Movement – the Key to Happy and Healthy Aging

May 18, 2018

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Unsplash

 

Movement is the key to well-being. This is one of those incontestable facts that we’ve come to believe wholeheartedly. Diet recommendations may change drastically, smoking may have come a long way from being trendy to being contained to very limited spaces and frowned upon by the majority, but movement has always had a positive connotation for good health. One doesn’t need to be a star athlete in order to benefit from any type of movement.

There‘s no need for fancy classes, walking and dancing are known to have a great effect on the cardiovascular system, the joints, muscle tone and the general well-being, including the psychological state of a person. While this is obviously true for any age group, seniors, who are especially vulnerable to potential loss of mobility, muscle strength, flexibility and balance, need to pay special attention to their routine and make sure there’s enough movement of one type or other in their lives.

Recommendations

Whether you are just edging into the silver age or are already well into it, there are benefits to movement. One of the many relevant studies conducted was published in JAMA. It involved over 1,600 men and women between the ages of 70 and 89 and has conclusively resolved that the health improvements in the exercising group was as much as 28% likely to encounter disability, compared to those who were merely educated about the benefits of movement for healthier aging. Both a longer life and a better life are significantly improved. Not only basic activities can be undertaken independently, but the quality of life can get dramatically better with effort.

Whatever the age you’re at now, it’s the time to start moving if you lead a sedentary lifestyle. There are benefits down the road at any stage of life. You can start gradually and work your way up, or dive in if you’re in good enough shape.

The very general current recommendations are as follows:

  • 150 minutes a week of walking or another moderate aerobic exercise
  • 2-3 times a week of resistance training or weight training (but preferably not 2 days in a row).

Stretching daily

Inactivity is responsible for much of the lost stamina and strength with aging, it does increase with age, and keeping up a more or less active lifestyle requires serious efforts. According to statistics, approximately 1/3 of the men and ½ of the women in the United states do not engage in any physical activity whatsoever by the age of 75, which often causes both their health and psychological state to deteriorate.

Inspiring examples

And just for inspiration – we cannot overlook the amazing people who either take up a new physical activity later on in life, or continue their favorite sports well into the silver age – and attain amazing results just for the sheer joy of it. There are so many, but here are just a few.

  • Greta Pontarelli, who took up pole dancing at 61 to fight osteoporosis and strengthen her bones.
  • Lloyd Kahn, who dove into skateboarding at 65 and is still tiding at 79.
  • Yvonne Dole, 89, who refused to hang up her skates on doctors ‘advice after an accident at the age of 80, and is still enjoying the sport.
  • Bodhi Hanna Kistner, who moved to India from Germany at 60, and is now an 88-year-old Kyudo (zen archery) teacher.
  • Montserrat Mecho, an 80-year-old parachute jumper, windsurfer, downhill skier and diver.

For more stories, please visit the site of the project that aims to uplift and inspire people all over the world, The Age of Happiness.

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