OUT NOW: (Features Plenty of Running Anecdotes)
Ever heard of the life-extension community?
I stumbled upon it while listening to Wait But Why’s Tim Urban interviewed by Tim Ferriss.
The discussion went along the lines of:
Tim: “Ageing is just a glitch, a disease that we can cure.”
Tim: “Yeah, and it’s really interesting all the research that’s going on in Silicon Valley into this area.”
Tim: “Some people think this is both elitist and spooky. A bit like Super-Cannes crossed with Gulliver’s Travels.”
Tim: “Yeah, but I’d much rather all these rich people be throwing the big bucks at this and perhaps in 10 or 20 years we’ll all benefit. Who wouldn’t want to live forever.”
I alternately shook and nodded my head, first in disbelief then in agreement.
Later, I googled it. It turns out billions of pounds a year are being invested in all sorts of anti-ageing technologies by the likes of Sergey Brin (Google) and Peter Thiel (Paypal).
Impressive. There are drugs being tested on mice, bodies being frozen, and rejuvenation biotechnology. Some people think we could even “end ageing forever.”
The thing is, though, while all this, admittedly far-fetched, research could work, no-one knows when.
And for a 45-year-old bloke like me, that’s just not good enough.
I haven’t got billions, I haven’t even got millions, so I’ve had to take life into my own hands.
Rewind to 2012.
When you near 40 you start questioning a few things. Thinking ahead. Making a few changes. This leads many people to buy Harley Davidsons.
I took a slightly harder route. And after five years of exhaustive research, thousands of hours of hard graft, and a struggle of gargantuan proportions, I have a secret to share with you.
I’ve already, inadvertently, without intent, added a year on to my life. And over the next 25 years, I intend to add a few more.
Before I reveal the magic formula, my dirty secret, let me share with you all the side benefits of this FREE wonderdrug. In no particular order:
And it means that every few weeks during winter you can dress up like the guys from the 118 adverts and descend on muddy fields with lots of other middle-aged blokes.
Yes, the wonderdrug of which I speak is running.
You see, it turns out every one hour you run extends your life by seven.
You did read that right.
This was the finding of a very-large-sample size study and extensive desktop research released in spring this year. And that 1:7 ratio is far higher than the life-expectancy-increasing benefits of any other form of exercise.
So I ran some numbers. Or at least Strava ran some numbers for me…
It turns out, as of Crimbo Eve, I ran for 217 hours in 2017, completing 1638 miles. Times 217 by 7 = 1519 hours, or 63 days of extra life. Then, for argument’s sake, times that by 5-and-a-half (I started running age 39.5 and I’ve just turned 45).
Then, again for argument’s sake, let’s say I’m running 31.5 (1638 divided by 52) miles a week until my early 70s (not unfeasible). And what have you got? Errr, roughly six years added to my life.
There are a fair few variables (injury being one of them) so the realistic me was delighted to read, when I dug into the study, that the life expectancy gains are capped at three years, however much you run (four hours per week is the optimum, any more and you’re wasting your time, if your sole aim when running is life-extension).
Which makes everything that much more achievable and, certainly for this runner, an extra three years’ life is as near a certainty as I’ll get aside from death and taxes.
My point is this. Until those American billionaires sort themselves, their kids, and their mates out, then it takes 10 years to commercialise the technology for the masses, the best way to increase your life expectancy is the slightly-less-costly action of lacing up your trainers and running out of your front door.
You’ll add at least three years on to your life and, if you stick at it, just think of those side benefits.