necessarily. Although a person who does nothing else to protect himself or herself from ageing may well have a RealAge benefit of as much as six years simply by taking these two vitamins, most of us make many other health decisions as well. The vitamin choice is mediated by other choices, such as exercising, smoking, and eating a vegetable- and fruit-laden diet.

Indeed, none of us has only one factor affecting his or her rate of ageing. We all have multiple factors. You cannot simply add up all the years of benefits that certain behaviors provide and subtract those from your calendar age. Let's say you floss your teeth regularly (6.4 years younger), have low blood pressure (12 years younger), own a dog (1 year younger), exercise (9 years younger), and have a low weight (8 years younger). You cannot simply total these years and subtract them, to say you are 36.4 years younger than your calendar age. The RealAge concept would be meaningless as you worked your way back into childhood, even into negative years! Rather, the beauty of the RealAge calculation process .... is that it is able to consider the interrelationship between the range of behaviors and determine the impact of these interactions for you.

When you calculate your RealAge, the effect of any one behavior will depend on the other health behaviors and choices you follow. These involve complex equations and complex mathematics, which is why modern computers are required. But these complex calculations are now possible and can inform you of the relative and absolute value of your choices. This is what makes RealAge so revolutionary: It gives us the ability to calculate the effect of complex and multiple behaviors on ageing all at once. It places a value on the effects that different behaviors will have on you, providing the information you need to make informed choices about the way in which you are going to age.

RealAge Means Informed Choices

Read the rest of the book to find out why and how behaviors as diverse as taking vitamin E and enrolling in a continuing education class can help you make your RealAge younger. I will go over the studies and discuss the biologic impact of forty-four health and behavior choices. I will show you which ones help keep you young longer and provide suggestions and strategies for incorporating these changes into your life. I begin with the big three: ageing of the arteries, ageing of the immune system, and environmental ageing, showing how each one contributes to the overall ageing equation. In subsequent chapters, I explain how specific factors, such as taking the right vitamins in the proper doses, diet and weight management, physical activity and exercise, healthy everyday habits, proper medical management, and stress reduction can help you become and stay younger.

By keeping your RealAge young, you help to keep your calendar age from making you feel 'old.' What could be better than making it all the way to ninety with the youth and vigor of someone twenty-five years younger? This book gives you the value system for understanding your health choices, teaching you how to live more high-quality years with as little ageing of your mind or body as possible. I give you the information you need. You make the choices about how you want to grow old. Or stay young.