Today, Silver Disobedience had the opportunity to sit down with Peter Bowes a British-born, naturalized American, living in Los Angeles, California. He is the host of the Live Long and Master Aging (LLAMA) podcast and has been a news correspondent for BBC television and radio since 1988. Peter can been seen on BBC World News and PBS stations in the US. As well as covering breaking news and world affairs, Peter’s special interest is the science of human longevity – food, fasting, exercise and long-term health. He has taken part in clinical trials to evaluate new dietary protocols and has produced documentary features exploring the many issues surrounding the science aging. Peter launched the LLAMA podcast in 2017 as a vehicle to interview some of the world’s leading researchers and thought leaders in the field of aging and longevity. An enthusiastic proponent of health span over life span, Peter’s work focusses on the lifestyle interventions that we could all adopt to maximize the number of years we enjoy optimum health. To nurture his own health, Peter enjoys swimming, regular workouts, fast-paced dog walks and a pescatarian diet.
What is your background? I was born and raised in north east England. I studied biology and worked for a while in medical research, but my first love was always going to be broadcasting. I swapped the laboratory for a studio and worked initially in UK commercial radio, having trained as a journalist in London. After joining the BBC I was able to travel the world, covering stories such as the end of apartheid in South Africa and the aftermath of the Los Angeles earthquake in 1994. I also worked as a morning news anchor on BBC Radio 1, the UK’s biggest radio station. I moved to the U.S. in 1996 where I continued to cover news for the BBC from California.
What inspires you to create? I love telling stories. Everything I create is focused on sharing information and the life experiences of people I meet around the world. My focus is on helping listeners and viewers understand what is happening in world affairs and the science of human longevity.
How has your career influenced your passions (or vice versa)? My career has helped me share my passions. I have always been interested in the human body and how it works, and through journalism I have been lucky enough to meet some of the most influential figures in aging research. Being a writer and broadcast journalist puts me in a privileged position to dig deep into the lives of other people and to learn from their experiences.
What is something that you must do every day (by choice)? Apart from cleaning my teeth, I must get outside and exercise. A hike, swim or bike ride, it doesn’t matter. So long as I can get my heart-rate up and feel the endorphin rush of physical activity, I am happy and ready for the day.
What are some things that you would tell your younger self, if you had the opportunity to offer advice retrospectively? Don’t sweat the small stuff. Take a deep breath and focus on the important things in life. Preparation is everything. Never go into a meeting, interview or public performance without being totally prepared for what is to come. Make good friends – young and old – and cherish their company. Work is not everything.
If you could be answering these questions from another location, anywhere in the world, where would that be? Watching wildlife in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Who are some role models in your life? I admire the work and achievements of Sir David Attenborough, the British broadcaster and naturalist. At 93, he is still sharing, with aplomb and infectious enthusiasm, his extensive knowledge of the natural world. The medical world is full of unsung heroes that I also consider to be role models. The hospital workers who endure long hours and challenging circumstances, caring for patients in their hour of need, earn my admiration and respect.
What are some common misconceptions about getting older that you’d like to change? The most common misconception about aging is that you think and act ‘like an old person’. You don’t. I know plenty of people aged 50+ who still have the mindset of a 20-year-old and an outlook on life that reflects their youthful-self. It is also a fallacy that older people are not as in tune with the modern world. In the workplace, their perspective and physical endurance often outweighs that of younger co-workers.
What is something you appreciate now that you hadn’t before? An empty day on the calendar. I used to try to pack every waking minute with activity, mostly work. I have come to appreciate white space, as I call it, in my schedule. Having nothing to do – or nothing that I must do – is like protein for the soul. The time will get filled with something, but at my own choosing, and in the moment.
What’s a lesson you learned within the last year that you’d like to share? I learned in the past year that dog agility competitions are heavy on rules and regulations. I have been training regularly with my border collie, Charley, and we recently took part in our first event. I made a few mistakes, learned a few lessons and will not make the same errors again. Would you believe, stashing the dog’s leash in your pocket, instead of tossing it outside the ring, is a disqualifying offense. It all goes back to preparation, preparation, preparation.
What kinds of relationships are important to your work? Relationships based on trust and respect are the most important for my work. As a reporter my job involves seeking out accurate information and reporting it to the audience. I rely on trusted contacts and colleagues to get the job done. Honesty and transparency are the bedrock of a lasting relationship. That applies to our personal lives too.
What would you like to be doing exactly five years from today? Ten years? In five years time, aged 62, I would like to be still working and producing original episodes of my podcast. The field of human longevity is moving incredibly fast, with new medical advancements and fresh thinking about the aging process. I intend to follow it closely. Of course, that is assuming that some new shiny thing has not come along to replace podcasts. If it does, I will be on board.
Ten years from now, aged 67, I will have mastered the art of dog agility training and will be crushing the competition.
What one idea would you like to share with the Silver Disobedience community? I would like to challenge the Silver Disobedience audience to focus on their health span. Think about what it means and why healthy years are important. Small changes, such as walking a few additional steps a day, or swimming extra laps, can make a huge difference to our overall health and vitality. Focus on a single goal, set a realistic timetable, and hopefully you will live long and master aging.