PUMPING IRONY: Let’s Go Crazy!

Do you have to be a little bit crazy to live a healthy life? Probably.

Neurotics arise! Your various psychological warts may actually make you healthier. That’s the news from University of Rochester Medical Center researchers, who found that folks displaying average to high levels of neuroticism — plus some level of conscientiousness — tend to have lower levels of interleukin 6, a reliable indicator of inflammation and chronic disease.

“Speculation is that healthy neurotics may be hyper-vigilant about their lifestyle and about seeking treatment when a problem arises,” explained the study’s author, Nicholas Turiano, a post-doctoral fellow at URMC, in a statement released by the university. “It’s their conscientiousness that guides their decisions to prevent disease or quickly get treatment when they don’t feel well.”

I think I’m a pretty conscientious guy, and I suppose I’m a bit more vigilant about my health than the average Joe, but I’m not sure I’m ready to embrace my neuroses in a way that would explain my own reasonably decent health. Isn’t it enough to just work out regularly and eat right? Do you also have to be just a little bit crazy to maintain your vitality into your golden years?

The Crazy Things We Do

Actually, maybe you do. I mean, I have to admit that it always feels a little weird to get up most mornings and spend 20 minutes or so swinging a kettlebell around, hoisting a dumbbell, and cranking out 100 pushups before breakfast. (I wouldn’t want to see that video on YouTube.) I’ve been commuting to work on my bicycle for most of my adult life, and it still feels slightly loopy (especially yesterday morning during our first snowfall of the season). And how many 61-year-olds in full possession of their faculties are still playing basketball?

So maybe Turiano and his colleagues are on to something. Maybe we all need to get a little bit crazy if we’re going to solve our nation’s health crisis. It might just be the only sane approach.

, an Experience Life deputy editor, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

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