Not OT....Peter Attia and aging again

So I think I read a mention of improving health as well as lifespan in the last day or so. Since, I’m working back up to something close to my former, pre-lapiplasty exercise volume, I checked on my Peter Attia podcasts to see the backlog. Some of minimal interest but this pretty much hits the spot on exercise and healthspan. His take on the “Centenarian Decathlon”…

As usual, I can see it in full and apologize if the main body is behind his subscription paywall…

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I can’t tell whether any cutoff kicks in before the in depth analysis of the importance of VO2MAX as a longevity biomarker. In case it does, I’ll just throw this link in here as these types of analyses are what’s undrr discussion…


Another convenient “No matter what you’ve been doing you’ve been doing it wrong, but don’t worry I know The Way” medical article.

VO2MAX has been shown (ditch the contrary studies) to be about as effective a marker as BMI. When I was in the Air Force they were so big on aerobics we did nothing else for annual “fitness” testing. No pushups et al.
It was well known that there were fat smokers who scored in the top or 2nd category of fitness and highly athletic gym rats who barely passed. Not a 1-off. Not anecdotal. Well known. Seen every year. Real people. Like all the apparently healthy weight lifters who got put on the “weight program” for being “fat.” Scientists see what they want to see and even worse, they say what they want to say. And before I nail myself to any “data” let’s admit there’s “data” out there to corroborate every position.

Walk a little. Do 20-30 pushups most days. Take the stairs. After that it’s pretty close to the point of diminishing returns for health.


I’d like to believe you…better yet, with 5-10 push ups a day…but it’s not what I/we want to believe that is necessarily in our individual best interests

This can’t be correct (and isn’t correct). There are two things you need to do for exercise to help your body:

  1. Get the blood flowing and the air moving. That means walking (or swimming or elliptical or whatever you like) fast enough for long enough. 30 minutes a session, 5 days a week is usually sufficient. After that is diminishing returns.
  2. Resistance exercise. You need to get your muscles contracting and relaxing a few times to keep them strong enough to maintain your strength and to protect your bones. This can be lifting weights, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, whatever forms you like that will target the major muscle groups in your body. But don’t overdo it because you will surely get injured as you age, and once injured, you are only able to do a lot less, so it isn’t worth it.

One of the interesting bits to Attia’s article is something that I was aware of but didn’t think about very much. The big reason why VO2MAX and some of the various strength tests appear to be so predictive of longevity is that they’re tests that can’t be “crammed” for. The physiological biomarkers they measure…in addition to measuring actual levels of performance, are generally Indirect measurements of the work that those who score in the higher percentiles have done over the preceding years or decades. You can’t usually take, say, a seriously out of shape 50 or 60 year old, put them on a well designed training programme and shift them from lowest to the higher percentiles in a couple of months…and, trying to hard to achieve that over the short term is likely to cause overuse injury.

I do two yoga classes and two core classes most weeks. I stretch for 30 minutes a few times per week. I walk a good bit. That puts me in the 20% of people who exercise.

The yoga and core raise my Vo2Max.

I want to take up jogging but I need to stretch more and stop using my hip flexors so much. I am doing better at building my core.

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Sure, but the presence of “bad” data doesn’t mean there isn’t good data. There is pretty good data that as one ages past 60 one tends to lose muscle mass, bone density, and coordination. That’s why falling is the primary cause of injuries and death by injury in seniors.

Therefore it makes sense that physical activity that maintains those physical traits/abilities will significantly improve quality of life during retirement.

That’s pretty good. Would also suggest working on your core (follow the pushups with planks).


Would also suggest dancing!

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Indeed. Left to its own devices, though, the human body loses muscle mass, bone density, and coordination long before age 60 (hence the adage “You grow up until your 20s…and then you grow old”. To the extent that waiting till age 60 to start taking notice of aspects of healthy aging is a bit like waiting until 60 to start financial planning for retirement after living from paycheck to paycheck.

It’s going to take a lot more work…smarter and harder…for most folk to achieve a healthy retirement than with an earlier start on “future proofing”


I met a guy who 26 years ago was a middle manager in sales for a local ball-bearing company. The Chinese counterpart asked him to take over their North American distribution of ball bearings. He became a multimillionaire after age 60. The American local company had only been paying him $60k per year. It had nothing to do with bad planning or suddenly working more. He had been doing the job globally for decades.

@Leap1 …well, I did say most.

Stories of random individuals having just the right circumstances come together to become a millionaire after 60 probably aren’t relevant to most folks’ retirement planning. Probably followed a number of years of skill acquisition and smart enough decision making to be able to take advantage of the opportunity. Lucky him

I bet there are those with similar documented success stories after a lifetime of craptaculous eating, drinking and smoking…but I’ll also bet they’re few and far between.


The irony is most folks were locked out. Supply-side economics meant we produced less as a country. Most people took a relative pay cut.

He went with a country that used to have demand economics.

Now we have demand-side economics and the boomers do not know their elbows from their behinds. Nothing has changed.