Fit for life

The DO Book Club, Jan. 2024: ‘Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity’

Peter Attia, MD, promotes a proactive approach to long-term health and offers strategies for staying healthy for as long as possible.


If you’re interested in learning more about prolonging your quality of life, aka your “health span,” over the course of your life, “Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity” by Peter Attia, MD, with Bill Gifford, is a must-read book. Dr. Attia is a 2001 graduate of Stanford University School of Medicine. Medical students, physicians and other health care professionals alike can benefit from Dr. Attia’s perspectives as he embraces the prevention of chronic diseases.

The book is divided into three sections: Objectives, Strategy and Tactics for living a long, healthy life, with an emphasis on health span rather than life span, and quality of life over quantity. Furthermore, after his conclusions are made, Dr. Attia supports his positions with over 50 pages of specific and detailed contemporary references. Some of these references are not evidence-based, but they are certainly evidence-informed.

In the Objectives section of “Outlive,” Dr. Attia includes a proactive rather than reactive approach to long-term health and wellness. He focuses on Medicine 2.0 as the foundation of present medical care (fixing problems as they present) versus Medicine 3.0, which emphasizes anticipation and prevention of expected disease. The author also explores “how” and “why” some people can live to be 100 years old and proposes common threads.

Dr. Attia’s Strategy section defines the “Four Horsemen” of health decline, which include the vascular system, diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative disease. He notes that these big four diseases usually start years before they manifest symptoms in patients and, therefore, prevention should as well.

The Tactics section shares a roadmap to an increased health span: good nutrition, exercise, sleep and mental health. Dr. Attia explores sleep as curative, exercise as essential, nutrition as overabundant and, of course, no health is possible without mental health.

A few quotes from “Outlive” that struck me as poignant include:

  • “Our only goal is to live longer and live better, to outlive.” (p. 215)
  • “Prolonging aliveness, or heath span, is preferred over life span.” (p. 218)
  • “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge.” (p. 177)

Throughout “Outlive,” Dr. Attia works to help readers learn how to think about their long-term health on an individual basis. Readers will discover that aging well and longevity are far more attainable than we think, and the right roadmap can help us arrive on a different path in life, one that could make each decade better than the one before.

“Outlive” is an excellent primer on living all the days of your life. Dr. Attia’s treatise can be appreciated and implemented by all in health care.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

Check out other recent selections from
The DO Book Club on Goodreads:

The Death of Ivan Ilych
Leo Tolstoy’s best-known writings, “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina,” do not pack quite the punch found in his short novella, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich.” A powerful read, his novella remains a classic for narrative medicine.

Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points that Challenge Every Company and Career
Remember Y2K? Remember the death and destruction that was surely going to rain down upon us for want of integers occupying the thousands and hundreds column? This book was first published early in 1999, a little before the panicked apocalyptic predictions began.

The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine
If you took Western civilization in college and were assigned “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire,” you might be tempted to pass on this one, but that would be a shame because there are many interwoven parallels.

Connect with The DO Book Club on Goodreads to see past selections and reviews, and to check out what we’re reading next.

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One comment

  1. Lawrence Silverberg

    I absolutely plan to read this book. So many fabulous aspects raised in this book review about the book. I was particularly intrigued by the concept of “Evidence-informed.”
    My understanding of this concept is that it is much broader than evidence based and includes expert opinion as well as patient involvement. Absolutely the way to go.
    Lawrence Silverberg DO

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