When Dr. Peter Attia, a renowned longevity specialist, steps into the gym, his vision extends far beyond the immediate sweat session. He’s sculpting his body for the long haul, aiming to not just survive but thrive into his centennial years. At 50, he’s already paving the way for a future where age doesn’t dictate ability. Attia’s fitness regimen, as detailed on his podcast “The Drive,” revolves around the “Centenarian Decathlon.”
This approach focuses on exercises that enable everyday activities in advanced age, such as rising from the ground without assistance, bending safely, and lifting moderate weights. While the specifics of the decathlon can be tailored to individual preferences, Attia’s goal is clear: remain functionally fit, irrespective of age. To achieve this, Dr. Attia champions four foundational pillars of movement:
Strength Training: Accounting for half of Attia’s routine, resistance training underpins his longevity blueprint. Everyday actions, from lifting a child to hoisting a suitcase, rely on muscular strength. Compound exercises like squats and deadlifts, which engage multiple muscle groups, mirror these daily motions. Those averse to weights can opt for bodyweight exercises like push-ups. Supporting the emphasis on strength, a 2022 study highlighted that combining strength exercises with cardio boosts life expectancy.
Stability Workouts: As we age, stability becomes pivotal in injury prevention. Attia underscores the importance of exercises that enhance bodily control. Achieving a one-minute plank or rising using just one arm are among his stability benchmarks. Initiating workouts with stability exercises like step-ups, he believes, can lead to a more robust core and better posture.
Low-Intensity Cardio: While muscular prowess is vital, cardiovascular health shouldn’t be sidelined. Low-intensity aerobic workouts, as Dr. Attia and sports medicine expert Dr. Morgan Busko contend, are crucial for heart health. These exercises promote mitochondrial growth, the powerhouses of our cells, refining our energy utilization and enhancing stamina over time.
High-Intensity Exercise: Attia advocates for periodic high-intensity workouts, such as stair-climbing or rucking (carrying a weighted backpack). VO2 max, a measure of one’s peak oxygen usage during exercise, can be maintained with such regimens. This, in turn, safeguards health and ensures continued engagement in beloved activities as one ages.
For individuals who might be daunted by the advancing years and find themselves hesitant to take the first steps on the path to fitness, Dr. Attia provides a beacon of hope and inspiration. He firmly believes that age is just a number and that the potential for transformation exists within everyone, regardless of where they are in their life’s timeline. With conviction, he asserts, “It’s never too late. As long as you’re breathing, you have the opportunity and the power to make a meaningful change in your life.”