The title of Dr. Roger Landry’s book is Live Long, Die Short. As a good title should, it grabs our attention. What does it mean to die short?! We’re glad you asked. As a former flight surgeon and current preventative medicine expert, Landry chats with Jason Hartman on episode #32 of The Longevity and Biohacking Show about how to live a high quality life for as long as humanly possible, then spend the least amount of time dying.

Dr. Landry’s Bonafides

(From Dr. Roger Landry is a preventive medicine physician, author of award-winning Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging and President of Masterpiece Living, a group of multi-discipline specialists in aging who partner with communities to assist them in becoming destinations for continued growth. Trained at Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard University School of Public Health, Dr. Landry specializes in building environments that empower older adults to maximize their unique potential.

So Dying Short is a Good Thing, Right?

When used in the sense Dr. Landry does in his book, to die short is definitely a good thing. He phrases it as “the compression of morbidity.” In layman terms, it means that you don’t spend a long time in a slow health decline but rather live a vital life for as long as possible and spend as little time dying as you can.

Think of a cancer that lingers for years. That’s dying long. How about a worn out heart muscle that takes you well into your 90s but finally gives up the ghost and you exit this world with a sudden heart attack. That’s dying short. Sure, it’s still dying but most people would choose the latter.

Living Long – the Big Picture

Living long is a more straightforward idea. Dr. Landry describes it as making a conscious effort to do those things that increase both quality and quantity of vibrant life. He mentions three things to strive for at any age:

* Challenge yourself both physically and mentally (don’t allow yourself to be put out to pasture or marginalized)

* Pay attention to genetic risks and do what you can to reduce them

* Live a social life; stay connected to friends and family 

We’re Still All Hunter/Gatherers

A long time ago, humans made the switch from hunter/gatherer to an agrarian society. As agrarians, we learned to grow our own grains, domesticate animals, and basically didn’t have to run all over the place looking for food any more. While the advent of agriculture meant that fewer people would starve, it wasn’t (isn’t) necessarily the best thing for our health.

Landry says that, since society changes more quickly than our bodies, our physiology is still in hunter/gatherer mode. Which brings him to the conclusion that we should adopt a more hunter/gatherer lifestyle if we want to find better health. The specific traits which help keep us healthy are:

Daily movement with extended physical activity

Every person has a purpose at every age

Did not eat three meals a day

Diet of wild grains, fish, and a little red meat

Dr. Landry’s Tips to Compression of Morbidity

Due to time constraints, Dr. Landry was not able to delve into all ten of the tips from his book during Jason’s interview, but he highlighted a few of those he deemed most important and interesting.

Challenge Your Brain

Only recently have doctors and scientists come to view the brain as anything other than a static organ that is bound to decline in function as it ages. Studies now suggest that, just like a muscle, the brain can be strengthened to challenge disease or injury at any age. As you may be aware, the secret to the brain lies in the ability to preserve old neural pathways and create new ones through the stimulation of new experiences.

If you’re like most people, your daily routine has become, well, routine. New neural pathways are born everyday, but if you don’t do anything out of the ordinary, they die from lack of use. Landry suggests we make a conscious effort to get out of our comfort zone on a regular basis. Learning new things is the best sort of mental stimulation around. Try out a musical instrument or foreign language. Scientists have found that certain areas of the brain actually grow larger when you’re learning.

Never Act Your Age

Possibly one of the most pervasive stereotypes to be observed is the one that marginalizes older people as being done with living, having nothing left to contribute to society. Don’t buy into that load of malarkey! Age is nothing more than a stereotypical acceptance of the process of decline. It’s up to each of us to acknowledge the incredible potential available to us even into our 70s, 80s, and 90s. The key is to set higher expectations.

As Jason pointed out, the stereotype is already changing. Check out how a 50-year-old was depicted in movies from the 1970s. Compare that to modern movies. In particular, The Expendables comes to mind, where we have a 60ish Sylvester Stallone still mixing it up like Rocky and Rambo in their heyday. But even outside of action stars, the media now allows men (and sometimes women) to be cool, charming, sexy, and productive even as their biological age creeps north of 50. Hello George Clooney and Meryl Streep.

Get the Book Already

For a more in depth look at Dr. Roger Landry’s advice on aging well, visit his website and learn more about the man and his tips for living longer and dying shorter. (Image: Flickr | Sherri Abendroth)

Read more from Jason Hartman:

Change Your Miserable Life and Find Better Health

Regenerative Medicine and Age Management

The Longevity Show Team


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