We are all living longer. The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2050 there will be two billion people over 60 with 434 million of those over 80 years of age. But there’s a catch: the quality of those extra years of life is shockingly poor. Many of us will find ourselves living with diseases and dependent on non-curative drugs and health carers as a result. We are not ageing well nor wisely.

Dr Norman Lazarus, 84, is an exception. He is an expert on the physiology of healthy human ageing and living proof that our later years can be lived well. Even now, in his eighties, he leads an active and medication-free lifestyle, regularly walking and cycling long distances. Dr Lazarus has now written a remarkable book, with the aim of helping others to stay well for longer.

The Lazarus Strategy is a part how-to and part manifesto on the art of healthy ageing to guide readers along the path to a more active, productive, independent future and a medication-free life. Dr Lazarus shows us that our lifestyle choices now will determine how we will age through our golden years and how fast – in the future. The three main factors crucial to keeping healthy are physical activity, diet and the mind. Norman explains how each of these affect ageing and how we need to make changes to these areas of our life from the age of 50 and beyond. Lazarus did research on active older cyclists age between 55 to 79. They ran a battery of tests including how efficiently their body was supplied with oxygen when exercising, muscle structure, physiology and mental agility and compared them with people who did not exercise. They found that everything was better because they were exercising. “An extra surprise finding was that these elderly cyclists’ immune systems had been protected from ageing effects.” He argues that physical activity is critical to ageing well.

At Challenge Age we have designed the programme to focus on physical and mental well-being for adults 50+ to support improvements to the quality of life as we age. The Sport and Exercise Module is designed to get participants to take up either cycling, walking, running or another sport of their choice. We try to emphasise that physical exercise enables adults to age well with positive lifestyle habits that can be maintained as we grow older.

The Lazarus Strategy: How to age well and wisely by Norman Lazarus Yellow Kite Books 2020