'19 They also recommend several key staples of good fitness, including moderate-to-vigorous cardiovascular/aerobic exercise, stretching and flexibility exercises, and even the development and maintenance of total body strength across a life span (though the overall emphasis still seems to be on cardiovascular health). According to Todd Miller, an associate professor in the Department of Exercise Science at George Washington University, everyone should engage in strength training, but only about one in five Americans follow government exercise guidelines. 20 But even for the 20 percent of Americans who do, these guidelines remain a starting point at best. Taking them at face value, it's hard to know how to build muscle and bone strength safely and effectively to achieve a good range of movement through the joints (and people actually need range of motion more than the muscular flexibility they chase through stretching). Even more important, how do we actually develop the cardiovascular system? For all the emphasis on 'heart health' and cardiovascular disease prevention, we shouldn't forget: the heart is a muscle too. The average person will probably associate strength training with bodybuilding, big muscles, and testosterone-filled gymnasiums full of grunting men. This perception, married to the public health and media bias toward cardio-based exercise, and the common understanding that weight loss requires us to 'burn calories,' accounts for the popular notion that cardio is 'king. ' People think that the best way to burn a lot of calories is to perform exercises that lead to an increased and sustained heart rate. Gyms, moreover, are expensive and difficult to get to. Besides being some of the wisest advice we ever received for dealing with our own children, this recommendation to 'just listen' opened up a new way of being with others, especially when they had something important they wanted to share. When we took this advice, our relationship with our children changed dramatically. They felt free to share their life and experiences with us and, because we did not offer advice all the time, they felt safe. Now our children are all adults. People are often surprised at how often the kids call us, just to talk. Of course, we still feel the urge to give advice, to try to fit them into a box that would make us comfortable, and sometimes we do offer advice. But advice can be taken as judgment, and we have noticed that there is a definite relationship between how much advice we give and how often we hear from our adult offspring. Too much advice definitely lowers the amount of true communication. By listening deeply we come to know when advice is really being sought, and we become more sensitive to the way it should be presented or if it should be presented at all. We learn the wisdom that knowing answers does not require stating them;

Fluid intelligence is on-the-spot reasoning ability--a kind of raw mental agility that doesn't depend completely on prior learning. It includes the speed with which information can be analyzed as well as attention and memory capacity. This is the type of native intelligence that IQ tests strive (not always successfully) to measure. Crystallized intelligence, on the other hand, is accumulated information and vocabulary acquired from school and everyday life. It also encompasses the application of skills and knowledge to solving problems. Many studies have shown that fluid intelligence slowly declines with age, whereas crystallized intelligence often improves or expands. Many people continue to gain expertise and skills in particular areas throughout life. The great historian Arnold Toynbee was referring to crystallized intelligence when he remarked, at age seventy-seven, that 'my reward for having reached my present age is that this has given me time to carry out more than the whole of my original agenda; and an historian's work is of the kind in which time is a necessary condition for achievement. ' She was hanging out with another guy. In bed. Brutal rug pull. I was devastated. I went through all the emotions. I started in this unbearably painful period of shock. I couldn't believe this had happened and didn't understand why it had. In a way that made sense then and doesn't now, I needed answers. Over the next week I made a thorough list of all the things I needed to get to the bottom of so I could fully process what I was feeling. In getting my answers, my shock gave way to denial.

Listen to me. ' And I do. It's all about that 'gut feeling'. Try to start making your decisions about life from your belly rather than from your mind. Your mind often overthinks things, whereas your gut (where your intuition lives) just KNOWS the best move forward in any given situation. To practise trusting your intuition, each morning when you wake up bring to mind two or three decisions that you need to make that day. This could be as simple as what you are going to wear or eat for breakfast, or something a little more involved, such as which friend you might invite out for a drink. Whatever it is, make a conscious effort not to overthink the decision - just go with your gut. Don't question it. You get the idea. Cultivating a passion for life and maintaining our ability to be engaged and to grow means intentionally activating our mental focus and performing at our best, but then alternating those periods of intense concentration with moments--or hours or days or weeks--to reflect and recharge. We can't stay in an alert, activated state at all times. We will only damage our minds and bodies through overwork or overactivation (in relation to our focus and beta state). Remember the five sacrifices (see here)? Four of them are linked to a perpetually overactivated state: giving up health for wealth, quality for quantity, response-ability for reaction, and internal motivation for external rewards. The fifth names a culprit that steals away our focus when we really need it: sacrificing attention for distraction. To reach the heights of which we're all capable--to be our own version, in our own way, of the contemporary or historical greats we admire--we need to take our mental abilities seriously and cultivate them sensibly, to be stewards and not just users of our minds and bodies. This means taking action against the world in some ways. Because let's be honest: This is a world that sends us messages to go faster, do more, keep connected, and stay busy.

