Muir Gray celebrates 75 years and talks the Elixir of Life
“I’m going to make a donation to the new centre because it needs a clock!” said NHS health expert and anti-ageing champion Sir Muir Gray, as he began his talk on ‘The Elixir of Life’ –holding court to a full house in the new Science Oxford Centre theatre. A clock was hastily provided, to the amusement of both Muir and the audience, and – as time waits for no man – he didn’t waste a single second over the next hour in sharing his philosophy on how to age well, and live better.
Long-term Oxford resident Muir works with both NHS England and Public Health England on finding ways to improve healthcare for people and populations. Wearing a pair of funky trainers and walking briskly from one end of the theatre to the other throughout, he reminded us that the future is not a destination, but – much like the Forth Bridge – something we imagine, design, plan and build; our bodies start degenerating in our early twenties – but the ageing process itself shouldn’t slow us down until well into our nineties. The Queen and Sir David Attenborough are great examples of people still active and vital in their nineties, although Muir agreed that ‘You also need a bit of luck!”
In a renowned series of books that includes Sod Sitting, Get Moving, Sod 70! The Guide To Living Well and Midlife: Look Younger, Live Younger, Feel Better – Muir advocates daily activity as walking, moving and thinking positively can keep us young at heart and help us drop a decade.
If we’re able to avoid disease and keep active – or manage a diagnosis and be even more active – we have every chance of leading full, healthy later lives. He is all for reducing the need for social care, and believes that people with long-term conditions should be prescribed activity as well as medication. Even the risk of dementia and its symptoms can be reduced with physical activity, keeping the person – ‘not the patient, the person” he emphasised – engaged, and preventing isolation.
“Looking at you all, I can’t tell who is fit or less so, but if we all ran up to the top of Shotover Hill and back, I’d have a pretty good idea. Some may not return!” he smiled, to a ripple of nervous laughter from the audience. However, celebrating his 75th birthday this week, we’re pretty sure Muir might well be the first one to make it back…
Join us in September for the next event in our Science on Your Doorstep series, where we shine a spotlight on fascinating people living and working in Headington. The event is free to attend, but you are invited to make a donation towards a special fund we’re setting up to support disadvantaged schools across the region. The fund will help these schools with their travel costs, to enable them to come and enjoy the new Science Oxford Centre. Details of our September speaker coming soon!