Bernard Hopkins this past weekend once again made history by maintaining his record as being the oldest boxer to hold a championship by unifying the IBF/WBA light heavyweight championships at 49 years old defeating Beibut Shumenov (30 years old). It has been remarkable to witness someone at his age flourish in a sport as brutal as boxing. "I'm special, in a way that is good," Hopkins said. "I don't have to explain special. There is no definition for special. Special speaks for itself. I had a great night. I am a great champion."
|Bernard Hopkins (49), light heavyweight champion|
Hopkins is an example of the quality of life and productivity a person can have by adopting a healthy lifestyle. For over 20 years Hopkins has maintained a very strict diet and consistent workout regiment. As reported by Bernard Fernandez of the The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2011 as Hopkins was preparing for a bout against Jean Pascal, his only indulgence is an occasional cheesecake. "I feel good. My reflexes are not perfect, but there's no noticeable drop-off. I do wake up a little later now than I normally would. I get up around 7, stretch, get out on the road and do my running around 9. I used to get my roadwork in before the sun came up.”
Renowned trainer Mackie Shilstone worked with Hopkins in 2006 to prepare him to move up two weight classes from middle weight (160 lbs) to light heavyweight (175 lbs) to challenge then champion Antonio Tarver. Hopkins won the fight and working with Shilstone was an example how serious he was about moving up 15 lbs for his fight. He wanted to do it the right way, not by eating junk food and slowing him down against an opponent who was more comfortable at that weight.
Shilstone told ESPN.com in 2006, "When a man wants to leave a mark on society, I don't have to guess if he is going to train hard. He's taking on a bigger, younger man who is on top of the mountain. This is the ultimate challenge in sports. It makes winning the Super Bowl look like child's play."
You don’t have to be an elite athlete as Hopkins to appreciate the benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle and being efficient in everything you do at an age when people feel you should be slowing down. The Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest, most comprehensive examination of aging ever conducted concluded from their studies since the 1930’s that socializing, healthy lifestyle of exercise and nutrition, and continuous mental stimulation are some of the “secrets” of aging well.
The results haven't always been what even the investigators themselves anticipated. "I had expected that the longevity of your parents, the quality of your childhood, and your cholesterol levels would be very influential," says psychiatrist George Vaillant, MD, director of the Harvard study and senior physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "So I was very surprised that these particular variables weren't more important than they were."
According to Vaillant, is something like being tickled -- it's best achieved with another person. Whether your social connections are with a spouse, offspring, siblings, bridge partners, and/or fellow churchgoers, they're crucial to good health while growing older.
Shilstone has worked with over 3,000 athletes and currently Serena Williams rates people in three categories. Chronological age, which you can't do anything about. Your 'health' age, which relates to your internal chemistry, such as percentage of body fat, triglycerides and other measurables. And then there's 'performance' age. Shilstone is on record stating that Hopkins is as close to a perfectionist with nutrition as anyone he’s ever dealt with.
Products can assist with aging process, but they cannot replace the choice to adopt better habits. Cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, and other health issues usually trace back to nutrition and exercise. How many times have you heard a doctor tell you and/or a friend or relative to improve their eating habits and exercise more because of health concerns? So the next time you see a person like Bernard Hopkins at 49 maintain his weight for his entire adult life, he doesn’t have a secret that no one else can get their hands on to look and feel healthy. He made a choice, the same one you can make to take care of his body and be mindful of what he puts into it and how he treats it, make the necessary adjustment with age without stopping because of it.
Physical activity is essential to prevent and reduce risks of many diseases and improve physical and mental health. Lack of physical activity is attributed to anxiety, stress, and depression. The authors of the Lancet studies even suggest that the sedentary lifestyle so common in our culture is more deadly than smoking. They also believe that 6-10% of the world’s non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer) are caused by physical inactivity.
Utilize the many resources of healthy meals and exercise programs. If you do not know what steps to take consult a professional to assist with a designing a plan. The marketplace is oversaturated with products and concepts that can be overwhelming. I’ve seen people well intended, but not working efficiently. Learn what to do that fits your current health and conditioning level and make the adjustments. Many of the ingredients for longevity are in your control.
Health and Wellness Consultant/Personal Trainer