One Size Does Not Fit All

I don’t know about you, but it really one sizeriles me when I hear someone on TV say that we need to keep our waist size below a particular number of inches in order to avoid heart problems. While it’s true that abdominal fat, which seems to creep on us as we age, is more dangerous than other kinds of fat, setting a specific waist size for all women doesn’t make sense.

The same goes for prescribed amounts of exercise. It’s easy to understand that moving the body is better for us than sitting for hours on end. But one source says that you need to exercise so that you are sweating and breathing too hard to be able to sing. Another source says it’s not necessary to work out that hard; that gentler exercises like tai chi or yoga are the way to go. I don’t think one exercise program works for everybody.

Pinchas Cohen, dean of the USC Davis School of Gerontology, writes that “no two of us are alike when it comes to aging successfully.” His chapter in the 2014 book, The Upside of Aging edited by Paul H. Irving, provides a look into what he calls personalized aging. He describes how breaking things down into “good” and “bad” categories can be misleading since there are many differences among individuals. Even within a family, he writes, “it is difficult to confidently recommend a lifestyle” because one size does not fit all.

A vitamin regimen that works wonders for one woman may do harm to another. What proved to be a heart-healthy diet for your neighbor might do nothing to prevent a stroke in you. So the next time some you hear an expert declare what you should or should not be doing, remember that you are a unique individual. Statistics only tell the story of an average person, not necessarily your story.

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