Of course, some of that is not so much age as it is wear and tear. As Indiana Jones said, "It's not the years; it's the mileage. Over use, misuse, and abuse. I should spend a couple of hours every day on physical therapy, but I don't have that much time, so I don't.
Here's my theory on how long a person lives: Neil Armstrong was right, but he was wrong. The first man on the moon was different from his peers in at least one respect. Most if not all of them were dedicated exercisers. He was not. His philosophy was that a person's heart has only so many beats, and he didn't want to waste any of them.
He was wrong because regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, saves heartbeats. An example: Ignoring the time it takes to gain necessary fitness, thirty minutes a day, five days a week, achieving a heart rate of 160 beats per minute while the resting heart rate is seventy. That seems to "waste" 2700 heart beats five days a week—13,500 beats every week.
However, with that regular exercise, the resting heart rate will drop to sixty beats per minute (or less, or not quite that low, depending on age and physical condition) which will save ten beats per minute for the other twenty-three hours and thirty minutes every day, which equals 1410 minutes, which saves 14,100 beats every day. So, that regular exercise saves more beats per day than the extra beats used in a week. Let's go a step farther. That comes out to 5,146,500 heart beats every year. 36,792,000 heart beats per year at 70 beats per minute. 31,536,000 heart beats per year at 60 beats per minute, plus the 702,000 used for the exercise equals 32,238,000 per year. So that simple exercise can save you over 4 million 500 thousand beats every year.`
Yeah, I know the two savings numbers don't quite match. I figured from two different approaches. One reason is that in one of those examples I figured the exercise rates for seven days a week instead of five.
Obviously this does not take into account heart rates raised through work or additional aerobic exercise. But it's easy to see how steady aerobic exercise can help a person live longer.
One of the disadvantages of "the mileage" is that I can't do that anymore. My toes and my left hip flexors are too painful. Still, I do get in a two-mile walk on a treadmill at an average of 4.2 mph. Average walking speed for an adult human is between three and four mph. (Average walking speed for a horse is the same.) One reason to use a treadmill is that I can make sure I keep up the speed. If I just walk outside I tend to gradually and unintentionally slow down. Unfortunately, it's only once a week. I have three days a week I don't work, but I spend the other two on anaerobic exercise—weight-lifting, a plank, sit-ups, etc. Including warm-up, warm-down and stretching, I devote about an hour a day at that. These exercises, too, have become limited due to "the mileage."
Okay, wandered off on a tangent there. To continue my original point, I believe Armstrong was correct—each person's heart has only so many beats in it and a person can do nothing to increase that number. This is based mostly on anecdotal evidence. But it seems likely that genetics determines how many heart beats we have available. They can, however, maximize the number of days and years that predetermined number lasts, as the example above demonstrates.
On the other end, it is far too easy to reduce the number of heartbeats a heart manages. Smoking, alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, all can significantly reduce the heart's potential. There are also diseases like diabetes that can reduce the heart's life time. Diabetes, cancer and some other diseases are also linked to genetic affinity.
And still other things that reduce the heart's ability to perform to its ultimate potential: poison, Covid-19, and other diseases brought on by environmental factors. Trauma, too, can have an adverse effect. Being hit by a truck will definitely interfere with heart function.
This was certainly a different kind of blog than usual, but I felt like writing about some of the things on my mind as I finish my seventieth year.
Happy Givethanksing. If you happen to have The Decades Channel somewhere in your cable or satellite menu, Thanksgiving day will feature the Dan Martin Roasts. Some of those are really funny.
And don't forget to read!
Thanks for dropping by.