What are our pictures of what it means to age? Is there an inevitability that we will decline into a shadow of our younger self as we grow older? We are often clouded by the view of what went before. If our own grandparents and parents were not a picture of health in their later years, if they were frail and weak, had pain or medical issues then sometimes we may expect things to be similar.
Much like after heart surgery: in the past it was thought that bed rest was required, but now it is recommended to be on your feet and moving in physical rehab from almost day one. Likewise our daily life requires a commitment to that same physical movement to retain strength and vitality. It really is about our own get up and go.
Daily physical activity is a commitment to life itself – and the quality we wish to experience in this life.
In my work in older adult wellbeing, I have seen the wide gamut of physical health. I have seen 50 years olds with multiple health conditions who walk only with a stick, to sprightly 90 year olds still enjoying life to the fullest.
Is this down to chance and luck what awaits us? Some might argue that case, but most often we enjoy the health we live every day. Our daily medicine is found in our activities, how well we look after our self, and exercise is a key part of this.
What is the dose that is right for us? A good guide is to:
• be active in one way or another on a daily basis
• avoid sitting for long periods
• engage in strength exercises at least twice a week, and
• supplement this with walking everyday.
The great news is that building a strong healthy body does not require any grueling painful exercise, only a willingness to move and stretch our limbs and practice functional movements that keep us healthy and vital.
At no point need it hurt us, instead a lovely warming of the body and a gentle raise of the heart rate is enough to keep us functionally fit and ready for daily life. We can view this as building a solid foundation. If you haven’t exercised much up until now in your life then you have even more to gain. A little each day will make a big difference to how you feel, and to the quality of life you live.
It is also finding the activities you enjoy doing:
- Perhaps you enjoy going to the gym or attending an exercise class. Or to dance at a class or around your living room to some music,
- Swimming at the pool or beach, or
- A walk in the woods or around your streets.
There is no right or wrong activity, only doing what you enjoy and taking it at your own pace, but committing to it in full. Say to yourself I deserve to be well as I age and exercise is going to be one of my daily medicines.
Stephen G., Australia, Sports Therapist
To read more of what Stephen has to say about exercise click here.