If you are a little boy (and you knew and cared about who does cartoon voices) you would say Doc Hudson from the movie Cars. If you are a middle aged or older woman you would say those dreamy blue eyes that you could just fall into. If you are a movie buff you might say Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, or Road to Perdition, or The Color of Money, or The Sting, or dozens of other great, near great, and even awful movies. A 12 year old patient surprised me with Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. If you are a gourmand you might say Newman’s Own brand of sauces, dressings, and organics. If you are an open wheeled CART racing fan you would say the owner of one of the most successful racing teams in open wheel history, and a very fine and accomplished race car driver, even into his 70’s. If you follow the Oscars, you would answer a 3 time Oscar winner. If you know your charities, you would say the man that has given away much more than $250 million to charity. If you are one of the lucky kids to attend his many and international Hole In the Wall Camps for underprivileged kids, you might say the greatest guy on the planet. If you are a romantic like my wife you might say he is the rare Hollywood man that maintained a close and loving marriage for 50 years, to Joanne Woodward. If you are a beer drinker you might be jealous of the numbers of beers he could put away every day and still keep a thin and toned physique into his 80’s. If you are a method actor you might say the co-founder of the Actors Studio West, the home of the popular show Behind the Actors Studio. And note that he was that show’s first guest. If you are a politico you might say a very left wing political operator who was not too big to man a call center for his candidate, or go out and stump for him. And if you are one of his 5 daughters you might say a wonderful, loving, well intended, but often absent father. After all, he was pretty busy.
If you answered any of the above you would be right. He was all of those things and more. As my patient Tony said, Paul Newman was the real deal. He was committed to so many things and managed to find time for all of them, except perhaps one, but that’s another story. He was successful in so much but he never took credit for any of it. He thought that his life was a privilege and that he was just the recipient of a life long string of good luck. He was just a regular guy that knew what he wanted and was willing to do the work.
So why do I bring him up? There was one more thing he found time for in his busy schedule. Do you remember article #149 where I talk about research that showed that 25 minutes of brisk walking each day would add 3-7 years on to your life? Paul Newman did just that. He exercised every day, and perhaps for not more than those 25 minutes. It might have been walking or running or swimming, but it was something every day. It was no accident that he raced competitively well into his 70’s. It was no accident that he had such a high energy level. It was no accident that he did all that he did. And it was no accident that his exceptional health lasted 83 years. He worked at it. 150 minutes a week is all you need…and all I ask.