Defusing the Aging Process - Part 1 (Transcript)

Dr. James Dobson: Well, hello everyone. I'm James Dobson and you're listening to Family Talk, a listener-supported ministry. In fact, thank you so much for being part of that support for James Dobson Family Institute.

Roger Marsh: In 1st Corinthians, chapter six, the Apostle Paul reminds us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Now, most of us understand this passage to be reminding us of our obligation for spiritual and physical purity and our dedication to God. However, this verse also implies that it's our duty to care for our physical bodies as well. You're listening to Family Talk, the listener supported broadcast division of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute. I'm Roger Marsh. And I'm pleased to be sharing a classic interview with you today featuring our host, renowned Christian child psychologist, Dr. James Dobson and a very special guest. The focus of today's program is health and fitness issues.

About 20 years ago, Dr. Dobson was joined by health and fitness expert, Dr. Kenneth Cooper. Maybe you've heard of Dr. Cooper before. He is popularly known as the "father of aerobics," and for over 50 years, Dr. Cooper studied the correlation between diet, exercise and health. He is a leading spokesman for the preventative medicine movement, and founder of The Cooper Institute, a research and education nonprofit organization, as well as Cooper Aerobics. Dr. Cooper also serves as chairman of six health and wellness companies. He's a graduate of the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine and the Harvard University School of Public Health. During his 13 years in the U.S. Army and the Air Force, Dr. Cooper served as a flight surgeon and director of the Aerospace Medical Laboratory. He has author 19 books, including the best-seller called Aerobics, Running Without Fear, and Controlling Cholesterol. Dr. Cooper and his wife, Millie, have two children and five grandchildren.

In today's classic program, Dr. Dobson and Dr. Cooper will identify some unhealthy lifestyle habits that actually speed up the aging process. Dr. Cooper will also explain the connection between obesity and heart disease. Let's listen now to this energetic conversation, right here on Family Talk.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: Well, hopefully you maintain the power of youth as you grow older and don't lose it. For example, this book was written for the Baby Boomers, who really led the exercise movement in the late 60s, early 70s and throughout the 80s, but unfortunately as of 1996, every minute, six Baby Boomers are turning 50 years of age, and they haven't kept up the practice of preventative medicine that they practiced over the years. And that's one reason why we're the fattest we've ever been in the history of this country. And our level of fitness in our children has really gone to pot. So what I'm trying to say with this book-

Dr. James Dobson: You said 53% of Americans are overweight.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: Above 25%, as far the BMI is concerned. And that's exactly true. And that's a tragedy when we become so oriented towards reducing the fat in our diet and reducing the cholesterol in our diet. But what's happened too, is America's been so enamored with buying low-fat and no-fat foods. They're ignoring the fact that there's a lot of calories in those foods that have no-fat or low-fat. From 1971 until 1996, during that 25-year period, we cut our fat consumption way down, but we increased weight tremendously, because we increased the caloric consumption per day by 300 calories. In other words, in 1996, we're consuming 300 calories more per day than we were in 1971. It's pure and simple. If you consume more calories whether it come from protein or carbohydrates or fat, you're going to gain weight unless you can burn up those calories. So, that's why that we have to stop and regroup here as far as the Baby Boomers are concerned.

So, this book was written primarily for the Baby Boomers to try to stimulate those 76 million people who were born between 1946 and 1964, to regain what they had during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. So, that's the first step here. But the other thing we're still convinced in as I indicate in the book, that you can only slow down the aging process. In many cases, you can reverse it. And you find examples in the book of people in advanced years, like 75, 80, 85, 90 years of age, who are still enjoying life to the fullest. And in every case, you'll find that one thing is common throughout all this, is they have remained physically active over the years.

As I say in the book, too, if you want to slow down aging, there's three things must be eliminated. In this order, they are, number one, cigarette smoking, number two, inactivity, and number three obesity. Those are three things that accelerate aging. If you'll control those, you can slow down the aging process, and in many cases even reverse it.

