33 days to go
In Ageing Part 1 I started to discuss some of the myths around ageing. The issue with myths is that they become accepted as being true and the more they are repeated, the more society as a whole embraces the ideas.
When it comes to ageing, myths that suggest growing older comes with weakness, decline and slowing down serve to undervalue the enormous contribution that the older generations can offer society.
Myth number two on my list to bust is that older people need to slow down and shouldn’t exercise as much. This is simply untrue. As we age we should strive to be as active as we possibly can be. As we reduce our commitment to work and maybe retire then some of the time that is freed up might be used to renew our acquaintance with outdoor hobbies and activities. Time that we previously didn’t have to commit to the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week or more might now be available.
One of the most common reasons I hear from people as they age as to why they aren’t active is that exercise is bad for them. Enquiry generally reveals the follow scenario: they were invited to participate in some activity they used to do regularly years ago – 5 a side football, a charity sport or some such. They take part with an expectation they’ll perform just the same as they did all those years before and they either injure themselves or have such discomfort afterwards they believe it must be bad for them and/or they’re too old to do it.
If you wanted to drive a car that hasn’t been used or maintained for 20 years it’s unlikely the engine would start. However, with some maintenance, fuel, oil, water, tyres and general tlc you’d likely get the car going again. And even then you wouldn’t drive it like a maniac but gently encourage it along to get a feel for its performance.
The same is true of your body. If you’ve not made too many physical demands of it over a period of time then you need to work with it to rebuild and strengthen your cardiovascular system and your muscle strength. Basically, you can’t run before you can walk.
Increasing your physical activity as you age has hosts of health benefits, it helps maintain a healthy weight, strengthens muscles and improves coordination each of which help improve balance which prevents falls, helps you sleep better, provides social contact if exercising with others and helps reduce anxiety and depression. Exercise can also decrease risk of conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes or if you already have health problems it can help manage them and prevent them getting worse.
Two basic functional activities everyone can do: walk as much as you can especially instead of taking the car on short distance errands and secondly, if you’re shopping for just a few items then carry a basket rather than push a trolley. It’s all investment in a longer healthier life.
The end goal is a bonus - it's the journey that changes us