Age is just a number: Charles Eugster

Re-inventing your health in later life

Charles Eugster is a pioneer in health regimes for people over 65, and well beyond. He has won medals for rowing and sprinting in his eighties and nineties! However, his book offers a lot of help for oldies less fanatically fit then he is.

Charles is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine: when in his eighties he started research and personal experiments with ways to rebuild his health and fitness. His approach has three key elements: work, nutrition, and exercise. This book is relevant for anyone age 55 and over: Charles says that decisions from this age on regarding his three key elements have a big impact on the rest of our lives.

Keeping active, physically and mentally, is a crucial part of creative ageing, so he advocates continuing to work till well past statutory retirement age. He acknowledges that it’s harder to find employment when you’re older, but points out that in the US, there are twice as many tech startup founders over 50 as under 25.

The most original and informative parts of this book are about exercise. Loss of muscle mass, or sarcopenia, begins around 30, so by age 60 you’ll typically have lost 15% of your muscle mass. However, Charles’ training with expert coaches has shown how one can regenerate muscle mass even at advanced ages. Key to this is doing resistance strength work, not just aerobic exercise.

This book has a detailed guide to exercises you can do for yourself at home or outdoors, and advice on possibly using a gym. However, he recommends consulting a doctor, and recognises that few professionals in gyms know much about exercise for the over-sixties.

There’s also a chapter on nutrition and diet. Charles’ own life story is woven through the book, and makes entertaining reading. If anyone can encourage you out of your comfy armchair, he can!

Featured image: Charles Eugster running at the Alexandra Stadium