The Secrets of Superagers

New research on people who appear resistant to brain-aging offers new clues about keeping your mind sharp and healthy.

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Monday motivation

  • The secrets of superagers

  • Workout of the week

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Arnold’s Corner: Monday Motivation

Today, I want to talk about planning.

In more than 50 years of my fitness crusade, I cannot count how many times I’ve heard people say they are planning on starting to train or planning on starting a diet.

It is always a plan to start on Monday, or the first of the month, or next year. It is never a plan to start now.

I see it in the comments of the Pump Club app, in the replies to our daily emails here, and I even hear it from people in the gym.

Always planning.

Everybody who plans has good intentions, but let’s be honest about what it really is.

Planning means you’re not taking action. You’re choosing to avoid getting started.

Doing takes effort. Choosing to work on yourself is hard. You know it will be uncomfortable. Changing the status quo is never easy.

So you plan. You research. You spin your wheels until you say you wish you could be healthy. And then you start all over, planning and wishing.

You wait and wait.

And then, sometimes, the choice is made for you.

I spoke to the annual convention of thoracic surgeons last month. When I sat down to talk to some of my cardiologist friends for coffee after my fireside chat, it was clear most people wait until the choice is made for them — or until it’s too late to make any choices at all.

They told me what we do here is important because they see patients who wait to do anything about their health every day until they find themselves in an emergency.

Let’s be completely honest with ourselves. Planning makes us feel good because we tell ourselves we will be better without doing any uncomfortable work.

People love to research the best diet and workout for months because it gives them hope without having to sweat it out or fight a little bit of hunger.

It might surprise you to hear me talk about plans this way since I always tell you the importance of having a vision. A vision is very different than a plan.

Your vision might be to be healthy and fit. It might be to lift huge weights. It might be to play with your kids without pain.

Once you know your vision, you don’t sit and research. You get to work. You do everything you can to make that vision a reality.

Yes, there will be mistakes and setbacks along the way. There will be discomfort and pain. But you will be moving forward, not sitting still and planning. You will learn and adjust as you go, but you will never be stuck with the status quo.

Who do you think gains more strength? The person who researches the perfect plan all week, or the person who trains all week without worrying about the details?

Who do you think loses more weight? The person reading a diet book this month or the person who just cut out snacks after dinner this month?

So tell me: what plans have you been making for yourself?

And when will you cut all that out and just get to work?

It’s time to be a do-er. Not a planner.

Let’s go.

The Secrets of Superagers

Have you ever wondered why your memory starts to fade as you age? It might be no different than why your body appears to get weaker. Atrophy

New research suggests brain shrinkage could be a primary driver of age-related memory loss. 

For the last ten years, scientists have been studying “superagers” — people in their 80s (and older) who somehow have the memory capacity of people 30 years younger. It appears their brains resist the slowdown typically associated with old age. 

The latest study found that the superagers had a brain pump — more volume in their hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, which play an essential part in memory. And they had more white matter. Typically, white matter decreases, which means your neural network doesn’t communicate as well throughout your brain structures. It’s like downgrading from high-speed internet back to dial-up. 

Also worth noting, superagers showed almost no signs of neurodegeneration, such as a buildup of amyloid or tau, which contributes to diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia. 

Scientists don’t yet know what makes someone a superager; they appear rare. But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. While some superagers might be a byproduct of winning the genetic lottery, there are a few commonalities. 

Unlocking the superpower likely has more to do with what happens earlier in life than once you hit your 80s. Superagers have lower blood pressure, good mobility, better mental health, social connections, and appear very active in middle age. 

If you want a place to start, try the workout of the week below. It’s designed to give a mix of resistance training to help lower blood pressure and movements that can improve your mobility. 

Workout of the Week

This workout can help you become stronger, move better, or improve recovery from hard training sessions. Each movement is designed to improve mobility, so you move better without pain, no matter what activity you enjoy. 

How to do it:

Perform all of the exercises as a circuit. Do the first movement, and then — resting as little as possible, move to the next. Continue this approach until you have done one set of every exercise. Rest for 2 to 3 minutes, and then repeat the circuit.

Give it a try, and let us know what you think!

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell