SGSC's first encounter with Charles Eugster was on a YouTube video of a Ted Talk he gave. Quite remarkably, he was expressing the very ideas about ageing that we hold at SGSC. Giving detailed and knowledgable data about the problems involved with, and caused by, the ever growing (in more than one sense) obesity epidemic, he bemoaned the fact that the ever increasing life-expectancy of the human population was being completely wasted by the near-certainty of ageing being allowed to be contaminated by disease and degeneration as if these are inevitable consequences of ageing. He expressed the conviction that successful ageing is something that has to be worked at, that if you age passively you will not be able to gain the benefits of living longer.
Halfway through the talk, we decided to find out about him, and from his website www.charleseugster.net we discovered that he has been - and still is - on the same campaign that SGSC is on but for a lot longer (he is in his nineties and we are only in our sixties, after all). He is a trail-blazer, in fact. His recipe for successful ageing is simple - Work, Diet and Exercise.
After a working life as a dentist and with the usual unhealthy consequences of the usual sedentary lifestyle, his interest in sport grew during his later life and in his sixties he took up rowing. He went into competition in the 60-year-old category in Masters Rowing and this was the start of an extremely successful career as a rower during which he won over 100 medals in various categories. In his eighties, he found that he was losing muscle - and realised that he was also overweight - so he embarked on a body-building regime under the training of a former Mr Universe. Thus began his career in bodybuilding and fitness competitions - at which more success followed. At 89 he found a new - and still his current - coach and between them they are exploring ways to maintain his body in terms of both fitness and strength. According to his website he and his coach "continuously experiment with different training regimes, diet and food supplements. There is little or no information on training methods, diet or even parameters for the healthy aged above 70." They are "exploring an unknown field".
To sum up, on his website he says:- "Of the recent changes that the human race has experienced, the increasing population numbers are especially dramatic and worrying coupled with the frightening great and continuous increase in obesity and the resultant diabetes pandemic. A particular amount of attention has been given to the rapid and continuing growth of longevity. Yet our knowledge of the ageing process is still very limited as what we observe is the result of a health-destroying lifestyle. Retirement creates invalids. Chronic disease is rampant in old age resulting in such enormous medical costs that should present trends continue, together with the diabetes pandemic, some countries could become bankrupt. Diabetes is already an international public health issue and inactivity is one of the biggest killers. The loss of wasted human potential and wealth is already immense.
Successful ageing requires work, diet and exercise. The huge mental and physical potential of the aged remains unexplored. Bodies can now be rebuilt at any age and a new life started. Beauty kings and queens in the 80-year-old category or a beach body at the age of 94 are not impossible. We will all, regardless of age, have to take greater responsibility for our own health in order to confront the immense challenges confronting the human race."
Charles Eugster is an inspiration for everyone to believe that successful ageing is achievable and enjoyable. It has benefits for the person ageing and for society as a whole - and if achieved is the best way of benefitting from the extra years that modern life offers.