It's much easier to slap on a pair of running shoes or hop on a stationary bike and get your heart rate up. In truth, poor cardiovascular fitness isn't what stops you from picking up your three-year-old grandchild or getting out of a chair in your eighties. An efficient heart isn't what stops you from falling over and breaking a bone should you lose balance. You interact with the world either by exerting force against something (for instance, walking up a flight of stairs) or by resisting the forces being applied to your body and dissipating their effect (for instance, minimizing the impact of a fall). For all of us, and especially women, gaining more physical strength allows us to engage more fully and self-confidently with the world than virtually any other exercise modality, and this is especially true as we age. In recent years, high-intensity interval training has been the exercise modality du jour. HIIT programs might feature single bouts of maximum-effort sprints, or the classic (though potentially overused) Tabata intervals of twenty-second efforts interspersed with ten-second rest intervals and repeated eight times. 21 Rooted in the circuit training of yesteryear, HIIT represents a welcome departure from traditional physical activity guidelines that have focused on high-frequency exercise most days of the week, at a moderate to vigorous intensity, and at relatively longer durations. Over the last couple of decades, more research has focused on the benefits of lower-frequency and higher-intensity training. Working through slightly different physiological pathways than the classic continuous aerobic exercise, these high-intensity intervals have proven themselves to be as beneficial as high-frequency, lower-intensity, longer-duration exercise, if not more. that there are times when offering answers is not helpful, as when a person is in the middle of their own learning process. A long time ago I read about a professor at the University of Chicago who added a new definition the word 'duologue' to describe one of the ways we fail to listen. He defined a 'duologue' as two running monologues. This is a very common phenomenon. It may even seem familiar. In a duologue, we can barely wait to have our turn to talk. As soon as we hear something in the other person's monologue to which we have a response, we stop listening, and focus instead on what we are going to say next. If both conversationalists choose this form, neither participant in the conversation hears what the other is saying. Each is trying to jump in and make their point, to continue their monologue. While we are waiting our turn, we cling to the point in our mind, lest we lose it, and we even begin to think about how to elaborate on it.

I'd like to end this article by reflecting on one of the most remarkable older adults of the twentieth century: Jeanne Louise Calment. Madame Calment was born in France in 1875 and lived to be 122, making her the oldest human being for which we have unequivocal documentation. She also embodied the truth that cognitive decline is not inevitable and that wisdom is often the golden fruit of age. Her mind remained sharp to the end, although around the age of 115, her eyesight, hearing, and mobility declined rapidly. The French media regularly referred to her as the 'doyenne of humanity,' and throughout the 1980s and 1990s she was a regular fixture in the press (she died on August 4, 1997). Her quick wit and pungent sense of humor made her ever popular. Once, asked about the effects of aging, she quipped, 'I've only one wrinkle and I am sitting on it. ' She ate and drank whatever she wanted--continuing her tradition of daily glasses of port until the end, although by then she had reduced her intake of chocolate from her earlier ration--she claimed--of two pounds a week. Some of her charm can be gleaned from the following quotations, all taken from interviews conducted after her 110th birthday: 'We were just giving each other backrubs, like friends do. ' She fed me that line and I actually believed. I wanted to believe it. I needed to believe it, even though I knew it wasn't true. I want to slap that younger Dave square in the head. Tell him so many things. My denial gave way to bargaining. This person who had betrayed my trust was now someone I was trying to redraw relationship lines with so we could get on back to neutral. Bargaining? Completely ineffective in the long term, but it felt like the only way to ease the pain then.