Longevity expert exercises minds on how to live to be 120

Wed, Jul 18, 2012, 01:00

YOU MIGHT want a long life – but do you want to live to be 120? If so, then a Stanford University professor on a visit to Trinity College Dublin today believes he can tell you how.

Prof Walter Bortz is a clinical professor of medicine at Stanford’s school of medicine and a scientific expert on ageing and longevity. He focuses on the importance of physical exercise if you want to live to a ripe old age.

He also practises what he preaches, running an average of 16 miles a week, even though he is 82. He has clocked up 41 marathons so far, including New York in 2008 in Boston in 2010.

His talk on The Plasticity of Human Ageing has been organised by Trinity’s Tilda research group, the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

Tilda is a long-term study of more than 8,500 people living in Ireland and aged over 50. It will chart their health, social and economic circumstances over 10 years and looks at a wide range of issues, including physical and mental health, and their cognitive function as they age.

If you want to know where Prof Bortz is coming from then look at the titles of his books and publications: The Roadmap to 100: The Breakthrough Science of Living a Long Life; We Live Too Short and Die Too Long and Dare to be 100.

He argues that our potential life expectancy is about 120 years and the advice he will give about reaching a ripe old age comes from serving as a primary care physician for dozens of 100-year-olds.

Prof Bortz says the maxim “use it or lose it” is what makes all the difference. The negative effects of ageing are due to disuse, he says, not disease, and like any guru he will offer a plan for keeping active physically, mentally and spiritually.

The lecture takes place at 4pm in the Schrödinger lecture theatre in the Fitzgerald Building.