Dr. Joseph Maroon is an 83-year-old neurosurgeon and triathlete who got back into shape in his 40s.
He made many changes to improve his longevity and health, in addition to eating right and exercising.
These include avoiding stress, alcohol and tobacco, and being spiritual.
A 83 year old doctor and triathlete who became fit and healthy in his 40s told Business Insider what he thinks are his secrets to longevity, beyond simply exercising and eating right.
At the age of 40, Joseph Maron, a neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, was so incapacitated that he had difficulty climbing stairs. After his divorce and the death of his father – meaning he had to temporarily give up neurosurgery to take over the family truck stop – he also found himself struggling mentally.
So when a friend contacted him and encouraged him to go running, Maroon was willing to try anything to feel better. It worked and launched a decades-long fitness journey. Now 83, Maroon has completed eight Ironman triathlons since he signed up for his first thirty years ago.
Maroon, who recently participated in the Aviv clinics Global Consortium on Aginghas previously shared his key diet principles and fitness tips with BI, but he also swears by the four tactics below to stay healthy.
For Maroon, a big part of healthy living is preventing stress.
Maroon is always trying to balance his four priorities in life: work, family and friends, spirituality and exercise. He considers the part each person takes of his day and plans his time so that he can fit in all four.
Chronic stress keeps the body in fight-or-flight mode, he said. This in turn can lead to a range of symptoms from depression and anxiety to lack of sleep and headaches. Long-term stress is also thought to be a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Finding space for spirituality
“I bring spirituality into everything I do,” Maroon said, including how he cares for his patients, his relationships with his family and his daily ethics.
By spirituality, he doesn’t just mean being religious. “I mean the spiritual beliefs that unfold in rituals and in various ethics, or the belief in a higher being or that there is something greater than us. It can be in nature or whatever you choose,” he said.
Research suggests that spiritual practices and beliefs can provide purpose in life and help build psychological resilience, linked to longevity and greater life satisfaction in older adults.
A 2016 study, for example, found that attending a religious service one or more times per week was associated with a 33% lower mortality rate.
BI previously reported that Latin American supercentenarianspeople who live to be 110 and older tend to be very religious.
Don’t drink, smoke or take drugs
Everyone seems to have a story about a centenarian relative who drank and smoked until the day they died, like Agnes Fentonwho drank a glass of whiskey and smoked three cigarettes a day, and died at the age of 112.
But the facts show that alcohol, cigarettes and drugs are not good for longevity. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year and more than 106,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2021.
Although some research suggests that drinking wine can be beneficialIt is important to note that the World Health Organization maintains that no level of alcohol consumption is safe for our health.
Get enough sleep
Regularly get enough sleep is also important for longevity, Maroon said.
Quality sleep is known to have many health benefits. It’s linked to a healthier metabolism, which may help prevent obesity, a stronger immune system, and a lower risk of coronary heart disease, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, among others.
Sleeping well can also help you stick to your diet and exercise goals, BI’s Gabby Landsverk previously reported.
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