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For me, an important motivation for regular exercise is a desire for a long Healthspan—that is, I want to live long and be fully functional into my “marginal decade”, the last decade of my life.

Dr. Peter Attia, a physician who focuses on longevity, on his Drive podcast talks about a centenarian decathlon. He encourages us to ask, what things do you want to be able to do with your body when you are 80 or 90? And what do you need to do now, to be able to do those things, knowing that at least after age 40, most physical capabilities decrease noticeable each decade (strength, endurance etc.). 

Here’s a short podcast excerpt that discusses this concept:

He splits out exercise into four component outcomes you want to work toward:

“-> Four components of exercise:

  1. Stability
  2. Strength
  3. Aerobic performance
  4. Anaerobic output”

Dr. Attia also in other podcast episodes talks about studies that show correlation between these factors and longevity (e.g., VO2 max (aerobic performance). See this podcast note, where he comments on a study that compared all-cause mortality for quintiles of aerobic fitness as measured by VO2 max, and which concluded that improving VO2 max even just from low to average or above average can have a huge impact: 

Important stats

  • Going from just being low to being below average is a 50% reduction in mortality over a decade
  • If you then go from low to above average, it’s about a 60% or 70% reduction in mortality”

As I’m in my early 50s and I want to live a productive, fulfilled life with work and activities for many more decades, thinking about exercise not just as “what makes me feel good now?” but also as an investment in the value of my future decades is quite meaningful.