Healthy Tips for Elders

Seven Secrets of Longevity

God’s wish is for us to experience long, productive lives to glorify His name and serve Him. Simply living long is not enough; quality of life is what counts. Many today live to be 80 or 90 years old, but their lives are not necessarily productive for God. I suggest to you that the longevity God wishes for us is exemplified in the life of Moses, who climbed Mount Nebo to the top of Pisgah at age 120. We are told that “his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated” (Deut. 34:7, NASB). True longevity means living a long life while being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fit. Christ underscores this in John 10:10: “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.”

As we study the body and how it is made, we realize that the body was designed to be physically active. Thus, the number-one secret of true longevity is regular physical activity. Here are some interesting facts:

• People who walk half an hour daily cut their heart-attack risk in half compared to those who seldom exercise.
• People who are physically active are happier, better able to cope with stress, experience less depression, and sleep more soundly.
• A British study found that people who maintain aerobic fitness may delay biological aging by up to 12 years.1
• The Adventist Health Study found that the best predictor of a long, healthy life is a person’s level of physical activity.
• If you walk half an hour daily, you will burn the equivalent of 15 pounds of fat in a year.
• Regular exercise may help to prevent some of our most common cancers, including breast, colon, prostate, and endometrial cancer.
• Exercise can help you reduce your risk for diabetes, stroke, and hip fractures, as well as lower your blood pressure and keep your weight controlled for life.2

Perhaps, like many Adventist leaders, you already know all this. The question is, are you exercising every day? Research shows that knowledge alone does not necessarily translate into healthy behavior. Despite all the knowledge and counsel regarding exercise, my patients often say, “I don’t have time” or “There is too much to do. Exercise does not fit into my schedule.” Does that sound familiar? In this fast-paced world, with responsibilities for family, job, and church ministry, time is precious. However, what we don’t realize is that we have only one choice when it comes to exercise and our schedule: We must ask ourselves, what best fits my schedule: walking 30 minutes a day or being dead 24 hours a day? It may seem an exaggeration, but it is true. 

Recently I read that Steve Jobs, CEO for Apple computers, is taking a six-month leave of absence due to health issues.3 Jobs battled pancreatic cancer four years ago. Now he is again forced to take time from his busy schedule to regain his health. Some of us may have a tendency to put more value on our health after it is compromised. Perhaps caring for our health becomes a priority only when we are on the verge of losing it. It does not have to be that way. We can start today and, with God’s help, adopt healthier behaviors.

You may ask, “How do I start? What is the best exercise?” Research and inspiration tell us that walking is first on the list. In fact, we read that “a walk, even in winter, would be more beneficial to the health than all the medicine the doctors may prescribe.”4 The North American Division recently launched a new program, “InStep for Life,” to encourage church members to become physically active ( Wouldn’t it be wonderful if pastors and elders would motivate others by example and thus help the church experience God’s desire for each of us to have an abundant life? It is all about choice, and the choice is yours. Isn’t it time you included walking (or some other form of exercise) in your schedule? Start today and take one day at a time. If you do, God’s name will be honored, and the benefits will be yours for a long, productive life.

1 BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, April 10, 2008.
3 apple-nasdaq
4 Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health, 57.

Katia Reinert Family Nurse Practitioner at Washington Adventist Hospital in Maryland, USA