Dr. James Dobson: In 1968, you wrote that book Aerobics, which took the country and indeed the world by storm. I'm sure you had no idea what was about to happen to you. And that started, as I understand it, a 22-year fall in heart disease or deaths from heart disease, but which has now begun to reverse itself. And people are moving away from the things that made that possible. How come?

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: That's exactly correct. Now from 1968, until 1990, during the 22-year period that you mentioned, we had a drop-off of deaths from heart attacks by 48%. Then it started flattening out in 1990, and now only down 52%-

Dr. James Dobson: Has technology done just about what it's going to do for our time?

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: You see, in the first 22 years, about two-thirds of that reduction in deaths from heart attacks, we attributed to Americans changing their lifestyle. One-third was due to technology. What did we do to change our lifestyle during that 22-year period that resulted in a tremendous decrease in deaths from heart attacks and an unprecedented increase in longevity? The child born in 1970 had life expectancy of 70 years. In 1960, it was 69 years. Each decade, we expect a one-year increase in longevity, but because that decrease in deaths from heart attacks during the 22 years, the child born in 1990 had life expectancy of almost 76 years. It was tripling what we'd anticipated during that 20-year period. And so, that's something we have to think about to the aging of our population, but what did we do? Number one, we quit smoking in great numbers, number two, we had better control of high blood pressure, number three, we changed our diets to the extent that fewer people were eating fat and cholesterol without question, number four, we learned about how to control stress, and number five, more people were exercising.

Those were the five things that we did during that 22-year period that primarily counted for that reduction in deaths from heart attacks. But what's happened from there on. That we've slowed down 48 to 52%, and most of that improvement now is because of modern technology. We have gone back to the old habits, unfortunately, but modern technology has kept up to an extent that we haven't reversed it completely, but we've gone about as far as we can go with modern technology. Look at things we're doing now we weren't doing back in the 70s. Such things as heart transplants, such things as balloon angioplasty bypass surgery. And now they have these new laser technologies where you can actually open up those included vessels. All those technologies, how much farther can we go? I don't think we can go much farther and we're going to have to stop and regroup and go back to the basics that made us so successful during those early years.

Dr. James Dobson: Are people really exercising less now than they were five, six, eight, ten years ago?

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: Given statistics from the Gallup polls, in 1968, we had 24% of our adult population exercising and less than a hundred thousand joggers. We reached a peak by 1984, we had 36 million people claim to be jogging regularly. And up to 69% of the people were involved in some type of exercise program. But from 1984 on, it started dropping off. And by 1990, we were down to about 35 to 40% of Americans who were exercising regularly, but we still had about 20, 25 million joggers. That's dropped on down since 1990, but still we have about 25 to 30 million joggers. That's an interesting statistic, but the numbers of people exercising have dropped way back down again.

So, we're trying to re-generate that with this book, is one of the hopes of this book. But along with this too, though, Jim, as you mentioned this a minute ago is a devastating condition, a very terrible condition of our children. Because first of all, the Baby Boomers didn't bring their kids along with them. They exercised, but they didn't encourage their kids to exercise. They tried to follow a diet and lose weight, but their kids didn't do the same thing. They were too engrossed with computers and with video games and things of that type.

Dr. James Dobson: And now the internet was just taking their time.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: Exactly.

Dr. James Dobson: What are the implications for that 40 or 50 years from now?

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: No question. We're going right back up to where we were before 1968, we're going to see an exponential increase in epidemic and heart disease. And we're going to see a falloff in the aging of our population. We anticipated by the year 2000, the average life expectancy of the child born in America would be 78 years. It's only 76 years. It hasn't changed much. We anticipate by the year 2030 we would have a million Americans over a hundred years of age. We have 64,000 right now, but that's not happening either. And we're beginning to see that all this obesity and inactivity and all the things that we're doing is taking its toll. So, all the benefits that we've had over the last 25 to 30 years will go for naught, unless people stop and regroup, take a self-evaluation, and follow some of the principles in this book.

