Why bodybuilding at age 93 is a great idea: Charles Eugster at TEDxZurich


Translator: Robert Tucker
Reviewer: Ariana Bleau Lugo Let me start first with a brief story. Before attending a dinner
at my rowing club, I went into the bar. Seeing an attractive young lady… (Laughter) I thought that I would chat her up. Suddenly, there was an influx of people,
and we were pressed together. My nose was squashed in the cleavage
between two magnificent breasts. My embarrassment made me realize
how tall the lovely lady was. (Laughter) I had, in fact, been introduced to one
of the many continuing rapid changes related to our human bodies. The increase of height of 10cm
during the last few hundred years seems to have peeked in 1970. Here I am, rowing at the age of 91 with a 15 year old, who is already
well over a head taller than me. There is continuing increase in girth. Obesity is now
a major world health problem. World obesity has doubled since 1980. 12% of the world’s population is obese. In the Americas, it is even 26%. Obesity can cause diabetes,
heart disease and cancer. Already 10% of the world’s population
suffer from diabetes. A world pandemic of diabetes
is already a reality. By 2030 it is estimated that 50%
of the US population will be obese. In obesity, it is the prefrontal part
of the brain that shrinks. The prospect of the most powerful nation
of the world with 50% of the US population
having shrinking brains is frightening! (Laughter, Applause) Never in human history have so many humans
been so overweight and so obese. The world’s population is now 7 billion. Very soon there will be 8 billion people
inhabiting the Earth. If at this point,
a pandemic were to destroy half of the world’s population, there would still be double the amount
of people that existed when I was a child! The continuing aging of the population is one of the most remarkable
success stories of the human race in modern history. There will soon be more people over 60
than children under 15. But man has destroyed the wonder of aging by transforming it into an age
of degeneration and disease. 92.2% of the over 65 in the United States
has one or more chronic diseases. 40% of the 60+ take 5 or more
medicaments a day. 45% of the 85+ have Alzheimer’s. Natural, healthy aging is unseen, covered by a blanket of disease. In fact, it is falsely assumed that disease is
a natural consequence of aging. Lift up the blanket
and there could be surprises. (Laughter) Lifelong work, continuous education,
competition in strenuous sports, beauty queens in old age
could be a reality. The aged now, however,
are over nourished, over medicated and physically and mentally inactive. Inactivity is a major cause of death. How did this happen? Our bodies are still those
of the Paleolithic era. When we were hunter-gatherers,
food was scarce, that as much food as possible was consumed
and the excess stored as fat, so that we could survive the next famine. As physical and mental activity
was enormous, unnecessary activity was avoided. Today, with an excess of food, and survival no longer dependent
on huge physical and mental effort, our instincts still tell us to consume an excess of food
and avoid activity as much as possible. Those instincts that in the past enabled us to survive
are now destroying us. But successful aging is possible. There are three factors that
contribute to successful aging. They are work, diet, and exercise,
in that order. (Laughter) I will address each in turn. Work. The aged suffer from inactivity,
poor diet, overweight, diabetes etc, just as the general population does,
but in addition, this is severely compounded
by retirement. Retirement is voluntary or involuntary unemployment
for up to 30 years. We know that unemployment
causes chronic disease and mental problems, as well as poor health, disability, more medical consultations,
more medication, more hospital admissions. Work, on the other hand, is therapeutic, good for health, and is an intrinsic part of improving
and maintaining health. Work is a determinant of self-worth, family esteem, identity, and standing in the community. This graph shows the energy expenditure
at different ages. One can see that in retirement, the physical energy expenditure
for occupation is removed, and the pensioner is left with little
or no physical or mental activity. Remember, inactivity kills! In the UK, retirement was reduced
from the age of 70 to 65 in 1946, when life expectancy was 65 years. The retirement age was never intended
to be earlier than life expectancy. Today, however, retirement
can start 25 to 30 years earlier than life expectancy. Our pension schemes
are financially unsustainable. It is that destructive effects
of retirement on physical and mental health
that have not only been ignored, but vastly underestimated. It is essential that the aged
be integrated into the workforce, not only for financial,
but also for health reasons. Retirement is not the end, it can be a new beginning, a chance… (Applause) … a chance to build a new body, develop dormant talents, and start
a new life for the next 30 years. Start a new successful company. The 55 to 65 decade is the highest decade
of entrepreneurial activity, with the highest long-term success rate. You have nothing to lose
except the chains of convention. (Applause) Retirement is a massive health calamity and a future financial disaster. Diet. Fast, processed and junk food
together with soft drinks take advantage of our cravings. Consuming these foods
can lead to nutritional imbalance. Exercise. Vanity is a huge asset. (Laughter) Even at 87, I wanted an Adonis body in order to turn the heads of these sexy, young 70 year-old girls
on the beach. I wanted a six pack,
but my coach said, we must first work on my bottom,
which, she said, was a catastrophe. (Laughter) Exercise is both a preventive measure
and a treatment. The success rate of exercise therapy
for a number of conditions is well over 40%. The number of diseases that are treatable
by exercise is continuously increasing. Research has shown that
those who participate in strenuous competitive sports
live longer. Obviously, training for competition
is more intense, and in addition, competition gives
valuable adrenaline rushes. At present, longer life expectancy
means an ever-extending period of state-supported
or company-financed retirement, more disability and more health costs. This was never anticipated. By 2025 it is estimated that
the cost of interest payments, Medicare, Medicaid and social security will consume all US federal income. The economic consequences
of chronic disease are so substantial that if present trends continue nation states could be bankrupted. In the near future,
it will be those countries that have the healthiest populations with the healthiest brains
that will rule the world. What can you do? Save your health and save humanity. One of the most interesting developments
is the fact that we can rebuild old bodies. The body of an 80-year-old has lost
about 50% of his muscle mass since the age of 50, which has been replaced by fat. By removing the fat and
regenerating lost muscle, we can give the 80-year-old
a body composition similar to that one of 20
or even 30 years younger. Two men. The first is 20 years older
than the second. Not the other way around. A beach party at 90 is no longer a dream
but a real possibility. I have little time to tell you more, but you have no time to lose. You can rebuild your body at any age. It’s like trading in your car
for a new one. When I was in Chicago in 1950, I traded in my Chevrolet,
list price $3,000, for an Oldsmobile 98,
list price $5,000. I asked the salesman: What is the difference
between these two cars? He said two words: more car. What do you get when you trade in
your body for a new one? More body, more mind, more spirit! Go for it! (Applause) Dania Gerhardt: This was
wonderful Charles. I mean, I don’t have to add anything,
the reaction is so obvious. I really love it that bodybuilding
will save humanity, I guess. So, I can also imagine that after this a lot of people will, in the next break, maybe go for the fruit
rather than for the cake, and maybe run home
instead of taking the train. Would that make you happy? Charles Eugster:
Well, as far as fruit [is] concerned, I would just like to say that
in the Garden of Eden, if Adam had refused
the fruit offered by Eve, and instead eaten the snake, protein, (Laughter) the world would be different. (Laughter) (Applause) Dania Gerhardt: Thank you, Charles.
Thank you so much. Thank you. Wonderful. (Applause)

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