SLOW aging is a positive approach to the aging process

There is much to be said for taking it slow. The Slow movement has developed as a counter to the amoral culture of fast food and mass production. This culture sees food, clothing, travel or even sex as an end in itself, with no additional function (i.e. it’s just sex, it’s just a pair of shoes). Slow is about finding the connections in any experience to allow us to savor its qualities.  Different groups have used the SLOW acronym to highlight different issues.

For example, the slow food movement has used it to mean:

S = Sustainable (not having an impact)

L = Local (not someone else’s patch)

O = Organic (not mass produced)

W = Whole (not processed)

What is slow?

SLOW concepts is a practical way to foster connectedness between what is being produced and what we are eating. However, the same principles can also be applied to our own lives. It is very easy to feel that our choices have no importance. Like flying in a plane, time seems to melt away until suddenly we’re a long way from where we started. We don’t expect time to stand still, but we know time can get away on us. Slow is about taking our time (back).

We cannot expect that enjoyable and fulfilling lives will simply come from longer ones.

SLOW Aging is about disease prevention and maintaining structure, function and quality of life

Slow aging therefore has the complementary goals of disease prevention and maintaining structure, function and quality of life. These aims are distinct from anti-aging practices, which propose to intervene in the processes of aging, with the goal of extending lifespan. It is reasonable to have expectations of technology and medicine. Over the last hundred years, lives have become healthier and longer, and more advances will be made in our lifetime. Yet the notion that aging may be controlled by a single pill or diet is naive.

Aging is not even a wholly biological experience, but a complex change determined by environmental, behavioral, cultural, socioeconomic, as well as biological factors. As an analogy, it is now possible to contain the entire nutrient content of an apple in a tablet. While it may be chemically identical, it does not have the crunch of the first bite, the shine of the skin or the joy of picking it fresh from a tree. In the same way, health and aging are much more than biology or chemistry.

A deeper understanding of health, disease and aging allows us to take rational steps to better support structure and function and maintain quality.  Rather than simply being passengers in our bodies, we can engage in our lives and our environment, and start to make positive and informed choices about things they can do today with tomorrow in mind.

Last Reviewed 27/Feb/2014

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Dr Merlin Thomas

Professor Merlin Thomas is Professor of Medicine at Melbourne’s Monash University, based in the Department of Diabetes. He is both a physician and a scientist. Merlin has a broader interest in all aspects of preventive medicine and ageing. He has published over 270 articles in many of the worlds’ leading medical journals

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