For example, I can tell the listening audience that is overweight, that if you'll just change the way you eat, the way you consume your food, if you consume 25% of your calories for breakfast, 50% for lunch and 25% of the evening meal, always try to eat before 7:00 o'clock at night and eliminate snacking. The majority of you will lose weight if you're overweight. If you don't need to lose weight, then 25% of your calories for breakfast, 30% for lunch, and then 45% the evening meal distribute the calories throughout the day, if you don't need to lose weight.

But the other thing if you'll do, if you'll exercise prior to the evening meal, that will suppress your appetite, and the way most Americans abuse their diet and abuse their weight is they consume 60% of their calories after 6:00 o'clock at night, between six and 10:00 PM, evening meal, snacking. Your body has all that fuel circulating and it reaches its peak four to six hours later, and you're fast asleep. There's no way you can burn up those calories. And so, if you have your heaviest meal before 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon, you'll burn it up before you go to bed at night.

Now this is my secret to weight control, Jim, and you know in the book that at one time I, after finishing medical school internship, got married and weighed 204 pounds. I weighed 168 at the present time when I weighed in high school, but I had to do the same thing. But I found that by changing my dietary habits as I mentioned there, exercising before the evening meal, it does several things for me. Number one, it suppresses my appetite, makes me thirsty, but not hungry. That's a very important thing for controlling the caloric consumption of the evening meal.

But number two is something that's now recent scientific literature. When I go out to run my two or three miles at 6:30 at night, then I find my resting heart rates about 48 beats a minute. When I run it goes up to 170, as soon as I finish within five minutes it's back down to about 95, but it takes two hours to get back to 48, because I'm repaying the slow part of the oxygen debt. During that two-hour period, I eat my evening meal. I have stoked the furnace, my metabolism is up. And so, what I eat at the evening meal is more effectively burned up. It's a very, very important point for weight control.

Dr. James Dobson: Speaking personally, I like to get out of bed in the morning and go right straight to a treadmill. By doing that in the morning, it may not be the best time to do it, but I can get into a routine that is never interfered with by the activities of my day.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: Let me comment on that. Because over the years, we've tried to decide the best times to exercise. Four good times, early morning, during the lunch hour, particularly if you want to lose weight just to eat something light and then after you finish your exercise. Before the evening meal, physiologically the best time to exercise, but then at least two hours after the evening meal. Those are four good times, the most consistent exercise over the years has always been the early morning exerciser.

Dr. James Dobson: How much exercise is needed for health?

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: For 40 years I've been trying to answer that question. And in my old book, back in 1968, I said, you had to run, you work up to running three miles, five days a week. You had to get the aerobic training effect, all those beautiful things that occur in the body, your resting heart rate goes down. Your blood pressure goes down, you increase the blood supply to the heart. All these things we collectively call the training effect. But we thought that until 1989, that unless you exercise vigorously and get the aerobic training effect, exercise might make you feel good, but it wasn't doing anything else. But yet Dr. Steven Blair from our center took some 13,400 healthy men and women and followed them for about 8.6 years. They were all healthy. You looked at their levels of fitness measured by their treadmill time versus all causes mortality, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and deaths from heart attacks.

And he found during that 8.6 year period, those people were healthy, but totally sedentary. Had a death rate from heart disease that was quite high, as compared to the people the top 20% out. And so, we described a new category of fitness we call the health and longevity fitness. We now have three categories of fitness. We have the sedentary and there's at least 48 main Americans in this category now who are totally sedentary, but they're healthy. That's about 20 percentile. The next 40 percentile on the fitness skill is called health and longevity. And the top 40 percentile is called aerobic fitness, we still have that.

