How can one keep fit and live a long healthy life? Health is a manysided affair. Various factors contribute to health, fitness and vitality in young and old age. Three most important factors, which determine our lives, are (a) nutrition, (b) activities and (c) outlook. Our inherited expectation that the body must wear out over time and we are all fated to suffer, grow old and die creates real biological aging. But the positive side of awareness is also there: that aging is the result of belief. A 50-year-old may feel healthier than a young man of 25 years. The determining factor is psychological age. Negative factors that accelerate aging are depression like inability to express emotion, living alone, lack of regular work routine, financial burdens, getting angry easily and obsessive criticism of self. Positive factors that retard aging are feelings of personal happiness, keeping close friends, feeling in control of personal life, satisfying hobbies, expressing feelings easily and optimism about future. The self image of “I am old” is the worst thing one can hold in her mind. And quality of one’s life depends on the quality of attention. A spiritual person is one who lives fully in the present. Thoughts are usually about the past or the future, but sensations are in the present. We should quickly link sensation with thoughts. Putting attention on one’s feelings gets one closer to the state of witnessing. Pure awareness exists in the gap between thoughts.

Successful aging is far more than avoidance of disease. A long-term study at Duke University found no general decline in intelligence among older subjects (ages 65 to 75) unless they were suffering from high blood pressure. A healthy life demands fulfilment of the following requirements: fresh food, pure water and air, sunlight, exercise, non-violent behaviour, loving emotions, living in the present, listening to one’s body wisdom, needing no external approval and regular meditation of any kind. Diet and nutrition are very important factors in the promotion and maintenance of good health. Seeds, nuts and grains are excellent natural sources of essential nutrients for the preservation of health and prevention of premature aging. Vegetables and fruits are also excellent sources of minerals, vitamins and enzymes. Milk is considered as “Nature’s most nearly perfect food.” The best way to take milk is in its soured form, that is, yogurt, buttermilk, and cottage cheese. Soured milk is in a predigested form and more easily assimilated. Honey helps increase calcium retention in the system and is beneficial in kidney and liver disorders.

Dr Edward Henderson, past president of the American Geriatric Society, says that the age of 100 years is a realistic and conceivable goal. The American Medical Association on Aging has outlined balanced diet, regular elimination of waste products, adequate rest of both mind and body, specific recreational activities, avoidance of excessive emotional tension, pride in a job, participation in community affairs, continued expansion of knowledge, wisdom and experience

are the appropriate tools for healthy aging. Lazy people do not live long. Many and varied interests should be developed so as to keep oneself fully occupied. The mind is at its best when occupied usefully and constructively. The mind should be kept busy in the subject that present a challenge to stimulate and develop thought. The greatest cause of disease without doubt is emotional — worry, fear anxiety, hate, envy and jealousy. All these are the great killers. People should maintain physical strength, mental vigour and zest for living. It is not difficult to achieve all of the above.