By Tino Mantella
TLG President & CEO
I suppose that just about every adult in the world has thought about what they have lost during the pandemic. If they have children in school, they may wonder if remote work has put them behind and whether they will ever catch up. People who have experienced Covid-19 and those that are thinking they are in line to get it are generally asking themselves if there will be long-term consequences. Loneliness can take the shape of an elderly man or women isolated in a nursing home that hasn’t allowed visitors for two years or more. Or, having a loved one go into a hospital, as was the case with our daughter, and not having someone to hold their hand before treatment. What about a newly minted college grad who has never had a chance to meet face to face with peers or leaders at any level?
I met with one such young man who was hoping to make a big splash in his first real job by showing what he could do while learning from the experts. Now he plans to leave the company because of a lack of network and a feeling of little chance for promotion. Many of us also have a fear of traveling or the stress of traveling. We make plans and drop plans to visit families or to travel to new destinations. For example, leaders in our company planned to take a special Disney Cruise with their children and grandchildren, over a year ago. They are now on their third cancellation with a new date set for the fall.
The Effects of Covid-19 on our Health
I am a relatively happy guy, so I apologize if the above paragraphs depressed you. The point I wanted to make, by using the above examples, is that loneliness and stress brought forth by an infectious disease can actually affect our cellular aging “making us less healthy and shortening our lifespans”. This statement is supported by a January 19th, 2022, article in the Journal of Medicine. Laura Fonken is a neuroscientist at the University of Texas in Austin. She points out what we already know, that even people never infected with Covid-19 can experience advanced aging from stress. Loss of a job, death, or health issues of a loved one, and general anxiety are contributors to such things as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
Enough with the bad stuff. My view is that we have choices that can enable us to live longer and healthier lives. Of course, we can all fall victim to a disease that is beyond our control and/or is beyond the book of scientific knowledge as of this date in ‘22’. That aside, what can we do?
In the book “Younger Next Year”, authors Crowley and Lodge provide a guidebook to “living like 50 until you’re 80 and beyond”. Okay, those of you under 50 might be planning to stop reading at this point. No, no, no, it’s really a lifestyle. Starting at any age is the way to go. Many of you might think it’s the luck of your genes. These authors say that’s only 20% of the picture. They also say that it’s possible to stave off 70% of normal decay associated with aging. Interestingly, Crowley and Lodge discuss graceful aging as opposed to letting bodies decay.
Here is what the authors tell us to do to age gracefully:
1.) Exercise at least 30 minutes six days a week
2.) Eat what you know you should and don’t eat what you know you shouldn’t
3.) Connect with other people
4.) Be passionate about something
5.) Don’t overdrink
6.) Maintain a healthy weight
It’s not rocket science folks. I am not saying it’s easy but it’s possible for most of us.
I want to conclude by suggesting that we all say, “damn the torpedoes”. The pandemic has been tough for many of us. During this difficult period, which is hopefully coming to an end, we can all do our best to stay healthy mentally and physically. Whether you are 65 or 25, don’t wait. Start today.