What does it take to get Health & Longevity Fitness? Walking two miles in 30 minutes, three times a week. Can't walk that fast. That's four miles per hour as you know, Jim, or you walk two miles in 35 minutes and do that four times a week or two miles in 40 minutes at three mile per hour pace and do that five times a week or walk three miles in 45 minutes, twice a week, or have two-45 minute aerobic dance classes per week. If your listening audience knows your aerobics program, you should say you had to use to it 30, 35 points a week. That translates to only 15 points a week that you need. And our study has clearly show us, it's been duplicated by other organizations now, that just avoiding inactivity, Jim, is the first step. Now who doesn't have time to go out and walk the dog for 30 minutes, three times a week?

Dr. James Dobson: And you really can see an improvement in general fitness and a lowering of the death rate by that small amount of activity?

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: And increase in longevity. It will increase your lifespan by two and a half years.

Dr. James Dobson: What does walking do for you?

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: Well, many things, but the other thing too I want to elaborate on. The 30 minutes doesn't even have to be continuous. It could be 10 minutes, three times a day, just incorporating walking up down a flight of stairs, walking to work, getting off of the bus or whatever your transportation to work. Parking your car far away from work and walking more than you used to do, that could all be incorporated. If you just have little bits here and there throughout the day, collectively, if you get 30 minutes, most days of the week, you'll get some training effect from that.

Dr. James Dobson: We're talking about the book, Regaining the Power of Youth At Any Age. You talk in here about the concept called targeting, explain what you mean by that.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: It's a unique concept. Over the years, we've had just general recommendations for people, go out and exercise and do some weight training, whatever it may be. But this concept is targeting the particular needs of the individuals. I use as a reference in the book when I went to Russia many years ago and was in Leningrad. And I went to the Institute for Physical Culture, and I noticed how they were training their Olympic rowers. And they actually put transducers throughout their body and tried to find out which muscle is being used the most during that rowing activity to prepare for the Olympic competition. And so, they found that the bicep, the triceps, the quadricep muscles are being used. And so then they developed training programs specifically designed to develop those muscles. That's targeting from a musculoskeletal standpoint.

We have broadened this to the whole field of wellness, targeting. What is your problem? Cigarette smoking. What is your problem? Drinking. What is your problem? Obesity. What is your problem? Inactivity. What is your problem? Your diet. Target. And then we talk about many things like the trilogy of stretching and strengthening and endorse type of activities of that type. Strengthening and stretching. And those are very, very important as we get older, to regain the power of youth. I know for a fact, and you'll see in the book too, we talk about changing your program as you get older. This is the targeting concept that I used to say, all you had to do was go out and do aerobics, just walk, run, cycle or swim. And now we know as you get old, if you don't bring some musculoskeletal conditioning along with it, you might be able to run three miles in 24 minutes, but can't pick up a sack grocery without pulling your back out.

And that's why the recommendation of the book now is as follows. If you're 30 years of age, you spend 80% of your exercise program, aerobically, walking, running, cycling, swimming, but then 20% you spend musculoskeletal conditioning working on the weights, calisthenics, that's at thirties. In your 40s it drops to 70 and 30s. In your 50s, 60 and 40, in my age, past 60, it should be 55% aerobic and 45% musculoskeletal conditioning. And you're going to start needing that more and more as I do. I found that too.

One thing I discovered, Jim, with this concept is that at 55 years of age, I could run three miles, four miles at about an eight minute pace, not too much difficulty, but all of a sudden, I couldn't ski more than two hours. And I love to ski as you know, without my quads burning so bad, had to stop and rest. I couldn't believe that. How can I be in such great aerobically conditioned, and I couldn't even ski more than two hours without getting such fatigue I had to stop? And the answer is the specificity, that's targeting. The specificity of training. So what did I do 13 years ago? I started doing weight training, concentrating on the quads, and on my birthday, March the fourth, 68 years of age, just a few weeks ago, I skied seven hours that day without a single problem.

Dr. James Dobson: This program goes by so fast. And especially when we have a guest like this with so much to say, and yet we have indicated that we're going to let this big audience here, or some members of it express their questions. And we just have a few minutes left. So let's do that. Somebody would like to ask a question, we'll pass the microphone to you.

Speaker 4: My name is Patrick Hill and I'm from Groton, New York. And I was wondering what kind of foods are best to eat to keep your blood pressure low?

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: Good question. In one of my books, Controlling Hypertension, I talked about ways that you can control blood pressure physiologically without having to resort to medications, which are expensive, they have side effects, their effectiveness wears out. These things, number one, just lose weight if you want to control your blood pressure. Number two is to reduce the sodium or salt in the diet. That's the food that you're going to have to cut way down. Any type of salty foods you must eliminate. Number three, eliminate or restrict beverage alcohol to no more than two ounces per day. Alcohol increases the blood pressure. Number four, again back to the food, you have deficiencies in vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and calcium, all relate to hypertension in one form or another.

Next on the list, you have to reduce the intake of saturated fats and high fat foods to control your blood pressure. And next on the list is increase the roughage in the diet, fresh fruits and vegetables. That's number six. Number seven then is use stress management techniques to control high blood pressure using biofeedback if necessary. And then finally number eight is aerobic exercise, protects you from developing high blood pressure and can be used to treat high blood pressure. So, you see at least four of those that I mentioned three or four, as I mentioned are related to food intake.

Dr. Janes Dobson: Question over here.

Speaker 5: My name's Shelly Kimble and I'm from a small dot in Idaho called Carey. And I have a question, I've been on Hormone Replacement Therapy since I was 21 years old, and I'm now 25 and I've heard but I cannot find any information that I can control this without the medicine by diet and exercise. And I was wondering if there was anything you could tell me about that?

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: I'm really happy you asked that question because in this book we've talked about that at length. In fact, there's five different block situations that women can get into to answer the question, whether you even need Hormone Replacement Therapy. All right, as I tell my postmenopausal women, the good Lord has provided you with a way to overcome the harmful effects of menopause physiologically. What are the three things that happen when you go through the menopause? Number one, your HDL or protective type of cholesterol drops. Number two, you increase the risk of Osteoporosis or Brittle Bone Disease. And number three, you have menopausal symptoms. Now, menopausal symptoms are transient. Most women get through that in six to 12 months maximum. The other two are very important things. Now women start having an increase of heart attacks after they go through the menopause and actually more women die of heart attacks annually than men, but they die later in life. That's the situation there.

So again, what we can do now with exercise and no one argues about this, if you can evolve in a good aerobic exercise program, you can actually build up and maintain a high level of HDL cholesterol, just as effective as you can by taking postmenopausal estrogen. Bone density. There's a great study, it's a book written a few years ago, entitled Strong Women Stay Young. And in this book, they were able to show that women with an average age of 61 years, who were postmenopausal at least for five years. And they found that in a 50 week program exercising only twice a week for 45 minutes and then taking eighty milligrams of calcium daily. They actually reversed the bone loss and built up new bone in the back in the hip without Hormone Replacement Therapy. Ladies, the good Lord provided you with a means of being able to accommodate and overcome the harmful effects of the menopause without taking Hormone Replacement Therapy majority of cases.

Dr. James Dobson: Over here.

Speaker 6: Hi, my name's P.J. Musselly and I'm from Moundsville, West Virginia, and it's a two-part question. First of all, you talked about slowing down the process of aging. And my question is, can we really prolong life or just enhance the quality of the life we have? And the reason I ask that is it seems to me that God appointed us, called us into the world and He'll call us out when He's ready. And so my question, something I'm personally struggling with is, I have a hard time justifying a half hour a day, an hour a day, of working out, because it seems so self-centered when the Christian life seems to be other-centered and I could be doing other things?

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: For you were bought with a price, glorify God in your body as well as your spirit. Where's that come from? That's pretty definitive there.

