What is the secret to living a longer, healthier, happier life? A recent article in the AARP Bulletin reviews the answers to this question as provided by Robert Butler, M.D., one of the country's foremost experts on aging. The 83 year-old Butler is the founding director of the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health. He is a gerontologist, psychiatrist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. His advice is founded on sound scientific research and a keen understanding of longevity. Dr. Butler asserts that research clearly shows that a healthy lifestyle can make a big difference in helping people live longer and push back or avoid the onset of chronic illness, lack of mobility, and cognitive decline. Dr. Butler's latest book, The Longevity Prescription: The 8 Keys to a Long, Healthy Life, serves as a guide to healthy aging designed to assist readers with living longer and better lives. For example, in his book, Dr. Butler prescribes "cognitive calisthenics" to maintain a healthy brain, preserve mental sharpness, and stave-off dementia. He recommends engaging in activities that challenge one's brain for at least twenty minutes each day, five days a week, gradually increasing the level of challenge over time. He suggests activities such as learning a word a day, reading a book, learning to play an instrument, learning a new language, or pursuing a passion. He also advises increasing human interactions by volunteering, entertaining, or even playing games.
Maintaining a healthy brain is just one key to living a longer, happier life. Butler stresses that the other seven keys - nurturing relationships, getting regular sleep, reducing stress, varying social connections, exercising more, eating healthier, and receiving preventative medical care - are just as vital. These suggestions seem like common sense to many, but it's putting them into practice that can be difficult. Dr. Butler's book uses easy-to-follow, step-by-step strategies and checklists to assist readers with getting on the path to a healthier lifestyle.
In his interview with the AARP Bulletin, Dr. Butler also offers the following interesting facts on health and longevity:
Old age is now perceived as a "time of continuing vitality." About 44% of Americans over the age of 65 years describe the present as "the best years of my life."
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