I recently turned 75, and the saying ‘age is just a number’ has never rang more true for me than it does today. While my body presents new challenges such as arthritis and failing knees in an effort to slow me down, my brain tells me otherwise - and so do my grandkids!
At my annual wellness exam, my doctor confirms that I am indeed doing as well as I like to think I am, but warns that I will only continue to thrive as long as I stay the course with regular exercise and a healthy diet. In fact, my continued independence depends on it.
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging, engaged over 1,600 sedentary men and women between the ages of 70 and 89. Half of the participants were asked to partake in moderate intensity, physical activity, three to four times each week for over two and a half years. The results? The active participants were 28% less likely to have become disabled and, were also found to be able to recover more swiftly after suffering from a loss of mobility, such as a fall.
“…active participants were 28% less likely
to have become disabled…”
I don’t need convincing I enjoy staying active, but my version of active has evolved over the years to accommodate my lifestyle and my aging body. Once upon a time it was Jazzercise at the church next door, or the ever-popular Jane Fonda videos. While I never turned out quite as shapely as the famed star, I realize now that these activities set the stage to keep me moving well into my seventies.
Today I know I need the motivation of a fitness instructor to hold me accountable, no video will do. Aquasize or aerobics and yoga classes tailored to older adults, and specifically the new normal of my physical abilities are more my speed these days than an afternoon with Jane. Plus, the social interaction I get with my classmates feeds my soul in ways I didn’t think I needed until I started this routine. Keeping fit is a necessity to my overall health – it maintains my mind and my body.
It’s never too late to start, as noted by the participants in the study who saw remarkable changes by getting moving for the first time at 70 plus. Don’t go it alone though, talk to your doctor about how to get started and, take a friend with you on your journey to better health. Fun is the name of the game when it comes to staying motivated.
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