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'I'm 82, Triathlete and Living a Full Life': Secrets to Healthy and Active Aging

Joseph Maroon, MD, 82-year-old triathlete and longevity expert, shares his tips for staying healthy and full of energy at any age. well good.

Photo: IStock

Today, Joseph Maroon, MD, FACS, is an 82-year-old triathlete, former neurosurgeon, longevity expert, and current member of the Aviv Global Consortium on Aging. But when he was in his 40s (before he ever thought about running, biking and swimming), he experienced what he calls the "earthquake of life." Personal loss led him to such a deep depression that he had to give up neurosurgery.

Then one day a worried business partner called him and asked him to go for a run. Although Dr. Maroon could barely get out of bed, a colleague convinced him to try.

“I was exhausted and tired, but that night after the run was the first night I slept in three or four months,” says Dr. Maroon.

He slowly but surely continued to run and even began to integrate swimming and cycling into his new fitness regimen. He eventually became a triathlete.

Triathlon is a sport that is a multi-sport race, consisting of a continuous successive passage by its participants of three stages: swimming, cycling and running, each of which comes from an independent cyclic sport.

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Looking back, he realized that he was healing his brain with his body. Exercise is one way to prevent depression, but it can also treat depression because physical activity stimulates the brain to form new neural connections, which improves brain health overall. After Dr. Maroon was able to start practicing neurosurgery again, he even found himself a better person, he became a "more empathetic" doctor to patients.

While the exercises helped Dr. Maroon recover from a life crisis, the experience also forced him to rethink his approach to life as a former "workaholic". Therefore, the longevity expert believes that in order to stay mentally and physically fit, you need to cultivate balance in your life and in a world rife with global and personal problems.

“This is essential if you want to work at peak performance,” says Dr. Maroon.

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Balance is easier said than done, but Dr. Maroon says it's a useful exercise to think of the four components of your life as the four sides of a square. Four sides: work, family/society, physical and spiritual sides. The length of a side represents the amount of time spent and the importance given to that aspect. So, with a pen on a piece of paper, draw your square. Seriously: go and actually do it. If one side is longer or shorter than either side, you'll end up with more of a trapezoid than a square, and you can visually see if your timing and priorities are in order. Cultivating balance means flattening these sides to form these 90 degree angles.

Of course, there are times when some part of our lives has more priority, and experts agree that this is normal. The main thing is that it was a conscious choice.

“Be mindful and aware,” says Dr. Maroon. “Most people, like myself, are automatons. I functioned, I got through the day, I did everything by reacting to sensory input from other people and other circumstances without realizing where my life was going or what I was doing. Bring awareness and mindfulness into your life daily.”

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For Dr. Maroon, this balance forms the basis for reducing stress, integrating physical activity, finding meaning, and nourishing the body in a way that promotes both mental and physical development. Which he considers to be closely related.

“Things that improve mental acuity also improve physical performance,” says Dr. Maroon, “they complement each other.”

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