Seven steps to keeping fit in your seventies

MY GOD! I’M SEVENTY YEARS OLD! – Mon Dieu, j’ai soixante-dix ans!


Three years ago, after practising medicine for more than four decades, I retired to a little town in Provence**.  It’s great living in glorious countryside among the French in what the local tourist office calls, “un climat tonique”.


Visiting the doctor


The other day I visited my doctor to discuss the results of a series of routine tests, I was in good spirits, I’d peeked at them and they were as good as normal, especially for one who likes to indulge year-round in the local delights.


Seventy years young


“Eh bien”, said he, “Your liver functions are a little ‘aggressif’, your blood sugar is still normal but rising and you have gained five kilos since you came here.” Alas, he was right. “But,” he went on, “you are only seventy, you are not eighty, you are not old, do something about it, you know what to do.” Too right, I’d been preaching the same message for years and I left his ‘cabinet’ with those sweet words, “you are seventy, you are not old,” ringing in my ears. And it’s true, these days seventy is not old, it’s not the time to sit by the fire with your feet up, it’s the time to look to the future, it’s the time to develop a my-god-I’m-seventy strategy.


Seven steps to keeping fit and healthy in your seventies


Step one

Obvious, follow the doctor’s advice, lose a bit of weight, take some exercise and reduce the, how did he put it… “alimentation excessif.”


Step two

When looking in the mirror I will not dwell on the hair sprouting out of my ears and nose, the bags under my eyes and the face that looks like my father’s, I will not regard with dismay the brown spots appearing on the backs of my hands, the skin that’s thinned, the prominent veins and the universal wrinkles. I will positively ignore these trapping of antiquity. Perhaps like Dracula I should ban all mirrors and, hey, didn’t he have a sure recipe for immortality? Alas, not a practical solution. But I have to admit that there are some pretty nifty looking maidens hereabouts and we do have lots of brilliant moonlit nights


Step three

Keep reading and take action on all the news about life prolonging things, like aspirin reduces the incidence of heart attacks, cancers of the mouth oesophagus and colon, so take a small daily dose; fibre reduces the risk of colon cancer so start the day with a bowl of high fibre cereal, drink coffee, they say it helps prevent cirrhosis of the liver (does this mean that I can up the intake of Côtes du Rhône?) and eating an orange or tangerine a day diminishes the risk of lung cancer by 30%. Whether these are truly ingredients for “la vie prolongée” in the individual may need more confirmation… but meanwhile there’s no harm in taking them.



Step four

Keep the brain active. A recent study in New York showed that elderly people who stimulated their brains were 75% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Do crosswords, learn a language, develop new hobbies and above all socialize.


Step five

Keep cheerful! Another recent study has shown that the part of the brain concerned with happiness can stimulate the immune system to work harder. People who are depressed get more colds, colds lead to bronchitis and worse. Part of keeping happy is to have plenty of friends, this means more effort on your part to make new ones and keep old ones. Happiness is also helped along by being of service to others. The father of a friend of mine at the age of ninety was delivering meals-on-wheels to youngsters aged seventy; he died recently just short of his century.


Step six

Make your house as accident-proof as possible. Avoid ladders, step ladders, loose carpets, ill-fitting footwear, poor illumination, have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, make sure your locks are secure. Make sure your house is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Don’t smoke, it’s never too late to give up. Smoking not only rots your brain, your heart, your lungs and your arteries it’s the commonest cause of accidental fires.


Step seven

Live in France, France has 40,000 centenarians and the number is rising year on year.


** Since I wrote this little article I have lived a further eight years in Provence. It was originally published on the internet, sold to a French Property company and attached to their publicity. I received a magnificent fee of 20 euros (about £16)… but that was the first time I had been paid for writing.I still have the crumpled and grubby 20 euro note. Over my medical career I had a large number of articles  published in learned medical journals, but they attracted kudos only; columns in the Dubai local newspapers during the eighteen years I lived and worked in the Persian Gulf provided propaganda for my clinic.  Apart from degenerative problems in my seventies, hip replacements and back surgery I have survived and will be entering my ninth decade with confidence. I followed my advice for the seventies, it should be valid for the eighties.






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Barbara | Reply 23.03.2017 13:15

I will be sure to show my dear mother this article. I am sure she will find it insightful and will be as amused by your website as I am.

Bill Larkworthy 23.03.2017 18:57

That pleases me Barbara. I expanded the article when I achieved 80 it's in my latest book, Sin,Sex etc featured on this website Your mother will like it.Bill

Bill Larkworthy | Reply 26.01.2013 18:41

Sounds very romantic, hope it was. I'm also from Plymouth and I make superb pasties.

Ann Denis | Reply 26.01.2013 13:45

Good morning. I come from Janner Land. Plymouth. Jumped on Brittany ferries 30 years ago and stayed there. In my younger days mixée with sailors

Ann Denis | Reply 25.01.2013 20:52

I have seen first hand the tatoo you were talking about. Growing up in plymouth and surrounded by zoulou warrier dancers(sailors) plaisir de vous lire

Bill Larkworthy 26.01.2013 12:45

Dare I ask the circumstances of when you first saw it? And are you French? Best wishes. Bill

Jean Sasson | Reply 18.01.2013 04:36

Really fun to read!

Martine | Reply 12.01.2013 17:06

J'adore votre humour Bill! Merci! Belle et heureuse année 2013! En route pour les 100 ans! Il y a encore de la route à faire, aussi prenez soin de vous. Bisous

Bill Larkworthy 12.01.2013 18:09

Merci mille fois Martine. Grace aux medecins Francais peut etre je peut arriver...comme j'ai dis on a 40,000 centenaires a France, en plus a l'avenir.

Pat McDonald | Reply 12.01.2013 14:57

Some great words of wisdom, Lark! Enjoy reading your blog.

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Latest comments

09.05 | 00:44

Mike, I am Maria, widowof Bill. I have been out of touch with your mum Plse can i have news if you get this. I had fun with your Dad and pray for him.

16.08 | 12:56

Thank you, and how are you now?

16.08 | 12:00

You were a beacon in my gloomy journey with UC! I loved coming to see you!

16.08 | 11:58

Yes I was!!! I was 7 and a half when I started seeing you for post hospital Ulcerative Colitis and stayed under your care for years till late 90s! Mom says hi!

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