My coworker Sharon attended the Rolling Stones concert last week in Minneapolis and came in (a bit weary) the next day to report that the show ended at a quarter to midnight. Part of a 15 city North American tour, Mick Jagger was still going strong after an almost 3 hour performance. We had to wonder: why do they still perform? Surely they don’t need the money. And more importantly to our topic of aging well, how do they do it? At age 71, perhaps Mick Jagger can teach us a few things:
Stay in shape – before a tour, Jagger runs eight miles a day, swims, kick boxes, and works out every other day in the gym, according to a report in the Daily Express. According to Jagger “I’m always working out. I don’t really stop between tours, but then I do have to take it up to another level about three months before one begins.” Still, he knows that his body can do only so much. “You probably have to work a bit harder. You can’t really expect to be doing what you did when you were 19; that’s unrealistic. If you do your preparation right and your planning right, then it becomes enjoyable. Otherwise, it’s a slog” according to an interview he gave to the Columbus Ohio Dispatch earlier in the tour.
Pace yourself – the road has been a near-constant throughout the 53-year history of the Stones. “It’s hard work — same as it always was,” he said. “It wasn’t easy then, and it’s not easy now. You take good breaks, but it can’t be for too long. And you don’t want to work yourself to death. I think it’s about good timing.”
Find your passion and stay engaged – “Everyone has been saying, ‘How come they can enjoy themselves? They should be bored to death doing this.’ We’re still having a lot of fun.” The Stones confirm an emerging consensus that staying active leads to better physical and mental health in later years. According to Paul Mulhausen, MD, a geriatrician at the University of Iowa’s medical school, “One of the keys to successful aging is to remain engaged. Find something you’re passionate about and stay passionate about it. People who do that are happier as they grow older than people who are disengaged.”
Have a fan club — just kidding. But maybe the lesson is to be around people that appreciate your gifts and cheer you on. For Jagger, regarding being on stage “I don’t think the thrill of that ever goes away. It doesn’t really diminish as time goes on. It’s always a real, huge adrenaline rush every time you walk out there. You can’t be dismissive of that.”
Good nutrition pays off – “I believe in that adage, you are what you eat. If you eat a colossal amount of potatoes, you end up looking like one. All lumpy and knobby-kneed. I’m not a vegetarian or anything, but I prefer fish to meat and I don’t drink milk or eat a lot of starchy foods.” The rocker’s pre-show consumption now consists of steamed fish and vegetables, with some extra carbs thrown in after a performance to help maintain his weight.
Watch the drinking and bad habits – Jagger told the Daily Express he reformed himself about 15 years ago and has given up almost all alcohol. “You can make up for lost time,” concedes Mulhausen. “Research suggests that people who engage in unhealthy behaviors who haven’t crossed the line and suffered irreversible health consequences can change their future if they stop — and start to lead healthier lifestyles.”
Slowing down doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Jagger, “Either we stay at home and become pillars of the community or we go out and tour. We couldn’t really find any communities that still needed pillars. I don’t think I shall live to a very old age anyway. I’ve always had that feeling, but if you can stop your body falling apart you’ve won half the battle.” Amen.
By Sally Anderson