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Healthy Aging

By Sheryl Kraft

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You know what appeals to me about Dr. Oz? He seems happy. He seems approachable. And he seems truly excited about what he does. Now, I know everyone doesn't buy into that. A friend of mine actually frowned when I told her I was going to see Dr. Oz at the New York Times Talks series last week. "He's become so commercialized," she uttered. But it's tough to turn away from his enthusiasm, knowledge and messages of health and longevity. And when he says that four-letter word (you know the one I mean), everyone listens.

So, it was after lunch that I got on a very long line to wait for the doors to open to see him interviewed by Tara Parker-Pope. While there were mostly women on that line-of-great-anticipation, there were also a few men scattered around (dragged kicking and screaming by their wives, maybe?)

I first became aware of Dr .Oz at the gym. (No, he wasn't a member of my gym but instead, I watched him on Oprah while toiling away on the treadmill/bike/elliptical). The matter-of-fact way he put health into such simple terms was not only refreshing, but listening to him also helped pass the time and make me forget that I was actually exercising.

On this day, he did it again. "Purpose drives longevity," he declared, before stressing to every one of us that physical activity is the number one way to stay young and maintain good health. He's proof of this (and that the camera adds 10 pounds): he is as trim as an active teenager. "If you can’t walk a quarter-mile in five minutes, your life expectancy drops 30 percent." Now if that's not simple and matter-of-fact, I don't know what is. And a little scary, too, I must admit. When I walked back to Grand Central to get on the train after it was all over, I can swear I walked just a bit faster.

Did you know that your ability to lift yourself out of a chair is a predictor of health? Dr. Oz demonstrated what he meant by that. Think about it: you're sitting in an armchair (or one without arms) and need to stand. Do you hold onto the arms (or even the seat) to push yourself up? That's a big no-no in his book; he says that we need to keep our quadriceps strong so that we can accomplish simple things – like lifting ourselves out of a chair – without help. Ever since that little demo, I've been extra-cautious about standing and sitting without using anything but my legs to lower and lift my body. (To refresh yourself on the best exercises to do for your quads, you can refer to a past post of mine here.

What's most impressive about this health-celeb are his accomplishments: he still performs heart surgery one day each week; he's on TV, the radio, in print and in person. How? I have no idea – I know I could never do even half of what he does - but I gather it's a combination of enthusiasm, will, discipline, energy, organization and sheer brilliance. It's funny, but I found we shared a few commonalities: he can't meditate, either, since thoughts are always rushing into his head (so instead, he takes 7 minutes when he wakes each morning to do a combination of sun salutations, deep breathing and push-ups), and he doesn't like to break for lunch, either (instead he nibbles on little healthy snacks like nuts and fruit throughout the day).

And who couldn't like a guy who talks so glowingly about his wife, giving her credit for all his success, calling her the most sensible, linear thinker he knows? And what about all the talk of poop? (In my house, between my husband and my sons, I figure it’s a "guy thing" to talk about bowel movements and all related matters.) But somehow, Dr. Oz talks matter-of-factly about its floating-and-sinking nature and the meaning behind it all, as if he was talking about what he had for breakfast morning (sorry, bad metaphor).

Rather than attempt to explain it myself (see, it really is a guy thing, I think), I'll let you in on what Frank Bruni wrote in last week's Sunday Times Magazine Section about it: "When he made it O.K. to talk about the shape of a good poop, I knew he could talk about anything," he quotes Oprah as saying. Dr. Oz told her audience that "the bequest of a properly humming gastrointestinal system should be S-shaped and hit the water like an Olympic diver, without much splash."  Quite prolific, don't you think?

Next time you're sitting on the toilet, maybe you'll remember that…and also remember this: when you stand up, try not to hold on. It's a longevity thing, after all.

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Comments

I always enjoyed Dr. Oz on Oprah Show, when I got a chance to watch. However, I did write five letters requesting a show on Lyme Disease and they (or, rather their staff, of course) never even answered me ....

Wow, thank you, Dr. Oz for that lovely visual (not). He's probably right, but I'm not fond of thinking about that. I'm sure there's validity to his tip about getting up from a chair, though. I'll have to pay more attention to how I get up in the future!

I find Dr. Oz to be very authentic and I'm refreshed that he's still practicing medicine so he's still interacting with people in the real world. I don't watch his show, but am happy when I catch and interview with him here and there.

I too am impressed that he is still practicing surgery to keep him in touch with people in the real world. I think it's so important to stay in touch this way~!

What a great post! I would like to read more from Dr. Oz. Having been overseas for the last few years, I haven't heard much about him, but his message seems easy-to-digest and so important for those of us entering our midlife years. Thanks so much for the tip about not holding on, too, and using the right muscles - I'm going to remember that.

Thanks, Christine, glad you got some good tips!

Those walking and standing thoughts are biggies. I'm sure the walking thing is under control, but I'll pay more attention to the getting out of chairs thing from now on. Thx.

Me, too. I have to remind myself NOT to use the armrests to help myself up. But it's a good reminder, don't you think?

I appreciate health gurus who make their tips seem realistic and doable, rather than intimidating and only for those with gazillions of dollars to spend on workshops and high-priced supplements. Most of the time Dr. Oz avoids the "let's pretend we're rich celebs" approach.

Yes, Melanie, I agree with you about the "rich celebs" approach - especially when he gets down on the floor to demonstrate an exercise. He's not afraid to get his suit dirty...

yeah, he's the real good deal. I recently got the chance to talk with him on the phone, and none of this has gone to his head. Just your normal guy.

Good to hear, Alisa!

I love Dr. Oz, he remind me my grandma (she was a wise and happy woman), She used to check my poop once in a wile... because it was the way to know if my stomach was working fine or not. I did the same whit my children and always worked for me too.

What a wise grandma you had! Dr. Oz would approve :)

I'm with you. I love the guy and listen to what he says with rapt attention. Now I'm going to see if I can get out of a chair with just my quads.

let me know how it goes. I'm trying to be conscious, too, of using my quads more and more when I stand up from a sitting position (hands off!)

I'm not real familiar with Dr. Oz (not an Oprah watcher myself)--sounds like he gives good advice. I've never been one to give much thought to, well, the health of certain bodily functions. Maybe I should be watching those Activa commercials more closely.

Well, I'd say that I never gave much thought to those bodily functions, either, until Dr. Oz began to uncover the mystery of it all...

I will working on walking faster from here on out! Good pointers.

Glad to hear that, Kris! Can't hurt, right? I'm naturally a very fast walker. Not sure why, but that's just the way I've always walked.

I find him interesting and approachable too. And I heard him once say that he deferred to his wife when it came to not vaccinating their kids for swine flu.

I like that, MandMe. He's the medical doctor, after all.

maybe it's a cultural thing, we aussies can talk about pooh without freaking out, though i don't know if i need all the graphic details.

whenever i'm feeling nervous about meeting people i say to myself "we all pooh" and that often takes the anxiety away. go figure.

Thanks for the laugh, Sarah! (I've told myself the verysame thing...)

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