Dr. James Dobson: But may I read it, First Corinthians three, 16 and 17. "Do you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you. If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him, for God's temple is sacred and you are that temple." That's pretty direct, isn't it?

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: It's just as much of a sin to be overweight, inactive, as it is to drink or smoke, whatever it may be. And I'm afraid that a lot of Christians don't accept that. Now I can show you that you're shortening your life by inactivity, by obesity. Are you doing what the Lord commanded you to do? Are you squaring off the curb, leaving a long, healthy life, the fullest, and then dying suddenly? There's that hope there.

Here I am, 68 still practicing medicine, still very busy, still enjoying life. That isn't my happenstance. It's because I've adhered to these concepts that I've practiced now for the past 40 years. And Lord has blessed me immensely with my work with my family. It's just unbelievable, and Jim's in the same category, but that didn't happen by happenstance. Sure, I could have given up. And I've seen many people full-time in the ministry that have done this. And they feel that their responsibility is to minister something to the spirit and forget about the body. And you know, it's surprising to me that in one denomination in this country, the leading cause of medical complaints is, and this is pastors and their families. The leading cause of hospitalization is for psychotic problems. Number two is because of heart attacks, what makes denomination.

Dr. James Dobson: That is really unbelievable.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper: That's a fact as you know, Jim. So again, you can get so overwhelmed from one aspect of this to ignore the other. You lose the balance in your life. I don't have any harmony in my life and peace in my life, unless I have God at the top, family second and work third, then I'd add onto that physical fitness fourth, and enhances everything. Look for example, we can show with psychological testing that people who are physically fit, we can prove this, everybody's proven this. Who are physically fit. They are less depressed, they are less of a hypochondriac, have an improved self-image, a much more positive attitude towards life and fewer somatic complaints. You ask people why they've been exercising year-after-year and the vast majority give you one answer. Is because it makes me what makes me feel good. That's the way I can glorify God to the highest if I can feel good.

Dr. James Dobson: Thank you, sir. For coming to be with us. It is a pleasure to have you here and thank you all for being with us today.

Roger Marsh: I'm Roger Marsh. And you've been listening to Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. That was the first half of a brief and classic expedition into health and fitness as explained by the man known as the "father of aerobics," Dr. Kenneth Cooper. Dr. Cooper's books have been read by millions of people over the past sixty years, because his tenants of healthy living resonate with people and ring true. We are called to honor God in many ways, and one of those ways is by taking care of our bodies, by eating well and exercising regularly. But don't just take it from me. Join us again tomorrow to hear the second half of Dr. Dobson's classic conversation with Dr. Kenneth Cooper, right here on Family Talk.

Now, if you missed any part of today's program, visit us online at and select the "Broadcasts" tab. That's, and you can listen to today's program, and learn more about Dr. Kenneth Cooper. Remember you can also give us a call. We have team members available around the clock to answer questions you might have about today's interview. Our number is (877) 732-6825. And remember when you call us, we're also ready to take your prayer requests, and even pray with you right there over the phone. So, if you're in need of prayer today, don't hesitate to dial (877) 732-6825. And finally, remember you can reach out to us through the U.S Mail. Dr. Dobson loves to receive mail from his listeners, and he makes sure that each and every correspondence is read. Our ministry mailing address — are you ready? - The Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, P.O. Box 39000, Colorado Springs, Colorado. The zip code, 80949. Again, that ministry mailing address is The Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, P.O. Box 39000, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80949. We can't wait to hear from you. Well thanks again for listening today and be sure to join us again next time for another edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.

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Dr. James Dobson: Hello everyone, this is James Dobson inviting you to join us for our next edition of Family Talk. Every day we come to these microphones with someone in mind. Whether it's a busy mom looking for tips on discipline, or a husband who wants to learn more about connecting with his wife. We want to put an arm around your family in any way that we can. So, join us next time for Family Talk, won't you?
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