Attending the 2019 Aquatic Academy at Aquarium of the Pacific

As someone who loves to adventure and explore I definitely have a carpe diem attitude but just because I’m “seizing the day” it doesn’t mean I don’t think about the future. I’m frugal with finances, have a retirement plan and keep myself economically educated. Recently, I was invited to join Aquarium of the Pacific for the first session of their 2019 Fall Aquatic Academy and as the topic was, Longevity: Changing the Narrative, I knew I had to attend.

An aquarium may seem to be a funny place to hold a seminar on longevity but it actually supports Aquarium of the Pacific’s key goal. The aquarium “believes that when people and communities are well connected, healthy, and productive, they have the capacity for positive change that benefits the environment.” Hearing it that way I tend to agree which is why I found myself there recently to attend a lecture by Dr. Laura Carstensen, founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity.

The academy is held after hours in the new Pacific Visions wing of the aquarium. Held for four consecutive weeks each session has a new lecturer speaking on the central theme of longevity. At only $10 a session it’s a steal, especially since admission includes a book by the night’s speaker.

Dr. Laura Carstensen is a professor of psychology at Stanford, founded the aforementioned Center for Longevity and authored the book A Long Bright Future – all of which made her the perfect speaker to kick off the academy.

Over the course of an hour she provided an overview of longevity – how it came to be so prevalent, why it’s important to study and how it can be a positive impact on our future world. I must admit I was one of the youngest attendees and I find that a bit of a shame. Just because my senior years are still a ways off it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t think about them.

And I learned so much from Dr. Carstensen! For instance, did you know that, worldwide, in the 20th century we added more years to life expectancy that in all the previous eras combined? This is due to a number of factors such as reduction of contagious diseases, vaccines, pasteurization and the systematic disposal of waste. Because of this the odds of making it to old age has rapidly increased. But while the odds of achieving old age has increased the odds of getting dementia has actually decreased by 20% per decade. It’s unknown why this is but some speculate it’s because seniors are increasingly educated. And because of this the elderly will have significant insight into how to help society. Pretty impressive, right?

I learned an enormous amount from Dr. Cartensen but perhaps my biggest takeaway is that exercise is the number one way you can increase your odds of longevity. We all know exercise is important but the fact that it’s the number one key to longevity is astounding. Thank goodness I took a 2 mile walk before the lecture!

The 2019 Fall Aquatic Academy runs through the next three weeks but, unfortunately, is already sold out. It does return in the spring and is well worth checking out. Keep an eye on the aquarium’s events page so you don’t miss out.


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